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Ringu (DVD)

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Genre: Music DVDs - World & Folk / Theatrical Release: 1998 / Director: Hideo Nakata / Actors: Nanako Matsushima, Miki Nakatani ... / DVD released 04 March, 2003 at DreamWorks / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, Colour, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC

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      16.02.2010 15:24
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      Spooky fun

      Ringu is a cult 1998 Japanese horror film directed by Hideo Nakata and adapted from the novel by Koji Suzuki. The film begins with an enjoyably spooky prologue of sorts as two teenage girls - Masami (Hitomi Sato) and Tomoko (Yuko Takeuchi) - lark about at home discussing an urban legend about a cursed videotape that everyone is talking about at school. The tape is said to kill anyone that watches it within seven days with the victim receiving a telephone call immediately after it ends to signal/confirm they are now to die. "A grade school boy was on holiday down in Izu with his family. He wanted to go out and play, but there was a TV show he didn't want to miss, so he recorded it on a VCR. But the channels in Izu are different from Tokyo. No channel there uses the channel he set to record, so the tape should have been blank, but when he played it back at home there was a woman on the screen. You will die in one week she said. The kid stopped the tape and then the phone rang - You saw it! said a voice. A week later he died."

      The jovial aura is punctured somewhat when Tomoko nervously reveals that, along with three of her friends, she watched this notorious videotape a week ago and then received the dreaded phone call. The girls soon discover that the curse is very real and a terrified Masami is witness to the death of Tomoko. Tomoko's aunt, reporter Asakawa Reiko (Nanako Matsushima), has already heard about the stories circulating of strange deaths amongst teenagers - they are found with their faces grotesquely frozen in fear - after interviewing some school children for a piece about urban legends. The death of her niece motivates her to investigate further and she discovers the three friends Tomoko watched the tape with all died on the same night as her and that Masami was so traumatised she ended up insane and in an institution. Asakawa works out that Tomoko and her friends stayed in a rental cabin in Izu and travels there, finding a copy of this notorious tape. She decides to view it for herself...

      On the whole, the very best horror films are rich in atmosphere and ideas more than anything else. I don't personally understand the appeal of many modern horror films which seem to be largely made by idiots and obsessed with people being tortured. Ringu is a film that understands the importance of atmosphere and a lingering climate of dread and unease. The opening shots of dark water in Ringu establish the otherworldly aura integral to the film and indicate a great unknown force that is about to intrude on the real world in the form of something completely ordinary on the surface - the humble video cassette. While it might possibly be a trifle languid for some tastes, Ringu works very nicely as a stylish ghost story/mystery and contains some very enjoyable riffs on urban myths and legends. The film has a genuine plot and story that you have to pay attention to and one that becomes very absorbing as you quickly become as eager as Asakawa to see this video for yourself and unravel the source of the mystery behind it.

      The bizarre images that appear on the tape when it is viewed with the crackly static and strange sound effects are suitably odd and unsettling - reminiscent slightly of David Cronenberg's Videodrome. We see a hooded figure, a woman brushing her hair, a circle composed of clouds on a black background, a well in a wooded area, and more weirdness besides. It's sort of like an hallucinogenic Ingmar Bergman film! The cursed videotape makes a great central (high) concept to spin this ghostly yarn around and the film takes full advantage of the possibilities it offers to create some spine-tingling moments of incoherent strangeness.

      The prologue with the giggling teenage girls larking about as they talk about the tape is like a Japanese riff on a Scream film and unsettling because something very strange and unknown gradually intrudes onto what seems an innocuous domestic setting. That the death of Tomoko occurs offscreen of course leaves it all to our imagination and makes it all the more effective. Ringu's strengths are its absence of straight ahead horror shocks and gore - instead preferring to develop at its own pace and keep the viewer both intrigued and slightly off balance. The restrained music, cinematography, and the bleak isolated locations all add to the eerie mood and ambience with empty rooms and an altogether subtle approach. Asakawa enlists the help of ex-husband Ryuji (Hiroyuki Sanada) to get to the bottom of the tape and there are some interesting scenes here when technology is used in an attempt to analyse this cursed artifact. This clash between technology and the supernatural, the sort of stuff that Nigel Kneale used to do, is always interesting and intriguing when deployed for horror purposes.

