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Sadako Vs. Kayako (Movie Review)

Sadako Vs. Kayako (Movie Review)
01.26.2017by: Jake Dee
5 10

Sadako vs Kayako movie review the ring the grudge

PLOT: After years of dormancy, two infamous Japanese curses and their ghastly manifestations - Sadako of RINGU and Kayako of JU-ON - are accidentally awoken and, in order to save a young girl's life, forced to fight each other to the death.

REVIEW: If 2003's FREDDY VS. JASON marked the preeminent showdown between American heavyweight horror villains, then there's little doubt the Japanese counterpart to such would have to be the shockingly sinister showdown of SADAKO VS. KAYAKO. As a riotous revivification of two moribund franchises, this moody monster-mash does a decent job of resetting two competing storylines. But just like FREDDY VS. JASON, there's a bit of a misnomer to the title, as only the final 10 minutes of the movie or so actually feature the two titular titans of J-horror lore squaring off. Until then, the movie essentially plays as two independent narratives that, as time unfolds, inevitably hurl toward a calculated collision in the end. For casual fans of either franchise, or both, a curious question may linger: what the hell's the point? But for rabid completists of formidable franchises RINGU and JU-ON, there's bound to be enough cool callbacks, killer crossover and even a few worthy new wrinkles to fill the insatiable void of a two-year character absence.

Sadako vs Kayako movie review the ring the grudge

The first story strand we're given is that of Natsumi (Ami Satsukawa) and her best friend Yuri (Mizuki Yamamoto). A bit of a luddite, the former asks the latter to help transfer her parent's taped wedding ceremony from VHS to DVD as an anniversary gift. Yuri agrees, and the two head off to buy a cheap, dusty old VCR-deck from a used electronics shop. Unbeknown to them, the Cursed Video of RINGU fame is firmly implanted in the VCR. A strange coincidence, no doubt, as the two girls just endured a university lecture, in which their professor expressed his obsession with the Cursed Video and his dogged determination to track down the authentic copy. The two gals decide to play the tape back at home, but right when the legendary Sadako (Elly Namani) appears onscreen and unleashes her odious curse, Yuri averts her eyes away from the screen in favor of a boy's text message. This leaves Natsumi as the sole victim who, after witnessing the wan, long-black-haired jinni, must await her ultimate fate after 48 hours: death!

The second thread sewn throughout is that of Suzuka (Tina Tamashiro), a cute Japanese teen understandably upset about her family moving away from her friends and school. Worse yet, Suzuka soon discovers that the house across the street from her new one is the fey abode from JU-ON, the inhabitants of which happen to be Kayako (Runa Endo) - the spastic wall-crawling ghoul - and her trusty little sidekick Toshio - the creepy little zombie-boy. Upon learning the abduction of four innocent schoolboys were in fact related to the accursed house across the street, Suzuka's investigation leads her too close to the ghosts, and soon she too is held tightly under Kayako's spiritual clutch. Her only line of recourse? Enlisting the help of local medium Keizo (Masanobu Andô) and his young assistant Tamao (Maiko Kikuchi), who suggest Suzuka watch the Cursed Video in order to combine curses and let the two ghastly villains fight to the death over the girl's embattled soul.

Sadako vs Kayako movie review the ring the grudge

As mentioned above, while there's some requisite bloodshed along the way, the Sadako/Kayako showdown doesn't come until the final few moments of the film. And honestly, when it finally does, it falls underwhelmingly short of expectations. It's not the ballistic, balls-to-the-wall beat-down seen at the end of FREDDY VS. JASON. That said, it is pretty cool to witness such iconic J-horror femme-fatale phantoms share the screen together. The juxtaposition of the frenzied, jittery, fast-moving Kayako and the stolid, still and slow demeanor of Sadako makes for an unsettling synthesis. It's as if you want to run from one and hide from the other, but with both there, neither is a favorable avenue. I do wish we saw more of them together, fighting more ferociously when enmeshed, as well as overall more bloodletting at the hands of each. Alas, most of the 96-minute runtime is devoted to the two making the two separate narratives feel genuinely cohesive when they two finally converge in the end. If, for whatever reason, a SADAKO VS. KAYAKO sequel is made, the filmmakers could and should skip the already laid groundwork and just jump right into the mid-rounds of the baleful heavyweight (okay, featherweight) bout.

So look, if you're a voracious devotee to all things RINGU and/or JU-ON, or happen to be a keenly adamant observer of the times when undisputed horror legends face-off, by all means give SADAKO VS. KAYAKO a peek. While you might be a bit let down by the length and strength of the showdown itself, the way in which the life and lore of both franchises are deliberately woven into each other is sure to excite. However, if you're merely a casual to indifferent watcher of RINGU, JU-ON, or any of the dozen of redos, offshoots and reboots, SADAKO VS. KAYAKO isn't likely going to be the persuasive chapter to abduct your zeal. Without at all being preachy, this is a film that will speak to the converts without swaying the uninitiated.

Extra Tidbit: Who's your money on?
Source: AITH

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