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Ultra HD : Highly Recommended
Ranking:
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Release Date: September 19th, 2023 Movie Release Year: 1998

Ringu - Arrow Video 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Overview -

4K UHD Review By Matthew Hartman

One of the most ominous and frightening films of the 90s, Ringu (or just Ring to be accurate) haunts 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray from Arrow video. The film that kick-started the J-Horror craze is just as haunting and effective as it was almost thirty years ago. And thanks to Arrow Video’s excellent restoration, the film looks and sounds incredible with a slew of fantastic bonus features to obsess over. Highly Recommended

OVERALL:
Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Video Resolution/Codec:
2160p HEVC/H.265 - Dolby Vision HDR/HDR10
Length:
96
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.85:1
Audio Formats:
Japanese: DTS-HD MA 5.1 and LPCM 2.0
Subtitles/Captions:
English
Release Date:
September 19th, 2023

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

All it takes is one film to spawn a wave of remakes and imitations. It’s happened time and again, and that trend isn’t likely ever to stop. One of the most exciting waves of the late 90s and early 2000s was the rise of J-Horror. If that term is a mystery to you youngsters J-Horror was the deluge of Japanese horror films like Dark Water and Ju-On that became big international hits spawning a slew of caucasioned remakes (a friend’s choice term I’m borrowing) for U.S. audiences to digest in their own language without subtitles. Arguably, the film that started the wave was Hideo Nakata’s Ringu (or just “Ring” in proper translation but doesn’t sound as cool). 

After the sudden shocking death of her niece, ace journalist Nanako Matsushima (Reiko Asakawa) has become obsessed with an urban legend spread by the teenage population. As they tell her, those who view a mysterious tape with bizarre imagery receive a phone call cursing them they’ll die in seven days. Nanako’s niece and a number of her friends all saw the tape together, now they’re all dead at the exact same time with the same mysterious unexplainable cause of death. When Nanako uncovers the tape and the curse spreads to her she becomes an unwitting participant in her investigation. But when her son Y?ichi watches the tape, Nanako must turn to her psychic ex-husband Ry?ji (Hiroyuki Sanada) to solve the mystery of a young girl's death and break the curse forever. 

Japanese Horror has always enjoyed a special spectral flavor. Ghosts and cursed souls heavily haunt the culture. Films like Onibaba and Kwadan deliver folklore terrors from beyond the grave. That isn’t to say that Japanese filmmakers couldn’t deliver intense terror films, Evil Dead Trap is certainly a testament to that, but I’d argue the country’s best and most chilling efforts feature the beings you can’t see but are intent on having you join them in the great beyond. Then we come to Ringu with director Hideo Nakata taking Koji Suzuki's old urban legend folklore-style horror elements and blending them with modern cultural and technological sensibilities. It’s not just a blend of styles and approaches to horror but a culture clash within itself. And the results are fantastic.

A tale of curses and ghosts and urban legend, the film’s viscerally grim tone and measured approach to horror was an international scream at the box office. Enough that it caught the attention of U.S. producers to create their own version with 2002’s The Ring. I’m honestly not going to waste time comparing the two. They’re very similar with numerous plot beats falling in exactly the same way, but they are respectively different enough to stand apart and be appreciated as singular experiences. I truly don’t hold one over the other. If I want to watch this story, it all comes down to my mood at the time versus which I think is “the best” of the two. They’re both excellent films. 




Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD  Blu-ray
Arrow Video curses our 4K collections with a single-disc 4K UHD Blu-ray release of Ringu. Pressed on a BD-100 disc, the disc is housed in Arrow’s standard Black case with reversible insert artwork and slipcover. Included with the disc is a double-sided poster showcasing the two insert artwork options as well as a 23-page booklet with photos, essays, and restoration information.

Video Review

Ranking:

I had missed out on Arrow’s initial 2019 Blu-ray of Ringu, I kept putting off getting it for the collection and by the time I was about to pull the trigger, they announced the 4K UHD Blu-ray. (I don’t like the sequels so I didn’t want to buy the box set) To that end, I don’t have that Blu-ray disc as a comparison for this release but since Arrow did the restoration work themselves, I imagine they used the same source elements. With that mumbo jumbo out of the way, I’m quite floored by how beautiful this restoration is. The film was made on a very small budget with a quick shooting schedule but it never looked or felt cheap in my opinion. Because they didn’t have a huge budget, the visual effects work is largely all practical and in camera - and looks great! Frame one to the credits, the details are crystal clear with a nice natural healthy film grain presence. The elements are also in immaculate shape without any signs of damage. The HDR grading in Dolby Vision (and HDR10) is also magnificent offering up healthy color balance, sharp bright whites, and deep inky creepy black levels. This is a film that really relies on the bumps and shadows to give you some scares and it looks amazing without offering so much clarity it spoils the tricks. An excellent transfer all around. 

Audio Review

Ranking:

Matching the video’s performance are the two terrific audio options. Fans can either choose from a Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix or a Japanese LPCM 2.0 track with English subtitles. No English dubbed option is available. Both tracks are excellent. I personally lean a little toward the 2.0 track as the better of the two, but I can’t deny the power and impact of the 5.1. That 5.1 certainly makes terrific use of the surround channels lending plenty of oomph for the big scares and that terrifying climactic moment. Dialog is clean and clear without issue.

Special Features

Ranking:

With over two hours of interviews and video essays on top of an audio commentary and a solo viewing of the cursed video itself, Arrow has done a terrific job with the extra features. At the top of the pack, the commentary with historian David Kalat is a nice and insightful piece of work. The next piece I really enjoyed was The Ringu Legacy which involved a number of franchise participants and their memories working on the series. Critic Kat Ellinger also drops by to discuss Nakata’s career for another nice piece and Jasper Sharp’s Spooks, Sighs, and Videotape is a very fun look at the J-Horror wave that took over movie theaters for a few years. 

  • Audio Commentary featuring historian David Kalat
  • The Ring Legacy (HD 27:34)
  • A Vicious Circle (HD 21:12)
  • Circumnavigating Ring (HD 24:56)
  • Spooks, Sighs, and Videotape (HD 37:29)
  • Sadako’s Video (HD 00:50)
  • Ring/Spiral Trailer 1
  • Ring/Spiral Trailer 2
  • UK Trailer
  • Image Gallery

Hideo Nakata’s Ringu arguably started the incredible wave of J-Horror titles to be imported stateside inspiring a range of domestic remakes and knockoffs. While the 2002 U.S. remake is awesome in its own right, it all started here. Nearly 30 years later Ringu has lost none of its potency, even if its sequels and remake sequels were better left down a deep dark well. Arrow Video delivers Ringu to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with an excellent Dolby Vision HDR transfer, rock-solid audio, and a trove of interesting and informative extras. Highly Recommended