      What I like about Ringu is the way it plays for a time like a very stylish extended Japanese version of The Twilight Zone or Hammer House of Horror with a terrific central spooky idea providing the motivation for the characters and the shivers. Another nice touch is that after Asakawa watches the tape we get a frequent reminder of the date onscreen to stress that she is running out of time to find the source of the mystery and save herself. This is something that The Amityville Horror also did and it's interesting that Ringu contains several moments that remind you of western horror films like Scream and Poltergeist. These influences are given a thoroughly Japanese twist and the end result is very effective and enjoyable. Ringu's most famous moment shares Poltergeist's obsession with a particular household staple and is certainly creepy although - and this probably goes for the film as a whole - not quite as scary as the critics would have you believe. Ringu is an interesting and rewarding cult Japanese favourite that I'd have no hesitation in recommending to horror fans looking for something creepy to watch late at night.

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        29.07.2009 13:10
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        By far better than the US version.

        Ringu, the original movie based on the 1991 novel, came out 7 years before the American version and yet in those 7 years the Americans couldn't help but make a worse version of the same film, how, I'm not sure but this movie is definatly the superior of the 2.

        The film has been done many times now in various countries such as South Korea and has unlimited number of sequels and prequels to go along with it, me, I am only interested in the original story, the same one as told in Ringu and The Ring. For the sake of most people I will compare the 2 since I am sure most people have watched The Ring.

        The story of Ringu is slightly different to that of the American version, there's no horses, no small little house in the barn, the first 50 minutes of the story is identical to the American version (or should that be the first 50 minutes of the american one is identical to this), then the 2 split ways, the US version goes along the story about the horses mysteriously dying and keeping the child awake at night. Ringu takes us on a tale of a woman, Sadako's mother, who was able to predict things and see into peoples minds and a volcano that erupted 40 years ago...Sadako can kill people with her mind.

        The story I thought was better than the American version, originals usually are, it's very strange how the first 50 minutes of the film are almost identical, scene by scene and then all of a sudden the 2 turn completley different, once they had got onto the island of Sadako's birthplace the story unraveled rather quickly, compared to the American one which took a while to get going.

        For me the Japanese Sadako is much scarier than the American, the famous TV scene and the no fingernails as she's crawling across the floor is horrible and freaky, as so many people know the Japanese are all about tension and making the audience feel scared rather than actually be scared, which I personally think is the best kind, tension and suspense are better forms of horror than gore and jumpy moments in films, I never watched this alone, in the middle of the night so personally I didn't think it was AS bad as alot of people make out, I can however tel lyou that had I watched this film in the middle of the night, at home (which is a tiny village) I would have been leaving the light on all night, it's a very creepy film, Japanese music and acting makes it all so tense and makes people want to hide behind something before anything has even happend. Much in the same snese that rollercoasters are horrible, the wait is terrible, then you get on them and it's no big deal...the Japanese are great at this kind of horror.

        The actors, for me are very very unknown, not having seen many Japanese films (only 3/4 actually) and with them obviously not being in any American/British stuff it means the actors are completley unknown, although I think this is for the best, it adds another sense of mystery to the film, and to be honest the acting for me is of a higher calibre than that in the US version. The film isn't perfect in terms of shooting quality and everything seems a little less clear than hollywood films which gives this film another edge, another sense of something different which is useful every once in a while.

        Overall, this film is much better than the American version, I must say I do think the American one is more watchable on a rainy night, it obviously requires no need to read subtitles and it's a bit more actiony than the Japanese version which is very much a have to be in the mood movie, but this version is still the definitive, definatly worth a watch and next time I am at home alone, at 1am in the morning, I may just have to see HOW scary this film really is...

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        20.04.2009 15:42
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        A masterpiece of modern horror

        For me personally, this is one of the most enchanting, spine-chilling films ever made. This is the film that started the recent wave of Asian horror movies entering the commercial consciousness (And one which has become completely saturated now) - This is the film that started the remake frenzy which we have seen in the past few years.

        In typical Asian horror style, Ring is incredibly sedately paced - This allows the tension to build steadily throughout, without the use of the cheap, shock tactics which so many modern horror films use. There is little gore throughout, director Hideo Nakata relying on a all-encompassing fear of dread, achieved by not revealing all of the valid plot points right at the start of the film - The viewer has to piece things together as we go along.

        The premise of the film (Haunted videotape which when watched causes the viewer to die within a time period) sounds like the stuff of poor quality, 90's American horror - But there is so much more to this film that the admittedly thin plot. This is the sort of horror film that your mind brings back when you close your eyes at night, it makes you hear noises in the dark that arent even there.

