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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Pulse"  or "Kairo")

 

directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Japan 2001

Award-winning filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa delivered one of the finest entries in the "J-Horror" cycle of films with this moody and spiritually terrifying film that delivers existential dread along with its frights. Setting his story in the burgeoning internet and social media scene in Japan, Kurosawa's dark and apocalyptic film foretells how technology will only serve to isolate us as it grows more important to our lives.

A group of young people in Tokyo begin to experience strange phenomena involving missing co-workers and friends, technological breakdown, and a mysterious website which asks the compelling question, "Do you want to meet a ghost?" After the unexpected suicides of several friends, three strangers set out to explore a city which is growing more empty by the day, and to solve the mystery of what lies within a forbidden room in an abandoned construction site, mysteriously sealed shut with red packing tape.

Featuring haunting cinematography by Junichiro Hayashi (Ring, Dark Water), a dark and unsettling tone which lingers long after the movie is over, and an ahead-of-its-time story which anticipates 21st century disconnection and social media malaise, Pulse is one of the greatest and most terrifying achievements in modern Japanese horror, and a dark mirror for our contemporary digital world.

***

A strange computer virus is spreading through Japan which shows grainy images of people senselessly mulling around their computers and asking "Would you like to meet a ghost?" Soon doors begin being sealed with red tape and the population starts to drop sharply. A group of young people get wise to this strange phenomenon and attempt to track down its origin. Smoke begins to loom on the horizon and the streets are barren.

Kurosawa furthers his protagonist manifesto with Kairo. He manages to create a intriguing and frightening "straight" horror film with an underlying theme of the loneliness prevalent in modern Japanese culture. In a sense, this Kurosawa's nod to Romero's seminal Dawn of the Dead. It parallels the film and shares its sense of vastness. With "J-Horror" perhaps in it's death throws for the time being, this film could very well represent the pinnacle of the trend.

Jayson Kennedy

Posters

Theatrical Release: February 10, 2001

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Comparison:

Universe Laser - Region 3 - NTSC vs. Optimum - Region 2 - PAL vs. Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Jayson Kennedy and Henrik Sylow for the DVD Screen Caps!

 

1) Universe Laser - Region 3 - NTSC  - LEFT

2) Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Covers

Thinking of buying from YesAsia? CLICK HERE and use THIS UPDATED BEAVER PAGE to source their very best...

  

Arrow's Blu-ray package is also available in the UK:

Distribution

Universe Laser

Region 3 - NTSC

Optimum
Region 2 - PAL
Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:58:50 1:54:16 (4% PAL Speedup) 1:58:57.880
Video

1.82:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 4.57 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 4.59 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.78:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 49,165,641,362 bytes

Feature: 34,852,080,576 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Universe Laser

 

Bitrate:

 

Optimum

 

Bitrate:

Blu-ray

 

Audio 5.1 Dolby Digital Japanese

2.0 Dolby Digital Japanese

LPCM Audio Japanese 2304 kbps 2.0 /
48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English, Chinese, None English (fixed) English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Universe Laser

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.82:1

Edition Details:
• None

DVD Release Date: March 8, 2002
Amarey

Chapters 8

Release Information:
Studio: Optimum

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Making of (41:02 / 4:3)
• Trailer (1:42 / 4:3)
 

DVD Release Date: March 27, 2006
Keep Case

Chapters 16

Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Video

 

1.78:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 49,165,641,362 bytes

Feature: 34,852,080,576 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

 

Edition Details:

• Broken Circuits: a new video interview with writer/director Kiyoshi Kurosawa (43:53)
• Creepy Images: a new video interview with cinematographer Junichiro Hayashi (25:03)
• The Horror of Isolation: a new video appreciation featuring Adam Wingard & Simon Barrett (Blair Witch, You re Next) (17:11)
• Original Making of documentary, plus four archive behind-the-scenes featurettes (41:03)
• Premiere footage from the Cannes Film Festival (7:04) Intro (2:57)
• Cast and crew introductions from opening day screenings in Tokyo

• Special Effects Breakdowns (4 scenes - 6:22, 5:02, 4:31, 10:18)
• TV Spots (4:16)

• NHK Station IDs (0:15)
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tommy Pocket

 

Blu-ray Release Date: July 10th-11th, 2017
Transparent
Blu-ray case

Chapters 12

 

 

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray June 2017: This is being simultaneously released by Arrow on Blu-ray in both Region 'A' + 'B'. Regarding differences in the US and UK Blu's - This appears to be as Michael Brooke informed us on Facebook about Day of Anger: 'As the producer of Arrow's release, I can confirm first hand that the UK and US discs are absolutely identical: we only paid for one master, so there's no doubt about this at all! Which means that no matter which package you buy, the discs will play in any Region A or B setup (or Region 1 or 2 for DVD - and in the latter case the video standard is NTSC, to maximise compatibility). The booklets are also identical, but there are minor cosmetic differences on the disc labels and sleeve to do with differing copyright info and barcodes, and the US release doesn't have BBFC logos.'

