Ring (Ringu) (1998)
Menu Animation & Audio
Theatrical Trailer-Ring and Ring 2 trailers in Japanese and English versions
Trailer-Amores Perros; Perfect Blue; Spriggan; Ghost In The Shell
Trailer-Pi; The Circle
|Year Of Production||1998|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Hideo Nakata|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Auto Pan & Scan Encoded||Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||Unknown||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, Yep-Ritz crackers feature in Japan|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Nothing to do with a band of precious metal carried by hairy-footed haflings, Ring is a supernatural horror-thriller from Japan, in a similar vein to The Blair Witch Project. The Ring, in this movie, refers to the telephone call received by the helpless victim after viewing a mysterious videotape, to let them know they have just one week left to live.
The film features TV journalist Reiko Asakawa (Matsushima Nanako), who investigates the mysterious deaths of 4 schoolchildren who spent a weekend away and were subsequently found dead one week later, their faces contorted into a mask of indescribable horror. Visiting the holiday cottage of the hapless teenagers, her attention is drawn to an unmarked video. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Putting commonsense aside, Asakawa finds and watches the video which depicts a scramble of characters, a Dantesque vision of naked figures sprawling aimlessly in limbo, a mysterious dark-haired girl combing her hair in a mirror and an ominous hooded figure pointing towards an eerie creaking well. You guessed it - moments later the phone rings and the race is on to lift the curse before a week expires. Asakawa enlists the help of ex-husband Ryuji (Sanada Hiroyuki) who also lacks the sense not to watch the video and their urgency is compounded when they find their son Yoichi, under supernatural urging, also found watching the cursed tape.
The quest to find the source and antidote to the curse takes Asakawa and her ex to the volcanic island of Oshima where they uncover a story of a mysterious seer who predicted a volcanic eruption several decades previously and whose daughter Sadako disappeared in mysterious circumstances .....
The film could aptly be described as low budget - there is no CGI nor hundreds of extras to be found in this production. It does, however, provide an interesting insight into contemporary Japanese life and culture combined with an intriguing plot and genuinely spooky and at times downright scary ghost story. The lack of wet T-shirts and helicopter gunships does however convey an authentic and credible feel to the tale - beware the unmarked video!
The low budget film is also complemented by a low-budget DVD production. The soft focus and slightly jerky transfer suggests a transfer from an NTSC video in turn was derived from a less-than-perfect 16mm master.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer has a softness typical of an NTSC transfer although this doesn't detract from the atmosphere of the movie. Shadow detail is mediocre with quite frequent black-outs in some of the low-level lit scenes. Low level noise is thankfully minimal.
The colours were generally drab, in keeping with the morbid tone of the film and cloudy, moist weather of much of the production. There was no chroma noise or bleeding of note.
A few MPEG artefacts were evident such as moire on Asakawa's face at 18:48 and pixelization on one of the early victim's nose at 3:33. Aliasing was just about non-existent. There were film artefacts throughout the film with a mixture of white and black flecks and the occasional scratch - these were mostly light drizzle although we did get a heavier shower at the start of Chapter 11. There were reel change marks throughout the film with examples at 64:51 and 80:47.
Subtitles were burned into the movie - you get them like it or not - and were reasonably informative although whether they bore any relationship to the Japanese soundtrack is impossible for me to say. Strange that Ryuji's blackboard and exercise book notes (he plays a University lecturer) were written in English!
The disc is a dual layered DVD-9 but I could not pick the layer transition point.
The soundtrack, although also obviously 'low-budget', is surprisingly effective. The background low-level noise indicates that the audio was derived from an analogue source. There was the occasional 'pop' audible eg 52:03.
There was just the one audio track, in Japanese, recorded in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround. Note that the on-screen display mistakenly labels this as English whereas the back-cover blurb has this correctly listed as Japanese.
The dialogue was generally very clear and directed as usual to to centre channel. The Japanese girls had characteristically clear diction whilst the Japanese men offered up typically short gruff retorts and commands.
Within the cross-lingual limitations, speech synch was pretty good and audio synch generally seemed OK.
The music was credited to Kawai Kenji and together with the sound effects really made the movie, with suitably out-worldish music and supernatural echoes reminiscent of creaky door hinges and Humpback whalesong.
The surround channels were also used to great effect in enhancing the chilling supernatural appearances and events and in enhancing the realism of the frequent rain showers which could almost be felt running down the erect hairs on the back of my neck!
The subwoofer wasn't utilised at all and wasn't really missed.
|Surround Channel Use|
The extras were sparse.
Simple 4 choice animated menu with suitably unsettling background white noise and creaking well handle.
Yes, the dreaded video. Watch it if you dare - and don't answer the phone if you do!
Theatrical trailers for Ring and the sequel Ring 2, in Japanese and English (subtitled of course) - and trailers for other Madman productions.
There doesn't seem to be an R1 release of this title yet. Comparison with R2 releases reveal the same basic video and audio transfer with a few more extras.
The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;
The Region 2 version of this disc misses out on;
Although the film material is the same, the extras and same PAL transfer would seem to make the R2 slightly preferable.
Ring has already achieved cult status as a superior ghost/horror feature and the limited features and quality of this low budget release don't detract from the craftmanship of the film. A hyped-up Dreamworks release, based on the book Ringen by Koji Suzuki, is already rumoured to be in preparation and no doubt will eventually see a special release with a superior video transfer and extras. In the meantime don't be put off by the mediocre video and Dolby Prologic soundtrack - Ring is well worth a rental or adding to your creepy collection.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-900E, using RGB output|
|Display||Pioneer SD-T50W1 (127cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Denon ACV-A1SE. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Theta Digital Intrepid|
|Speakers||ML Aeon front. B&W LRC6 Centre. ML Script rear. REL Strata III SW.|