Ring: The Spiral (Rasen) (1998)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 23-Nov-2005

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
TV Spots
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Scrapped Princess-Vol 1, Seven Samurai
Trailer-Howl's Moving Castle
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 93:26
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jôji Iida
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Koichi Sato
Miki Nakatani
Hinako Saeki
Nanako Matsushima
Hiroyuki Sanada
Yutaka Matsushige
Shingo Tsurumi
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Japanese dts 5.1 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
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 No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

   Rasen, aka The Spiral, was the original Japanese sequel to Ringu, aka The Ring, taking place only a day after the events of the first film. Suicidal pathologist Mitsuo Andou never got over the death of his child, still clinging to the last trace of his drowned son but unable to bring his life to an end. When he is called in to examine the body of arch-rival Ryuji Takayama (the protagonist's ex-husband in the first film), he finds a cryptic note in Takayama's stomach written in a code shared between them many years ago. A day later, the bodies of Takayama's wife and son are found in a car accident, along with a video tape - a very special video tape. With the help of Takayama's young girlfriend, Andou searches for the meaning behind the tape, and goes down a terrible path to find the true cause behind the deaths of everyone who encounters the supposed Sadako curse.

There seems for all the world to be a curse on the Ring sequels. Despite both the original Ringu and the American remake The Ring being successful and superb horror films, the sequels continue to flounder and disappoint. The American sequel is an easy target - The Ring Two makes so little sense that it's hilarious to watch at times, while the final Japanese sequel Ring 0: Birthday is an astonishingly boring piece of garbage mostly spent with Sadako's acting troupe horsing around what appears to be a school play. Likewise Ringu 2 was an incoherent mess, but it at least had the good sense to bombard the viewer with a lovely epileptic fits and flashbacks and nightmarish imagery to the point in which it has its own cult following.

Released alongside the original Ringu, The Spiral was a bomb while Ringu went on to be one of the biggest film successes ever in Japan. Completely ignored, the more commonly recognised sequel was later released featuring the director/cast of the original, and The Spiral was forgot. This is, incidentally, quite fortunate, because The Spiral is the worst of the bunch - it feels like a student film, shot on handicam with horrible acting, a generally hideous soundtrack, nonsensical flashbacks, poor editing, and a storyline so retarded that it actually tarnishes the original.

The Spiral goes beyond itself as boring, bland, amateur junk to actually commence assault on the plot of the original. Reducing the fascinating techno-fear-cum-technologically-spread-STD subtext to a VHS-spread DNA disease like the chicken pox (what?!) is completely preposterous, but then the film takes off in an all new insane direction that seems to suggest the entire film is an anti-sex-without-love tract, then an anti-cloning tract, then an anti-evolution tract, with each plot twist dragging itself further and further into absurdity. In the end, it turns out that (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Takayama actually manufactured the entire situation from the first film so that his rival would accidentally impregnate his young girlfriend with a virus that was actually the real reason people died from watching the tape so that Sadako could be reborn from her womb so that he could be reborn through Sadako's womb and also his rival's son could be reborn through Sadako's womb - the magic womb!! - so they could all spread a virus that would make people give birth to psychic monsters that would end mankind through evolution. I am not joking. Please, please, please do not see The Spiral. It is not a "So bad, it's good!" film - you've had much more fun reading my review than you would ever have watching this trash.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

   The video is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

   The transfer quality is extremely good, featuring a very sharp and detailed picture, with purposely bland colours across the entire film in attempt to give it a similar atmosphere to the rest of the series. Although there are scenes in which light levels are problems (the darkness is occasionally too dark, such as at 23.30) the transfer is consistently great.

There are no problems with interlacing and a surprising lack of grain, even in the darker scenes. Film artefacts are present, but absolutely minimal.

   The film features English subtitles which look great, using the SBS-standard yellow-text-black-border that makes for excellent watchability and should, in my opinion, be standard for all DVDs. Unfortunately on this DVD, the subtitles are not always accurate translations, often include spelling mistakes, and are even absent from scenes on occasion. (Note that this doesn't make the film any less coherent.)

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

Audio

   This DVD contains two audio options: Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) and Japanese dts 5.1 (1536Kb/s).

   The Japanese dts track is the much preferred audio option, utilizing the rear channels many times to establish its atmosphere and delivering the occasional jump scare from behind. The subwoofer kicks into gear occasionally to deliver a jolt (sometimes the only thing that can keep you awake) and it's overall a much better soundscape than the film actually deserves. The 5.1 track is not bad, but lacks the full atmosphere, with a much more subdued surround feeling.

   The soundtrack itself relies heavily on dreary, unpleasant music in attempt to establish a Kairoesque tone, but fails due to the lack of emotional range and general lack of immersion. The sound effects and dialogue are all competently mixed, and the overall audio is much better than the film deserves, despite carrying on the film's lack of effectiveness.

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

Extras

Animated Menus with Audio

   Easy to navigate menus with a piece of music unrelated to the film (is that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake I'm hearing there?) that none-the-less establishes the supposed tone of the piece.

Original Trailers - TV Spots (0:48), Trailer (1:08)

   TV Spots from Japanese TV for both Ringu and Rasen together, these are typically inept Japanese advertisements that give away basically nothing about the product while being hopelessly mismatched with J-pop music. Presented in 4:3. The trailer is a dragged-out version of the TV Spots, featuring a series of taglines that also make little sense and ending with the same baffling J-pop. At this point I'm accustomed to the bizarre advertising that the Japanese use, but that still doesn't make it any less amusing to watch. Presented in 16x9 enhanced 1:85:1.

Other Trailers - Anti-Piracy PSA (0:30), Scrapped Princess: Volume 1 (1:44), Seven Samurai (4:05), Howl's Moving Castle (1:39)

   Hoo boy, we run the full gamut here. That annoying Anti-Piracy PSA starts the show, but at least it isn't forced when you put the DVD in initially, and can be skipped. Scrapped Princess is a prime example of the aforementioned useless Japanese advertising, which is basically a music video explaining nothing of the plot or what the heck is going on. Seven Samurai is, on the other hand, a classic trailer for a classic film. Howl's Moving Castle is a decent trailer for an awful film. The latter is presented in lovely 16x9 enhanced 1:85:1, everything else is 4:3.

R4 vs R1

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

   Although there doesn't appear to be an R1 release of The Spiral, both fans will be disappointed to hear that our release misses out on several special features included on the R2 edition, including a thirty-five minute interview with director Joji Iida, in which he discusses his career and works including Sprial and Another Heaven. Also missing are text biographies and filmographies for Joji Iida, Hinako Saeki, Hiroyuki Sanada, Koichi Sato, Miki Nakatani and Yutaka Matsuhige. However, our transfer appears to be far superior and we get both 5.1 and dts over a single Dolby Digital 2.0 track, so it is up to the customer to choose whether the extra effort acquiring R2 is worth it.

Summary

   Rasen (The Spiral) is a terrible film and unworthy of being associated with the Ring franchise.

   The video transfer is very good and atmospheric, unlike the movie, and the two audio tracks are also very good.

   There are very few extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ryan Aston (Bioshock)
Friday, May 11, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDLG LH-D6230, using Component output
DisplayBenq PE7700. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationLG
Speakers B&W LCR 600 S3 (Front & Centre); B&W DM 600 (Rears); B&W ASW500 (Sub)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
I agree, Ryan - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)
I disagree - REPLY POSTED
3 Books actually -
Spiral doesn't seem to be in the Same Genre -