The Arrow transfer is on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate. The film's style shows through strongly in 1080P via a highly grainy presentation. It is authentically very textured and dark. Of the two SDs compared the BD supports the colors and contrast of the Universe Laser but is far richer but has no unsightly artifacts or noise. The 1.78;1 aspect ratio may be marginally cropped beside the Region 3 DVD. The Optimum looks far too green. The Arrow adds to the film's impact with such a dense third-generation intention. As Slant magazine states HERE: "Shot on 35mm film, Pulse nonetheless apes the look of early digital, with thick fields of grain that resemble SD pixelation. Shadows permeate the film, not in the angular, inky pools of darkness that horror, like noir, has long inherited from German expressionism, but in grimy blotches that muck up pale glimmers of light—like the blemishes on the skin of someone who’s spent too much time indoors in front of a computer." The Blu-ray looks consistent and woolly in-motion as per the filmmaker's intentions.

For the audio we get a linear PCM 2.0 stereo track (24-bit) adding substantially the viewing experience. The score by Takefumi Haketa is subtle with dramatic shifts that augment mystery and tension, sounding restrained but intense in the uncompressed. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE. 

 Arrow stack their Blu-ray release with extras - new and old. Broken Circuits is a new video interview with writer/director Kiyoshi Kurosawa running 3/4 of an hour discussing the production, filming and how it fits into his oeuvre. Creepy Images is a new, 25-minute, video interview with cinematographer Junichiro Hayashi discussing the film's style. The Horror of Isolation is a new, 17-minute, video appreciation featuring Adam Wingard & Simon Barrett discussing Pulse's themes of isolation, loneliness and the theory of it in a trilogy with The Cure and Charisma. It has some good analysis - I enjoyed it. We also get the film's original, 40-minute, Making of documentary, plus four archive behind-the-scenes representing the Special Effects Breakdowns that run about 1/2 hour. We see the Premiere footage from the Cannes Film Festival plus introductions, TV Spots and a brief NHK Station ID. The package contains a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tommy Pocket, plus for the BD's first pressing an illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Chuck Stephens. Being Dual-format a second disc DVD is included!

Another thorough and complete Blu-ray package from Arrow. This is easily the definitive and a must own for fans of the director or the J-Horror genre. The film has never been more impacting for me than seeing it in HD. It's been a while since I initially saw it an even after seeing the Blu-ray - I want the experience again. Absolutely recommended! This is a brilliant horror - one of the creepiest I recall.

 -Gary

***

ON THE DVDs:

Comments by Jayson Kennedy (on Universe Laser Edition)
This film certainly deserves better. No supplemental material. Interlaced (but anamorphic) transfer. I'm pretty sure the dark, drab green tone to the the film is intentional and it may not be able to look much better. Hopefully the upcoming R1 Magnolia edition fares better. I know I have my fingers crossed.

Note: This DVD (and others) has a slight audio edit from the original theatrical presentation. There is a scene of a flaming C-130H Hercules airlifter crashing into a building. In the original version you could hear the aircraft descending and exploding upon impact. On this DVD you only hear the score playing over the scene. This audio was omitted because of 9/11. I have heard the now OOP Japanese DVD includes the full audio, but I cannot confirm this.

Comments by Henrik Sylow
Optimum is a PAL transfer of R1 Magnolia. There are minute artifacts, but only visible when zooming in on a stillframe, thus virtually undetectable at normal viewing.

The transfer appears to be based on the theatrical print. It has a very high level of contrast, making especially the sky look just white without details.

Sound is sadly only 2.0 Dolby Digital. I've seen it theatrically and on DVD with the 5.1 surround, and Optimum is lacking the extremely eerie use of the rears, which to me is of huge importance to the atmosphere of the film.
 

 


DVD Menus

(Universe Laser - Region 3 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)
 

 

 

Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Universe Laser - Region 3 - NTSC  - TOP

2) Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Subtitle sample - Capture is resized from 1016px to 800px


 

1) Universe Laser - Region 3 - NTSC  - TOP

2) Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Universe Laser - Region 3 - NTSC  - TOP

2) Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Universe Laser - Region 3 - NTSC  - TOP

2) Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray captures

 

Box Covers

Thinking of buying from YesAsia? CLICK HERE and use THIS UPDATED BEAVER PAGE to source their very best...

  

Arrow's Blu-ray package is also available in the UK:

Distribution

Universe Laser

Region 3 - NTSC

Optimum
Region 2 - PAL
Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray

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Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Blu-ray




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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