Sadako 3D (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
May 24, 2013 by Dennis Amith
The fifth “Ring” film brings Sadako to 3D. The film has its creepy moments and its 3D and lossless audio on Blu-ray is effective in scaring some people, but for those expecting it to be anywhere near the scariness or level of writing like the original film may be disappointed. But for those who enjoy the “Ring” films and have a 3D-enabled television or Blu-ray player, “Sadako 3D” is worth giving a try!
TITLE: Sadako 3D
FILM RELEASE: 2012
DURATION: 97 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 16:9 widescreen, Japanese Stereo/DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Subtitles: English
COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment
RATED: Not Rated
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Directed by Tsutomu Hanabusa
Based on the Novel by Koji Suzuki
Screenplay by Yoshinobu Fujioka, Tsutomu Hanabusa
Produced by Atsuyuki Shimoda
Executive Producer: Shinichirou Inoue
Music by Kenji Kawai
Cinematography by Nobushige Fujimoto
Production Design by Yasuaki Harada
Art Direction by Yasuaki Harada
Satomi Ishihara as Akane Ayukawa
Koji Seto as Takanori Ando
Yusuke Yamamoto as Kiyoshi Kashiwada
Ryosei Tayama as Detective Koiso
Ai Hashimoto as Sadako
Sadako waits, a vicious spirit, hungry for blood and souls. What began as a haunted videotape, passed from hand to cursed hand all those years ago in THE RING, has only gotten easier to find. Sadako waits. And it’s not just on tape anymore. At a local high school, there is a rumor. An online video of someone committing suicide. If it were only a prank, or the work of a deranged artist in town, the students wouldn’t be killing themselves after watching it, would they? The police would have a theory about the quickly-growing body count? And what about the woman in white with long hair? Sadako is always hungry. And she’s no longer alone.
In Japan, similar to America, they have horror films that continue to be released every few years.
For Japan, one of those horror films that continue to be released are the “Ring” films, based on the novels by Koji Suzuki. Films that have inspired American and Korean remakes and an visual image that remains a scary figure for people in Japan, to this day.
The antagonist for the films is an entity known as Sadako Yamamura and for each film, it appears the history of the long dark black haired woman (or in the novel’s case, a hermaphrodite) wearing white, seems to be muddled. A person with a “Ring Virus”, a person that was born with psychic powers and in the past, she is able to kill people with a cursed tape which in the past had traveled a person’s body and killing them.
Of course, things have changed a bit with Sadako’s storyline and the same can be said about the fifth film titled “Sadako 3D”, a film based on Koji Suzuki’s novel “S” and is directed by Tsutomu Hanabusa. It’s also a chance for the film to bring Sadako to a modern era via attacking people through PC/cell phone technology and also using 3D technology to give audiences more of a frightening experience at the cinema.
“Sadako 3D” begins with a mysterious man in white looking down a well and dropping a long-haired woman wearing a white night dress. When she falls, it is revealed that there are many women, with long black hair wearing a white night dresses that are dead in the bottom of the well.
The film is now set 13 years after the original film and we see a man looking at his computer. He receives a voice telling him “You’re not the one”. He stands up in a gaze and walks towards the middle of a busy street and is run over by a big truck.
Sent to the scene are Detective Koiso (portrayed by Ryosei Tayama) and his young partner. They try to piece together if this is another suicide but with mysterious suicides taking place in the city and none of the individuals were seen to be suicidal, the detectives are puzzled. The young partner tries to explain to Koiso that there are rumors about a cursed video, but the elder detective doesn’t believe in such nonsense.
We are then introduced to Akane Ayukawa (portrayed by Satomi Ishihara), a teacher and lives with her boyfriend, a designer named Takanori Ando (portrayed by Koji Seto), who is often busy with work.
One day during class, two teenage girls are discussing a cursed video on the Internet that if someone sees it, they will die. When Akane tries to tell their students that there is no such thing and looks at the “cursed video” that the girl was trying to look at, it ends up being snails and nothing else.
But later that night, the teenager who is looking at the video receives a message that “You’re not the one” and the girl is pushed out the window of her home and falls to her death.
As Detective Koiso and the partner try to interview people at school to find out if the girl was suicidal, no one believes she was. Akane can’t understand why her student is dead.
But after Akane’s interview with the police, the girl’s good friend Lisa confronts her about the girl using the phone to find the cursed video. Detective Koiso overhears their conversation and tries to get more information on it from his young partner, despite not believing in it.
One day at school, Akane is unable to find Lisa and people tell her that she may be in the study room trying to find the cursed video. This prompts Akane to worry and run to find her.
As Lisa is looking at the video, a man named Kashiwada (portrayed by Yusuke Yamamoto) says “It’s showtime” and he commits suicide by letting Sadako (a long-haired woman) kill him. When the video ends, Sadako comes out of the computer screen and tries to kill Lisa by strangulation. Her teacher Akane comes in time and tries to free her from Sadako and Sadako sees Akane and says “You are the one”. Akane screams and the computer blows up. But after the situation, Lisa worries that her teacher may have a connection with the thing that is killing people and is afraid of her.
Meanwhile, Detective Koiso and his partner investigate this Kashiwada and inside his apartment, they realize the place looks artificial. As for Akane, every video screen she sees, she fears that Sadako may come out of it.
