Monday, January 13, 2003

Review: Ringu vs. The Ring

Much to my dismay, I was underwhelmed by the original Japanese The Ring. Despite the fact that every critic and his sister adored it, I almost fell asleep when Nikki and I gave it a go. I understand that it was developed precisely as a low-budget movie, which excuses most of its technical failings, but nothing could save it from the dull plodding sequential narrative it was encumbered with - not even the promise of the last five minutes of the film.

Don't get me wrong - I'd usually be the first to champion Japanese film. But strip Ringu of the hype and it's a boring movie. And liking it only because other people liked it is the most pathetic reason in the world (which a lot of people, it seems, feels compelled to do). Believe me, if the point is to find wonderful Japanese films of whatever genre, there are plenty of other ouvres to see (look to the past first and discover the wealth that country's filmmakers have to offer; everything from Tampopo, In the Realm of the Senses & Brother to Seven Samurai, Kagemusha & Rashomon - my point is, if you just have to like Japanese film, there are other choices.)

Then we got to see the US version of The Ring with our friends, courtesy of Cams. This version, which ran around October last year in the States, surprised me because I was prepared to pan it to death. I usually have to contend with my anti-US-made film bias. However, I found myself not only awake, but engaged by the film. In a nutshell, without giving spoilers, this was a superior film in many aspects (where it fails is characterization touches - for example, the Japanese opening sequence of the two schoolgirls is a better study in the ebb and flow of emotion between two friends).

Final Ratings

The Ring (Japan) - *** (of 10)
The Ring (US) - ***** (of 10)

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