Pulse (Kairo) (2001)

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Released 8-Nov-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making Of
Gallery-Stills
Theatrical Trailer
Teaser Trailer-The Eye, Inner Senses, Dark Water
Theatrical Trailer-US Release
Trailer-The Eye; Inner Senses; Dark Water
Reversible Cover
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 114:00 (Case: 118)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (36:12) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Studio
Distributor
Madman
Madman Entertainment
Starring Haruhiko Kat
Kumiko Aso
Koyuki
Kurume Arisaka
Masatoshi Matsuo
Shinji Takeda
Jun Fubuki
Shun Sugata
Sho Aikawa
Kji Yakusho
Kenji Mizuhashi
Takumi Tanji
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Cocco
Takefumi Haketa
Takeshi Haketa


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, some soft drink brands.
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Would you like to meet a ghost?

Michi (Kumiko Aso) and her friends work in a rooftop nursery, caring for potted plants and running the business. When her colleague, Taguchi (Kenji Mizuhashi), stops coming to work and refuses to answer his phone, she drops around to see how he's doing, only to witness his shocking suicide. All over Tokyo, people are being lured to their death by a strange website, promising contact with ghosts. One by one, Michi's friends and relatives succumb to this strange phenomena.

Meanwhile, we meet Kawashima (Haruhiko Kat), an internet newbie who is having trouble making sense of the strange images he is seeing on his computer. Puzzled, he seeks help from programmer Harue (Koyuki), who initially believes it to be the work of a hacker. Soon, they realise a link exists between the declining population and the strange, ghostly images on the internet. Kawashima learns of The Forbidden Room, a place sealed with red tape that houses souls who spill into our world from the drastically overcrowded place they belong. Eventually Michi and Kawashima cross paths and aim to help each other survive mankind's impending holocaust.

Kairo (Pulse) poses the thought that the afterworld (or heaven, if you like) has a finite space and is only capable of a certain number of inhabitants. If the space were to fill, where would the remaining ghosts go? Initially, they occupy a room sealed with red tape inside a derelict building, but when the building is demolished the spirits find a new space to occupy: the internet.

This film was produced way back in 2001 and has been a long time coming in Region 4. I initially sat down to review this disc thinking I'd never seen the film before, but it turned out I had, some years ago. I must say that I enjoyed it a great deal more this time around, having only seen it with a stereo soundtrack last time. The sound design and score for this film are stunning and generate the majority of the tension, so a simple stereo soundtrack is quite a drawback. Thankfully, we have the full surround experience available here. Interestingly, an American remake, Pulse (2006), has already been released on DVD in Region 1, and has received mixed reviews to say the least.

Written and directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Kairo (Pulse) is essential viewing for fans of Japanese horror. I would describe it as a blend of Ju-on, Ringu and, strangely enough, The Omega Man, with a unique style and inspiring atmosphere.

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Transfer Quality

Video

Reviews of this film's transfer to DVD are similar across all Regions, citing a very dark image and average visible detail. Ours is no different.

The feature has been transferred to DVD in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement. The image is tight to the frame on all sides. I presume this would be relatively close to the film's original theatrical aspect, in fact the matte may have been opened a little from the original 1.85:1.

The picture is moderately sharp throughout and shows a mild, yet consistent wash of film grain. Haloing is a major issue, particularly on a big screen. It seems that any foreground object is outlined slightly, which is rather distracting. This effect can also be seen in the opening and closing titles. The film is also very dark, a choice on the part of the director I presume, but I felt that these scenes are handled well and suit the overall atmosphere of the film. There were no occasions where I was struggling to make sense of what was lurking in the shadows.

The film is practically devoid of any bold colouring. Having said that, there are no inconsistencies or rendering issues to speak of.

I didn't notice any MPEG compression issues at all, however the video bitrate appears to be highly variable. Some film artefacts are present, ranging from small specs here and there to a particularly large one at the bottom of the frame at 30:00.

An English subtitle stream is activated by default. The yellow font is easy to read and is paced accurately with the dialogue. The font switches to white to translate Japanese characters that appear on screen. I didn't notice any annoying spelling or grammar errors in the text.

This disc is dual layered, with a layer break placed during the feature at 36:12. The transition between layers was transparent on my system, however, it may interrupt motion on screen for some.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

There are two soundtracks accompanying this film on DVD, both of which are the film's original Japanese language. A nice Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is the default, encoded at 448Kb/s. A Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (224Kb/s) option is included.

The dialogue is distinct and easy to discern above the rest of the elements in the soundtrack. The ADR is absolutely seamless and audio sync is fine.

This film benefits from some amazing sound design, which is served best by the surround audio option. The use of the surround channels ranges from subtle atmospherics and elements of the score to a passing helicopter at 11:00. At 56:24 the rear channels come alive with a creepy voice calling for help, which is very, very effective and ups the scare-factor considerably.

The score by Takefumi Haketa mixes haunting, operatic vocals with some tense percussive passages in places. Otherwise, the score is predominately orchestral and suits the overall mood well. The closing theme Wings is by a pop group named Cocco.

The LFE channel is used to add some bottom end here and there, adding tension in the right places. A crash near the film's finale is served well by low, rumbling effects from the subwoofer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

The main menu is animated with familiar scenes from the film and is accompanied by creepy audio in Dolby Digital 5.1. All of the menu pages are 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette- Making Of (38:56)

Much of the footage here was captured on the set during filming, as the director discusses character motivation and movement between takes. There are a few interview segments as well, as Kiyoshi Kurosawa explains his approach with the camera and how he hopes his vision will be interpreted, with other clips from his previous films for reference. This featurette is presented with English subtitles and is not 16x9 enhanced.

Gallery (2:04)

A series of stills taken from the film, presented with 16x9 enhancement and accompanied by an audio clip from the score.

Trailers (3)

An assortment of promotional pieces for Kairo including a Teaser Trailer (0:56), Theatrical Trailer (1:04) and the US Theatrical Trailer (1:42). All are presented with English subtitles.

Madman Trailers (3)

Additional trailers are included for The Eye, Inner Senses and Dark Water.

Reversible Cover Slick

The reverse side of the slick omits those pesky ratings logos.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The Region 1 and 2 releases include stereo audio only, which would seriously negate the film's spooky atmosphere. These include the same Making-Of featurette as our Region 4 disc. It's been a long wait, but the local disc is a winner.

Summary

Kairo (Pulse) is an intelligent horror film that provides interesting food for thought. Is the film condemning man's dependance on technology, or praising his obsession with spirituality?

The video transfer is good, but lacks fine detail.

The audio transfer is great.

The extras offer some valuable insight into the production.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Monday, January 22, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using DVI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3806 (via Denon Link 3)
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
R3 version, soundtrack and remake - Craig Andrews
R1 audio - Craig Andrews