Back at home, a frightened Akane tells her boyfriend Takanori of what happened at school that day, we are then taken to the past and we find out that a long time ago, a killer went to her school and tried to attack the students. It is revealed that she has telekinetic powers and was able to save her classmates, but because of it, everyone feared her and saw her as a freak. Except Takanori who was grateful that Akane saved him and others and the two ended up becoming a couple.
But as Takanori goes to check the cursed video for himself, while Akane is sleeping, Akane is awakened by the sounds of Kashiwada. She runs to check what Takanori is doing and once again, Sadako comes out of his computer trying to kill him. Akane is able to scream and destroy Kashiwada’s computer but both know that wherever there is a computer, Sadako will go after her. So, both end up running away from their home. But they realize that video screens are all over Japan and a giant vehicle video billboard is right near them and Sadako comes out and snatches Takanori and brings him inside the video board.
Back at police headquarters, Detective Koiso’s partner had been researching the video and his appearance has turned to Sadako. He tells Detective Koiso what he learned but in the process, Sadako controls him and he shoots and kills himself.
Akane now must find a way to rescue her boyfriend Takanori, while Detective Koiso must find out the mystery of Kashiwada and Sadako.
“Sadako 3D” is presented in 1:85:1 aspect ratio and one disc comes with both the 3D and 2D version of the film. First, let’s discuss the 2D version of the film. Shot digitally, picture quality is very good for “Sadako 3D”. Skin tones are natural, black levels are nice and deep. I saw no artifacts or banding or any negative issues during my viewing of the film. Good amount of detail during closeups and outdoor scenes are vibrant and colorful, while darker scenes are ominous and creepy.
As for the 3D presentation, there are many scenes where you see people falling towards you. Glass shattering from a computer screen or window and the glass shards are coming towards you. Even scenes where Sadako pops out of the screen and looks as she is going to strangle you. The 3D is by no means the greatest, but it is effective when trying to get scare people or get them to jump out of their seats.
It’s important that one owns a 3D-enabled Blu-ray player and television to play this film on 3D. Otherwise, if you don’t have these devices, you can still watch the 2D version on Blu-ray.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Sadako 3D” is presented in Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Stereo. I was impressed by the fact that there are scenes that tend to the utilize the surround and rear surround channels quite well. From glass shattering to high pitch screams. The ambiance is also quite spooky at times and the sounds of Sadako or the monsters are creepy and makes the viewing experience quite creepy. There are scenes with some LFE, especially during a low rumble during an earthquake but this is a film that utilizes ambiance and shock value to scare the audience, especially when Sadako jumps out of a screen.
“Sadako 3D” comes with no special features.
“Sadako 3D” comes with a lenticular slipcover.
When it comes to “Sadako 3D”, I often think about the “Friday the 13th”, “Halloween”, “Paranormal Activity” films. Many people feel the original are better and with each film churned out each year or every other year,, they seem to get worse and worse.
Yes, it’s subjective to the viewer but when it comes to the “Ring” series, what made the original much more captivating is its deep storyline and its creepiness but also, the original “Ring” film had a pretty solid cast with popular actors Nanako Matsushima and Hiroyuki Sanada featured in the film.
While its counterpart “Rasen” (filmed at the same time and released on the same day back in January 1998) did miserably in the box office, a sequel was made the following year titled “Ring 2” and a prequel titled “Ring 0: Birthday” which actually features Sadako Yamamura as the film’s protagonist).
As the prequel was satisfying, it tinkered with the Sadako history of having two Sadako’s. With “Sadako 3D”, takes the story into a whole new direction with a mad scientist known as Seiji Kashiwada experimenting on women in order to revive Sadako and so, she can find the ideal host and take over her.
While the concept makes me want to roll my eyes and shake my head of what has happened to the whole “Ring” film series and where it’s headed, I also realize how popular the character of Sadako really is. In Japan, there was a Sadako parade of long haired individuals wearing white to promote the film, a large Sadako with her hands reaching forward being driven throughout Tokyo. And to this day, a good number of pranks are shown on television (and make it on YouTube). For the most part, people can’t get enough of Sadako because they love the scare factor.
So, while the films are not as deep as the original first film, they still provide that additional scare factor that Japanese want to see in horror films and what best than to take advantage of the situation by bringing Sadako to the modern age without VHS tapes but on computer screens and cell phones. Making Sadako now being able to reach her victims through online video and now scaring people in 3D.
While “Sadako 3D” is a “Ring” film, aside from Sadako, there really is no major connection to past films aside that people are dying and there is an investigation of what is causing the deaths.
As a commercial 3D film, the film is effective when it uses 3D to scare people out of their seats. While 3D effects show glass shards flowing towards you, it’s Sadako jumping out of the screen that scares people. Adding the creepy ambiance, “Sadako 3D” does have its creepy moments. As a horror film, this is not one to scare you or sicken you. There is little blood, there is violence via strangulation or people shooting themselves, getting hit by a car or falling off a building but other than that, this is not a film that even those who freak out during horror films will find themselves covering their eyes.
While the 3D film on Blu-ray is effective when it comes to 3D and lossless audio, it’s lacking of any special features unfortunately.
Overall, “Sadako 3D” is definitely nowhere near the same fright factor or storyline of the original “Ring” film and truthfully none of the four films after the first film has lived up to the original and probably, never will.
But what makes “Sadako 3D” different than the other films is that Sadako now can scare you via 3D. But is that enough to recommend? For those wanting a horror film on Blu-ray 3D, maybe.
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