The Ramen Girl (2008)

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Released 6-May-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Rating ?
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 98:07
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (72:14) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Robert Allan Ackerman
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Brittany Murphy
Toshiyuki Nishida
Tammy Blanchard
Sohee Park
Kimiko Yo
Renji Ishibashi
Case ?
RPI ? Music Carlo Siliotto


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In)
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     The Japanese dish called Ramen is a hearty and nourishing noodle soup involving a meat or fish flavoured broth and other ingredients including vegetables and meat. It is available in many Japanese restaurants around the world and in Japan itself there are many variants available dependant upon the region you are in and the restaurant itself. There are many small restaurants in Japan which focus solely on producing Ramen which is much more complicated than it might seem.

    This film from last year, The Ramen Girl, tells the story of a young American woman who moves to Japan chasing her boyfriend and then decides that she should learn how to make Ramen. Her name is Abby (Brittany Murphy) and she arrives in Tokyo with seemingly very little thought and finds that her boyfriend is not exactly overjoyed to see her. He quickly decides to move to Osaka for work and tells her that she cannot come and that he is not coming back.

    She gets a job in a Japanese law firm but quickly slumps into depression. One night as she is walking home in the rain she goes into a little corner Ramen shop near her house. The restaurant is closed for the night, however after some tears and much yelling from the shop’s proprietor (in Japanese which she doesn’t understand) she is served with a bowl of Ramen. She enjoys the noodle soup and finds the shop comforting. She returns the next day for more and then soon decides that her dream in life is to become a Ramen chef. Somehow, despite their inability to communicate effectively, she convinces the grumpy chef, Maezumi (Toshiyuki Nishida, who some may recognise as the original Pigsy from cult TV show, Monkey) to take her on as an employee. In a very ‘wax on, wax off’ plot point he starts her on cleaning up the pots and scrubbing the toilets rather than showing her anything about the soup. Maezumi (‘The Ramen Nazi’ if you will) is a much tougher master than Miyagi from The Karate Kid and continues to treat her badly. She must learn to stand up for herself if she wants to become a Ramen chef.

    The film was a straight-to-DVD release both in the US and here in Australia although does seem to have gone to theatrical release in Japan and some other countries. Brittany Murphy obviously believed in the film as she is also one of the producers. Unfortunately, she is one of the film’s weaker elements as she is just not believable as a character who suddenly decides she wants to make noodle soup in a foreign country. She comes across as quite silly, impulsive and whiny.

    Despite this there are certainly some strong elements to the film with the Japanese characters, especially Maezumi feeling very authentic indeed. This authenticity is aided by the Japanese characters actually speaking Japanese throughout. Nishida is the real star of this film and his performance is full of pathos and emotion. It is Maezumi you want to have a happy ending and you are left not really caring about Abby. I wanted to yell at her more than once, ‘Learn the language will you’, as her Japanese does not seem to improve despite months of working in the shop.

    Another element which I found really grating was the other western characters who Abby meets through her boyfriend. They seemed to be caricatures, one gay, the other a hooker. They added nothing to the story at all. More successful is a romantic subplot between Abby and a young Japanese/Korean businessman, Toshi.

    On balance, I do not feel sorry that I watched this film as I quite enjoyed it, however, I also feel like it could have been much better as the basic scenario is quite interesting and different. It is worth a look if you are interested in Japanese culture or are a foodie.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is very good.

    The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, 16x9 enhanced which is probably the original aspect ratio or close to it.

    The picture was sharp and clear throughout without being as crisp as the best transfers. Shadow detail is also good.

    The colour was bright and looks vibrant on this transfer.

    There were no noticeable artefacts.

    There is a subtitle stream in English for the hearing impaired. They were clear and easy to read. These are in addition to burnt in subtitles for the extensive Japanese dialogue.

    There is a layer change at 72:14 which caused an obvious pause.

   
    

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

Audio

    The audio quality is very good but this is not a film to show off your home theatre.

    This DVD contains three audio options an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s and an English Dolby Digital 2.0 Audio Descriptive soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was mostly easy to understand and generally clear.

    The score is by Carlo Siliotto and is suitable to the film without standing out.

    The surround speakers were really only used for music and atmosphere such as office chatter.

    The subwoofer was only used for music as you might expect with the style of film at hand.

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

Extras

     No extras

Menu

    The menu includes some minor motion and music. It is functional but without excitement.

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 version is essentially the same except it does not have the stereo or Audio Descriptive options.

Summary

    An interesting premise which makes for a worthwhile but unspectacular film.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    No extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Friday, June 19, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS708H upscaling to 1080p, using HDMI output
DisplayLG Scarlet 42LG61YD 106cm Full HD LCD. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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