In my opinion, Ryung was released 5 years too late. What I mean by that is if this film came to light during the flight of the Ring, it would have been regarded as one of the better Asian films to come our way. Unfortunately, it was released in 2004, and what can I say, Ryung is nothing that we haven't seen before. Dead girl dressed in white with the menacing stare and long black hair.....
Ji-Won is a student in college who suffers from a serious bout of amnesia, which leads her to make the decision of moving to the States to start a new life. Her best male friend at the time and grieving mother greatly oppose her relocation, but since Ji-Won cannot recall her past she feels that she has no emotional ties to the life she leads now. However, Ji-Won begins to suffer faint flashbacks involving one of her earlier childhood friends, and when her former inner circle of girlfriends begin to die one by one, she fears that she is somehow involved in a dark past.
Doing all she can to track down the remaining living friends from her circle, Ji-Won begins to uncover pieces of her past, as well as unwelcome knowledge of her former harsh personality. Little by little, Ji-Won's memory comes back through her own dreams and the recollections of others. Ji-Won discovers that she was in fact part of a horrific experience that claimed the life of one of her dearest friends, and that her actions in the past may be jeopardizing her life in the present. However, there is a twist to the story! But I can't tell you that because it'll just ruin the movie!
Not to say that Ryung isn't a good film, it's just a re-tread of past successful Asian Kaidan flicks where a ghost takes form to claim revenge on those that harmed them. Very stylishly filmed and full of tense moments, Ryung will keep the viewer's interest for the long haul, but unfortunately falls on its face during the final moments. I can't recall how many times I've written reviews about similar films where the ending is just too flat to ignore and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. As much as I want to praise director Kim Tae-Gyeong for a job well done, I want to kick him in the mouth for including such an awful close to the story.
Now for a little positive reflection..... The Korean R3 Special Edition of Ryung comes beatifully packaged in a reflective and artsy slipcover, which is welcome to any collection. Boasting a second disc loaded with special features such as Audio Commentaries, TV Spots, Music Videos and more, the Ryung SE edition was well received, even though the commentary is in Korean. We all know how much I love Asian music videos, too!
Overall, Ryung as a movie wasn't bad considering it falls in the "been there, done that" category. A very well made film with a linear and involving storyline, fans of the genre won't be disappointed with the purchase. In this case, I would recommend opting to buy the Special Edition becuase if anything, the packaging is very attractive and will sit nicely amongst your ugly copies of the original Ringu series..... and you get some Korean music videos, too!