Ok, now this is a perfect example of me completely falling asleep on the job. Back in the dying days of Blockbuster, I was buying dozens of movies for cheap at the nearby stores. Well, one day I noticed that they had almost all of the Ring movies, both the Japanese and American remakes, and decided to purchase them. Key word there is ALMOST. See, the one movie that the did not have was Ringu, the original Japanese version of The Ring (2002). No worries though, I said to myself, I will simply find it somewhere else or buy it online. Obviously, I never actually got around to doing that which is why I end up watching the original sequel to that movie today. Well, time to stop kicking myself for being a procrastinator and watch today’s movie, Rasen.
The plot: Mitsuo Ando, suffering from his own bout of depression, receives a phone call telling him that Ryuji Takayama, a friend from medical school, is dead and he is to perform an autopsy on the body. When Ando arrives at work, he finds several police there discussing the matter and how there are no signs of foul play but no sign as to why he died either. Ando performs the autopsy but as it is nearly finished, he has a vision of Ryuji’s body suddenly sitting up and commenting about how Ando can’t even slit his own wrists but he can cut up his body. As Ando is washing off after the autopsy, one of his assistants hands him a note that was found inside Ryuji’s stomach. Ando speaks with the detective assigned to the case, who tells him about Ryuji having reconnected with his ex-wife Reiko Asakawa but the day Ryuji died, she disappeared along with their son Yoichi. The detective has Ando try and speak with Ryuji’s girlfriend, Mai Takano, and Ando asks her some questions concerning Ryuji’s health before he died. When the detective starts asking her questions, Mai ends up fainting and wakes up to find Ando looking after her. The two talk and Mai says that Ryuji had mentioned Ando before and talked about how they came up with coded messages during med school. She mentions the video and then says that Ryuji told her that only Ando could figure out what is going on. Mai heads back to Ryuji’s apartment, where she has a vision of how Ryuji died as well as a flashback to when she found him and she breaks down and cries over the chalk outline left in the floor. The next day, Ando is discussing the case with his boss when they receive a phone call from the police saying that they found Reiko and Yoichi, as she had been involved in a car crash. When Ando and his boss show up at the scene, the detective tells him that it appears that Yoichi was already dead before the crash occurred. When a man, Yoshino, photographs the inside of the car, the detective yells at him and Yoshino explains that he was Reiko’s boss and points out a smashed video deck in the car, which draws Ando’s interest. Later, Ando is talking to Mai about the crash and she talks about how Ryuji was acting before he died. Yoshino shows up at the med school to speak to Ando and shows him Reiko’s diary, which describes a video tape that somehow kills people. Reiko first heard about it when 4 people watched the tape and then all died a week later from heart attacks. She went and found the tape and learned of Sadako Yamamura, the young woman that is on the tape. Yoshino says that Reiko believed if you made a copy of the tape and showed it to someone else, then you would be spared from the tape’s curse. Yoshino then hands Ando the dub of the tape that he found in Reiko’s apartment and hands it to him, saying it is a present. When Ando gets home, he works on trying to decipher the coded message that was found in Ryuji’s stomach and realizes it spells present. Figuring it means the tape, Ando watches it and ends up being visited by Sadako’s spirit and he quickly smashes the tape. The next day, he goes to see Yoshino and tells him not to report on Sadako and tells him to give him the copy of the tape that he made so that he can destroy it, so that he will be the last victim but Yoshino refuses and Ando ends up being knocked unconscious when he tries to attack Yoshino for the tape. Ando talks to Mai and says he believes Ryuji knew this would happen and he would ensure all of the copies of the tape were destroyed after he got what he wanted. When Mai asks what he means, he tells her about his son dying and how he wanted to kill himself but keeps chickening out so by watching the tape, he will get his wish but Mai says that Ryuji wouldn’t have wanted that. Ando goes to see Yoshino at his home and sees pictures of scenes from the tape and accuses Yoshino of watching it. Yoshino swears he didn’t and hands Ando the diary and the copy of the tape he had but as he heads to his room, he collapses to the floor. Ando checks on him and determines he is dead, just as Mai shows up and Ando quickly ushers her out of the room. Ando smashes the tape and says that he will be the curse’s last victim and Mai tries to console him as he admits that he is afraid of dying. Ando and Mai end up having sex and afterwards, Ando asks if Mai will stay with him when he dies but she tells him she is too scared. Ando then decides to figure out what the curse could actually be and thinks it could be smallpox, as there was a smallpox clinic in the area where Sadako was killed, and has some cultures taken from him to see if he has it. Meanwhile, Mai wakes up feeling sick and heads to her bathroom to vomit but when she looks in the mirror, she sees Sadako standing behind her and when Ando goes to see Mai later, she has vanished. The next day, Ando gets the results back from his cultures and is told that he shows no sign of the virus, but Ando notices that his friend Miyashita, is coughing much like Yoshino was. Ando sees Mai in the lobby and the two sneak off to a stairway to make out but Ando is shocked when Mai licks him much like Sadako did in his dream. When a body is fished out of an air shaft, Ando is called to the hospital and sees that it is Mai. The detective tells him that it looked like she had just given birth but there was no sign of the baby. As Ando heads back to his car, Miyashita approaches him, showing signs of infection, and says the diary also contains the virus, as both he and Yoshino never saw the video, and asks Ando how he cured himself but Ando says he didn’t do anything. Ando heads to the office to find the Mai look-a-like retrieving Reiko’s diary from his desk. She reveals herself to be Sadako, reborn when he had sex with Mai and explains how this came to be. She then tells Ando that the same process that allowed her to be reborn could let him bring his son back as well. Ando gets Miyashita to help him, though Miyashita says they are basically selling out the world to Sadako. Some time later, Ando is on the beach with his son when he is approached by Ryuji and Mai/Sadako. Ryuji says that Reiko’s diary is being turned into a novel and the virus will spread all over the world and after they leave, Ando feels guilty about what he did but chooses to accept it as he stares out into the ocean with his son.
Since I have not seen the original movie, I honestly can’t say how good of a sequel this is. On it’s own merits, this is a little weird and not quite what I expected. The acting was ok, with Koichi Sato (Ando) and Miki Nakatani (Mai) doing good jobs in their roles. The story was a bit confusing and tried to make this less of a supernatural horror movie and more of a medical/science style movie instead. From what I read, this is supposed to be closer to the book it is based on but it still just made it feel boring. There wasn’t much in the way of special effects but the camera work in the movie did a good job of giving this a more suspenseful tone than expected. A decent movie but definitely confusing and really serves to make me watch the first movie that much more.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5