        The ending is the real trump card here, and without giving anything away, its a real surprise that will live very long in the memory.

        This film introduced me to the world of Asian Horror, and its a genre that has very rich rewards - Ring is the forefather to the greatness that followed on.

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          04.12.2008 13:06
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          Will Scare The Hell Out Of You!

          This definitely one of my favourite horror movies, but the strange thing is that if it was not for one particular scene this would have just been any old horror movie and not anywhere near my favourites. I think everyone who has watched this film of even the American remake with Naomi Watts will know which scene I am talking about, if not then do not worry, I am not going to spoil anything. Hideo Nakata directs here in a film released on the 18th August 2000.


          CAST:

          Nanako Matsushima as Reiko Asakawa
          Miki Nakatani as Mai Takano
          Hiroyuki Sanada as Ryuji Takayama
          Yuko Takeuchi as Tomoko Oishi
          Hitomi Sato as Masami Kurahashi
          Yoichi Numata as Takashi Yamamura


          PLOT SUMMARY:

          The storyline is based around a mysterious video. The video tape is cursed and as always happens the main character Reiko who is investigating the video also views it. She has a son Takashi who unfortunately also watched the cursed tape. They are now on a race against time as the video states that they only have one week to live. That is the great thing about this horror; they are not given a solution to this problem. Reiko then teams up with her ex husband and she is now in a race to save her life and her sons. They track the origins of the tape to a strange island with a mystery around a little girl called Sadako. There are some memorable scene here that are integral to the plot, but for your own benefit I can not ruin these scenes for you.


          OPINION/MY VIEWING EXPERIENCE:

          As started earlier on in this review there was one scene for me that made this movie. I highly recommend not to watch the trailer for this movie or the American version named 'The Ring', as if you do then unfortunately as with most horror trailers these days, they show this scene. It really vexes me that trailers show the best parts of films and this should really not be allowed. Not I just check the IMDB rating for films before deciding if I want to watch it, instead of checking out the trailers. A good aspect is that the film is shot in a documentary style with lots of shaky camera scenes. There were many very freaky scenes here and I was truly scared, especially in the one scene that I unfortunately can not mention. The climax is heart stopping and I suggest that anyone looking to watch this movie should watch it on their television at home, as this is the way I did and makes for the best effect. Do not watch it with friends if possible, for the best scares.


          OVERALL/CONCLUSION

          A horror film that everyone should be looking out for. Americans usually ruin the Hollywood remakes, however the Naomi Watts version is actually not too bad. However it is a PG-13 movie so evidently will not be as terrifying, so I do recommend watching Ringu over The Ring.

          The extra features on the DVD are great and whilst flicking through I am sure everyone will come across the cursed video clip itself which is mesmerizing as well as terrifying. There are many people that will be scared to watch this, just in case it is true. After all you should not mess with what you do not understand. One curse, one cure, one week to find it.

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            03.10.2007 21:32
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            Main Cast:
            Nanako Matsushima .... Reiko Asakawa
            Miki Nakatani .... Mai Takano
            Hiroyuki Sanada .... Ryuji Takayama
            Yuko Takeuchi .... Tomoko Oishi
            Hitomi Sato .... Masami Kurahashi
            Yoichi Numata .... Takashi Yamamura
            Yutaka Matsushige .... Yoshino
            Katsumi Muramatsu .... Koichi Asakawa
            Rikiya Otaka .... Yoichi Asakawa
            Masako .... Shizuko Yamamura
            Rie Inou .... Sadako Yamamura

            Directed by Hideo Nakata, Rating 15


            *****************The Review************************

            In 2002, a movie called 'The Ring' was released, spawning prank-calls and urban legends galore.The film was a hit at the box office , and with me.

            I didn't know there was an original Japanese version until a few days a go, when my boyfriend came back from his friends house with a selection of DVD's for us to watch.

            Now, his friends a strange fella. He's the sort of person who carries nunchucks around with him to make the walk from his house to ours, but, to give him his dues, he has some top notch horror movies, and this is one of them.

            The Ring (or Ringu) is based on a 1991 novel written by a Japanese author named Koji Suzuki. It tells the story of single mother Asakawa Reiko (played by Nanako Matsushima) who works as a reporter.

            She is working on a story about an increasingly popular local urban legend about a mysterious videotape that somehow causes the sudden unnatural death of whoever watches it a week later.The legend becomes personal when she finds out that one person who died through watching it is her recently dead niece Tomoko (Takeuchi), as well as five friends with whom she spent a holiday in a secluded cabin retreat precisely seven weeks before her sudden death.

