The Ring, with Naomi Watts, is an American remake (herein noted as (A) for the sake of clarity) of the Japanese film Ringu (noted as (J)). In both movies, a female journalist (Watts in the American version, Nanako Matsushima in the Japanese) is investigating a series of mysterious and horrifying deaths of teenagers. These deaths seem to be linked to an urban legend of a videotape that, if you watch it, you die in exactly seven days. After tracking down and watching the tape, the journalist now finds herself in a race against time to try to find a way to reverse the curse before she becomes its next victim.
Watched on its own, The Ring (A) is a great film. When you start to compare it to the original, however, it becomes clear that the transfer to this side of the Pacific has resulted in some otherwise extraneous plot points. For example, offshore island communities are rare in the United States, but are a normal part of the history and society of Japan. In The Ring (A), there is a sequence of digging through obscure connections that ultimately lead to a small, offshore, community. Then the intrepid reporter actually has to drive way up the coast to get there. In Ringu (J), when clues point to Izu Oshima island– the reporter simply goes to Izu Oshima Island.
The biggest problem, though, is that beyond the Japanese to American conversion, The Ring (A) is largely a scene by scene remake of Ringu (J). Their plots are very similar. If you are a student of film history and/or methodology, watching the films together makes an interesting comparison. If you are a critic, who has to watch both to make a proper review, obviously you must do so. To those who only need to see one or the other, just watch the original. Yes, this means reading subtitles, it is a foreign film after all. To those who refuse to deal with subtitles at all – grow up. If you really want to see both, rent or borrow them from your local library. Decide which, if any, version you want to own after you see both.
The following libraries in the Columbus area show DVD copies of The Ring in their catalogues: Bexley Public Library, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Grandview Heights Public Library, Southwest Public Libraries, Worthington Public Library, and Westerville Public Library. Most local Blockbusters carry this title (here for more info.)