Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 24th, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 2001
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Cast: Haruhiko Katô, Kumiko Asô, Koyuki, Kurume Arisaka, Masatoshi Matsuo, Shinji Takeda, Jun Fubuki, Shun Sugata, Shô Aikawa, Kôji Yakusho, Kenji Mizuhashi
BluRay released: July 10th, 2017 (UK), July 11th, 2017 (USA)
Approximate running time: 119 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: LPCM Stereo Japanese
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region A,B / Region 1,2 NTSC
Retail Price: $39.95 (USA) / £17.99 (UK)
Pulse was written and directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa whose other notable films include, Guard from the Underground, Cure, Serpent’s Past, Eyes of the Spider, Tokyo Sonata and Creepy. The cinematographer on Pulse was Jun’ichirô Hayashi whose other notable films include, Ringu, Dark Water, Kaidan and Cyborg Girl.
Pulse was made during the height of the J Horror cinema. And though the film features many of the elements that have since become synonymous with J Horror cinema. The end result is a film that transcends the genre from which it drew inspiration from.
The narrative contains two parallel stories that ultimately intersect by the film’s final act. The meticulously constructed narrative does a superb job establishing who everyone is and what is about to unfold. And pacing is never an issue, as key moments are given an ample amount of time to resonate.
The cast are convincing in their respective roles. With this film’s standout performance being Kumiko Asô (Instant Swamp) in the role of Michi Kudo, a young woman whose world closes in on her, when something sinister makes her friends disappear into thin air. Other performances of note include, Koyuki (Alive) in the role of Harue Karasawa, a young woman who knowledge of computers leads to her own demise and Haruhiko Katô (Aiki) in the role of Ryosuke Kawashima, a young man whose life intersects with Michi Kudo’s search for the truth.
Another strength of the film are its haunting visuals. And nowhere is this more evident than in how the visuals do not go the usual route that one would expect from a Horror film. With said visuals doing an extraordinary job reinforcing this film’s main theme of isolation.
At the heart of this film is tale about what is waiting for us after we have departed our time her in this world. And this film does an excellent job in regards to presenting this theme. With its finale providing a very satisfying summation to the events that have just unfolded.
Pulse comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This transfer was sourced from a HD master that was created by Kadowawa Pictures. Colors are muted, black levels tend to look grayish and details generally look crisp. With that being said, this transfer appears to be in line with the way this film is intended to look.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM stereo mix in Japanese and included with this release are removable English subtitles. The more ambient aspects are well represented, dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced.
Extras for this release include, two NHK station ID’s (15 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), T.V. spots (4 minutes 15 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), Tokyo premier introduction (7 minutes 4 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), Cannes Film Festival (2 minutes 57 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), archive ‘Making of’ documentary (41 minutes 3 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), Special Effects Breakdowns – The Suicide Jump (6 minutes 22 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), Harue’s Death Scene (5 minutes 2 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), Junko’s Death Scene (4 minutes 31 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles) and Dark Room Scenes (10 minutes 18 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles), a new video appreciation featuring Adam Wingard & Simon Barrett titled The Horror of Isolation (17 minutes 11 seconds), an interview with cinematographer Junichiro Hayashi titled Creepy Images (25 minutes 3 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles) and an interview with writer/director Kiyoshi Kurosawa titled Broken Circuits (43 minutes 53 seconds, in Japanese with English subtitles).
Topics discussed in the interview with Junichiro Hayashi include, the role that sound and image play in Horror cinema, visual influences, director Kiju Yoshida and collaborating with him on Wuthering Heights, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Pulse / the visuals and Horror cinema.
Topics discussed in the interview with Kiyoshi Kurosawa include, his origins as a filmmaker shooting Pink and straight to video films, Shô Aikawa, Cure, Charisma, Pulse and how it was inspired by Ringu, J-Horror, ghosts, isolation / social media, Tobe Hooper’s influence on him as a filmmaker and audience reaction to the film.
Rounding out the extras in a reversible cover art and a twenty-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled The Smudge written by Chuck Stevens and information about the transfer. Also, included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo. Overall Pulse gets a strong release from Arrow Video.