            Reiko then develops photographs taken by Tomoko on the holiday , and manages with a lot of clever investigative work, to trace not only the cabin where they stayed, but also the tape, which she then watches....

            ....Only after she does so, she recieves a chilling phone call, telling her that she will die in one week.

            All scepticism swept away, she recruits her ex-husband, a psychic, to help her, and with only seven days to do it in before she becomes the tapes next victim, time is of the essence.

            And thats as far as I'm taking you with the plot, I wouldn't want to ruin it for those of you who havent seen it.

            Several things combine to make this film one of the most chillingly wonderful films I have seen in a long time.The complete and total absence of music throughout the entire film seems to make it feel more 'real', and without music, the twists and turns and scary moments are all the more surprising and unexpected, as you don't have the 'Scary music, somethings going to happen!' warning you do with so many other movies.

            The movie is shot with simple, shaky camerawork which makes it all the more chillingly believeable. The fear this film instills comes from the long, slow build up, the waiting. It keeps you on your toes,alert and guessing.Unlike THE RING, Ringu avoids cheap scares.No chasing,no bathtub electrocutions, no gore, no physical battles and no mad suicidal horses in this version.

            While the remake was big on swish camera action, strange noises, and scary psychiatric assemssment videos, Ringu is much more simple, streamlined and uncluttered.The tape in the original is shorter than in the remake, with much less yuck in it. No fingers pierced on nails, maggots, or centipedes. Just some strange seemingly random images accompanied by a strange creaking noise which in my opinion MAKES the tape scary. It's all in the noise.

            What really makes the movie in my opinion, has to be the character behind all the deaths, Yamura Sadako.Never have I been so terrified of a small child, even more so because she's on screen for so little time. Her american counterpart Samara might have been an abused child with a terrible past seeking revenge,but Sadako is just inherently evil.

            The ending is much better in the original. Not wanting to ruin it for those of you not watching it, I can only go so far as to say the absense of hi tech camer trickery makes it so much scarier and more believeable.

            But RINGU is not without it's flaws. Not so much the movie itself, but in the subtitling. White subtitles on top of Matsushima white clad bosom? It may be a nice bosom indeed, but for five minutes I had no idea what she was saying!

            RINGU is a far superior horror/psychological thriller than the ring, for all the reasons above. The casting shines, the acting is believable, and the tension is palpable.Definately well worth the watch.

            *phone rings*

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          • Product Details

            A major box office hit in the Far East, Hideo Nakada's Ring is a subtly creepy Japanese ghost story with an urban legend theme, based on a series of popular teen-appeal novels by Susuki Koji. Far less showy than even the restrained chills of The Blair Witch Project or The Sixth Sense, Ring has nevertheless become a mainstream blockbuster and has already been followed by Ring 2 and the prequel Ring 0. A Hollywood remake is in the works. Investigating the inexplicable, near-simultaneous deaths of her young niece and three teenage friends, reporter Asakawa (Nanako Matsushima) learns of a story about a supernaturally cursed video-tape circulating among school kids. As soon as anyone has watched the tape, allegedly recorded by mistake from a dead TV channel, the telephone rings and the viewer has exactly a week to live. Those doomed are invisibly marked, but their images are distorted if photographed. Inevitably, Asakawa gets hold of the tape and watches it. The enigmatic collage of images include a coy woman combing her hair in a mirror, an old newspaper headline about a volcanic eruption, a hooded figure ranting, people crawling and a rural well. When the phone rings (a memorably exaggerated effect), Asakawa is convinced that the curse is active and calls in her scientist ex-husband Ryuji (Hiroyuki Sanada) to help. He watches a copy of the video a day after Asakawa is exposed and willingly submits himself to the curse. Even more urgency is added to their quest when their young son is unwittingly duped, apparently by the mystery woman from the tape, into watching the video too, joining the queue for a supernatural death. On the DVD: For a film made in the digital era, the letterboxed (16:9) print is in mediocre state, with a noticeable amount of scratching, though the Dolby Digital soundtrack is superb, making this a film that's as scary to listen to as it is to watch (the squeamish might find themselves covering their ears rather than their eyes in some scenes). Otherwise, there are trailers for the first two Ring films and Audition, 10 stills, filmographies for the principals, a review by Mark Kermode, blurb-like extracts from other reviews and the ominous option of playing Sadako's video after a solemn disavowal of responsibility from the distributors! --Kim Newman