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Rasen (Iida Joji 1998)



Genre: Sexy Supernatural Horror

review in one breath

Rasen is directed by Iida Joji and was billed as the sequel to Ringu until Ringu director Nakata Hideo directed his own sequel, Ringu 2 a year later. These two sequels present radically different takes on the events following the initial saga of Ringu. In Ringu 2, the story revolves around Mai's (student and lover of Ryuji) search and adventures with Yoichi (Ryuji's son) which eventually pits them against creepy Sadako, the uncanny accuracy of ESP, and quasi-scientific techno babble. Rasen, on the other hand, follows the amorous encounters of Mai and (genetic engineer) Ando, which eventually pits them against a seductive Sadako, the uncanny accuracy of ESP, and quasi-scientific techno babble. (!)

Ring Movies

Ringu (1998)
Rasen (1998)
Ringu 2 (1999)
Ring: The Final Chapter (1999)
Ringu 0 (2000)

The truth is, all the prequels and sequels related to the original Ringu have been difficult to review objectively. This is because, although they are in fact good "horror" stories in their own right, none of them come close to the horror delivery of the original. Rasen in its own right is in fact an interesting story, but due to its complete (literal) makeover of Sadako and her "cravings", it seems miles apart from anything "Ring-ish".

Why do I say this? I'm glad you asked. BEWARE: Major "spoilage" ahead

First, you know your plot is headed out into the boondocks when the main characters of the original story are all suddenly dead by the time your story begins. Here, Reiko (the reporter/mother in Ringu), her father (to whom she was headed when Ringu concluded), and even her son Yoichi (who mysteriously appears alive and well in Ringu 2) are all declared dead and conveniently stricken from the story. This leaves only Mai and the corpse of Ryuji (who was the last to die in Ringu) to connect these two storylines.

Second, the reason that Ringu was such a hit was because Sadako scared the daylights out of all of us. She was creepy, lurching, demonic, something darker than we dared think was possible. Enter the Sadako of Rasen whose scariest feature is the "devilish" smirk she employs just before she french kisses Ando as he tries to look scared at being sexually seduced by a good-looking young girl. Yes, that's right. Sadako has traded in her grimy, lurching routine for supple skin, slightly damp lingerie, and brilliantly red lipstick. And forget her need for demonic spiritual revenge. She now wants bodies, your body, your hot, fruitful body, beneath the sheets... NOW!

Yowza! Sadako never looked so hot! (And she was looking pretty good in Ringu 0!). And the fact that she is now hell-bent on getting pregnant makes this even better. And to give you an idea as to how much she has reformed, after the completion of her dastardly deed with unsuspecting (yet nonetheless glowing) Ando, she lets him live and go along his merry way! What? At least do the Black Widow thing!

See, this was all a plan by Sadako... no wait. This was all a plan by Ryuji which involved Sadako... no wait. Well, its actually hard to say what happened, other than Sadako and Ryuji both seemed to know the reasons behind what happened and seem pretty confident that their plan was quite brilliant. In the end, however, their smugness does not carry over to the audience which will be sitting there wondering if all the characters in the original Ringu simply misunderstood poor Sadako when in fact she was a horny, beautiful young woman simply trying to get a little action. (!)

See what I mean about the difficulty of reviewing these Ringu-related movies? Do you hear a little (!) sarcasm in my voice as you read this? Seriously though, Rasen should not really be considered a "horror" since there are no real scary moments, certainly none of the sort as from Ringu. You might consider it a "thriller" though without the thrills, save for learning more about the outcome of the Ringu conclusion.

I'm glad I watched this, and found it to be a good story. It is much better, though, if not seen with expectations of confrontations with the original Sadako.

cultural interest violence sex strangeness
Original sequel to Ringu which flopped in the box office despite alot of sex, lingerie, and discussions of DNA engineering. Go figure. One rather lively cadaver (post autopsy). One carefully weighed liver. Several violent rashes. One major clunk of head on floor after falling down due to foresaid rash. Our two leading ladies (Mai and Sadako) give poor Ando a couple lessons in love technique that he won't soon forget (nor will he try). Watch as sexy Sadako turns up the heat and seduces a well-paid doctor in order to spawn a love child who turns up the heat and seduces a well-paid doctor in order to... wait a minute...

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