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Ringu (1998)

DVD Cover (DreamWorks)
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7.1
 / 10
23 votes
Movie Connections:
The Ring
> Ringu (1998)
> The Ring Virus (1999)
> The Ring (2002)
> The Ring Two (2005)
Genres:
Horror, Psychological Thriller, Supernatural Horror
Director:
Hideo Nakata Hideo Nakata
Starring:
Nanako Matsushima Nanako Matsushima
Miki Nakatani Miki Nakatani
Yűko Takeuchi Yűko Takeuchi
Hitomi Satô Hitomi Satô
Yôichi Numata Yôichi Numata
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Review by Chad
Added: October 18, 2004
The movie starts up with Tomoko Oishi (Yuko Takeuchi) having a conversation with one of her friends about a videotape that she watched with some friends. This tape had a large number of bizarre, seemingly random images on it, and when the video finished playing, they received a phone call. The rumor going around is that after someone views this tape, they have seven days left to live; tonight marks night number seven for Tomoko. After finishing up the story, the phone begins to ring... shortly afterwards, both girls learn that there is more to the story than a simple urban legend. At the funeral, family member Reiko Asakawa (Nanako Matsushima) and her son Yoichi Asakawa (Katsumi Muramatsu) overhear some of Tomoko's friends talking about the videotape, and how everyone in Tomoko's circle of friends that had watched it ended up dying on the same night. This story piques Reiko's interest, so she decides to do a bit of investigating in order to find out what's going on. She finds out that Tomoko and her crew were staying at a cabin in Izu when they viewed the tape, so that's where Reiko goes to begin her investigating. While checking in, she notices a lone unmarked tape sitting on a tape rack, and asks the owner if she can watch it in her cabin. Of course, he agrees, so it's off to the cabin to do a bit of movie watching. After watching the tape, the phone rings, and Reiko realizes that the rumors are true; she now has seven days to figure out a way out of this mess. She asks Ryuji Takayama (Hiroyuki Sanada), her mathematician ex-husband, for some help in investigating all this. He agrees and watches the tape, and his week has started up as well. The duo set out to uncover the origins of the tape, and find some pretty shocking results.

If you've seen the American remake, you'll know exactly how this movie turns out in the end and most of the twists that pop up throughout. The remake was almost a carbon-copy of the original in terms of overall storyline, with the exception of one key element relating to the tapes origins which I won't spoil here. That's not to say that the remake didn't receive a heavy dosage of Americanizing; no sir, quite the opposite. I'm a fan of the remake as well, so after viewing this and seeing the changes that were made, I found myself questioning the logic of whomever was in charge of rewriting the story. The one key element that I mentioned above is the prime example of this. In the American version, we see the back story on Samara/Sadako (American/Japanese girl in the tape), which I had no problems with before viewing this. However, the back story is completely different here, and after seeing this, I'm honestly puzzled as to why they decided to change it. It's not a huge part of the storyline, but the original origin certainly added more depth to the storyline. There's a few other minor changes, but nothing really worth mentioning, so I'll wrap this part up here.

With the comparisons out of the way, it's down to the storyline itself. If you're one of the ten living souls who hasn't seen either of the versions of this movie, you really owe it to yourself to check one of them out (preferably this version first). The storyline found here is great, and does a fantastic job in the pacing department. It keeps a steady course throughout, never slowing down, but never relying on the cheap "jump" scares that Hollywood seems to believe should be in every horror film. Instead, we get a film that simply tells a great storyline, and pulls the scares through a combination of said storyline, pacing it out, great acting, and a fantastic score to even everything out. It's a simple way of telling a horror story, but it's seeming to be a lost art now-a-days.

The acting is one of the things that really makes this movie work, as we get top-notch performances from everyone involved. Nanako Matsushima (Reiko) is the star of the show, and rightfully so. She does a thoroughly convincing job as the worried mother / worried-for-her-life lady, and never once reminds us that this is a movie we're watching. Her actions and presence are so fluid and natural, and her chemistry with Hiroyuki Sanada (Ryuji) is perfect; strip away all of the supernatural things, and I'd be convinced that they were a true couple. Hiroyuki is another great actor, turning a slightly unusual role (you'll know what I mean when you see this) into something that just seems so natural. He manages to go between two polar-opposite emotions, those being calm and calculated, and extreme panic. This transition, along with the rest of his performance, is so seamless that it's scary. I normally have a problem with child actors being in horror films, but Katsumi Muramatsu (Yoichi) actually didn't bother me in the least. He wasn't spectacular or anything, but he didn't irk me with his mere presence either. Rie Inou (Sadako Yamamura, the kid on the tape) also does a great job here. Though her screen-time is very limited and her speech non-existent, she does a superb job at making the character just as effective and menacing as any of the hundreds of other movie villains. This performance, coming from what I presume to be a preteen at the time of filming, is quite remarkable and she receives much acclaim from me.

Overall, this is worth the viewing no matter how you look at it. If you've seen the American remake, there's a good number of minor details that weren't incorporated into that version, and a pretty radical change to the tapes origins. That alone makes it worth watching. If you've not seen either version, then this would be the one to start with if you're interested in finding out where the storyline goes; though the overall gist of the storylines are similar, a number of details were left out of the remake which add some great back story to the happenings. Finally, if you did see the American remake and found it to be a bit of a disappointment, you may want to check this out. While the general storyline is the same, there's a completely different style to this film, which would definitely appeal to even the haters of the remake. A worthy viewing all around, 10/10.
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keeb #1: keeb - added 10/21/2004, 04:47 PM
if you liked The Ring and thought that it was a scary, messed up movie, then you'll like the Japanese version of the film. Overall, Ringu is a bit better than its American counterpart. As mentioned in the review above, Ringu is more detailed than The Ring. The plot is easier to follow and the acting is much better than the remake. I enjoyed watching this film after seeing The Ring, and found it to be much better than I thought it would. It is a creepy little Japanese film with a much more dramatic and dark style that is better suited to the film than the scary-movie feel that The Ring projects. If you liked the remake, then check out this decent original. if you haven't seen either, then i suggest skipping The Ring and hunting down the original instead. 7/10.
Big D #2: Big D - added 04/06/2005, 10:26 PM
Never knew that. I would like to see that version someday.
. #3: . - added 09/13/2005, 09:06 PM
Fucking scary. I LOVE the book for this movie. It seriously kicks more ass. You also find out what they're looking at when they die to give them that horrified look.
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