Ring Virus, The
Starring:
Eun-Kyung Shin, Du-na Bae
Directed By:
Kim Dong-Bin
Grade
C+

It seems like everyone has tried to make their own take on Suzuki Koji's The Ring, a story of a cursed videotape that kills whoever watches it seven days after they view it. While the American version brought this story to popular light in North America and the Japanese version was credited with influencing it, I would have to say that the Korean version, The Ring Virus, is actually the most true to the original novel. While I won't go into the differences here (that's an article for another day), I will say that The Ring Virus does manage to do a good job at balancing between the book and the Japanese film.

Once again, the story finds a female journalist looking into the mysterious death of her cousin, which eventually leads her to the cursed tape. She enlists the aid of a doctor with paranormal sensibilities to help her solve the riddle of the tape before she dies. Of course, since he watched the tape, he himself also has a vested interest in solving the riddle. The riddle leads them to hunt down Eun-suh, a young woman with paranormal abilities who they believe created the videotape. Before the seven days are up, they discover that she, in fact, is dead and they must solve her murder in hopes of breaking the curse.

The Ring Virus is really hard to nail down. I really liked the fact that it was more true to the original novel and that there was actually more character development in this version than the Japanese version. Also, the flashback sequences are excellent, especially the one where Eun-suh is working in the acting troupe. The music alone in the scene makes it disturbing and eerie. The problem is that The Ring Virus really feels like it was slapped together to cash in on the Ringu craze while it was still hot on that side of the world. There are a number of story elements that are left hanging and the movie really requires that the viewer has a prior knowledge of at least Ringu and more preferably The Ring novel.

To top it all off, The Ring Virus has quite possibly the worst subtitles that I have even seen. Yes, there is no English dub on the DVD I watched. The English subtitles seemed to have been roughly translated in the span of a single viewing and feature some exceptionally bad broken English. It's made worse when whole lines are viewed a few seconds before a line is spoken. During the course of a conversation, this makes figuring out who is saying what a massive chore.

If you are a huge fan of The Ring (book or movie) or Ringu, I'd suggest giving this a rent just to see what the Korean version has to offer. If you haven't been familiar with the other works mentioned, don't bother as The Ring Virus doesn't provide anything new to the mythos.

- - Vane

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