Ring (1999)

AKA: Ring Virus
(Release Date: June 12, 1999)
Incredible horror movie!  Like only one other!!!1/2

One of the most effective Suspense and Horror injections ever made!
Whether you've seen Ringu or not, this is a must see!

One of the rare cases when a Remake is almost equal to the Original!

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J.C. Mašek III... 

(VIRAL) Ring Around the Critic!
J.C. Mašek III
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Japanese Novelist Suzuki K˘ji certainly created something remarkable with the creation of Ringu. Ringu, the novel, spawned two different TV Series, one Major Japanese Motion Picture by Hideo Nakata, a number of Sequels to that picture, an American Remake with no less an actress than Naomi "Rachel" Watts and a Planned Sequel to that one. One gem that we don't usually see listed is the first ever remake of Ringu. It's called Ring (AKA Ring Virus), was directed by Mauricio Dortona and Kim Dong-bin and was created in South Korea.

As a fan of the original, as well as the American Remake I wasn't sure what to expect of this film. Would this be a Low-Budget stab at the greatness of Ringu? Would this be a simple retread of the first film with little to add? Would this be a remake in-name-only that was as close to the original as Ron Jeremy is to Sainthood?

No, No and No!

Ring is a remarkably well shot thriller with all the great acting and special effects of the original. While it is unmistakably the story of Ringu with some pretty identical moments this is also more original than it ever had to be, and definitely claims the Mantle of the Ring as its own. Ring is a much more sexually-charged and suggestive thriller with surprises galore for even the most avid of Ringu aficionados. Sub-plots are added by screenwriters Dortona and Kim, characters are twisted and many amazing things transpire, but it's all within the framework that Suzuki laid down. In short, Ring is different from, but damned near equal to the original!

Lovely Shin Eun-Kyung takes up the role of our protagonist from Ringu's Matsushima Nanako. Like Asakawa, Shin's Sun-ju is a reporter and single mother (this time of a daughter) who is investigating a recent death in the Family. Along the way she discovers that her Niece isn't the only one who died at that exact same time! Through her investigations she comes to the conclusion that a cursed video tape is killing all those who view it within exactly seven days of their first viewing. The race to beat the clock begins then and leads Sun-Ju, her friend Yeol Choi (Jeong Jin-young) and a small team of helpers through the convoluted, mysterious and frightening past of Eun-suh who might just be the key to the Curse.

Okay, so it sounds a lot like the other versions, but the Mystery they go through couldn't be more different from what you expect, and the infection spreads in remarkable new methods. The content of the tape differs greatly from that of the other versions of this story, most frustrating of all in the fact that the solution for curing the Ring Virus is right there on the tape... until some jackass taped over the ending! This adds a factor of unfairness to the plight of our heroes, and adds to the viewing pleasure of the audience, who just might know better.

As big of a complainer as I am about Gregory Benford Moments, I'd say all the changes here work toward a suspenseful whole, and ultimately are to the benefit of a really good film. Again, the actors are fantastic, and the story and dialogue makes good sense. I would hold "Eun-suh" actress Bae Du-na up against the admittedly excellent Daveigh "Samara" Chase and Rie "Sadako" Inou any old day! Further, this film is much more sexually charged than the other two and is seems to be motivated by a much, much different angle. Many of the same things transpire, but for vastly different reasons. Ring is also darker than the other two versions. There is a much darker denouement and a much creepier ending (which I shall ruin not)!

This isn't an absolutely perfect film, although it does work really well. Luckily there was much more suggested than spelled out in this film, but on occasion there was a hint of something or other that might have done well with a little more exposition rather than supposition. There's also the feel that this film might be best suited for fans of The Ring and its predecessors. Being one of those fans, I'm not sure whether I'd have gotten everything on the first viewing without knowing the basic framework going in. There is a fair amount of this film that is more Dortona and Kim than Suzuki, and purists (usually me) would take issue with this. I say they've made a good and interesting take on a good and interesting plot. Good try, Good success!

Four and One Half Stars for Ring! While not a scene for scene remake, this is an excellent take on an excellent concept! There's a great balance of Drama, Horror, Suspense and Mystery here that will keep even fans of the series guessing. It's almost as good as Ringu, marginally better than The Ring and a damn site better than FeardotCom! See it... if you can find it! I had to buy my copy from Ebay... Look for it and take my word for it! Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go ahead and switch everything I have on Video to DVD and then smash and burn all my Tapes. You know... just to be on the safe side. You can't be too careful with spectral baddies coming through the TV, right Carol Anne?

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Ring (1999) reviewed by J.C. Mašek III who is alone responsible for his views and for the his feeling saucy when watching Asian Mysteries.
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