Jul 072017

Pulse (aka Kairo) is one of the best J-Horror films I’ve seen perhaps only behind Ringu, with its unsettling atmosphere and absolutely creepy-as-all-hell, not to mention disturbing, scenes. It’s also a thought-provoking film which, albeit dated with its technology, still applies today.





Genre(s): Horror, Supernatural
Arrow Video | NR – 119 min. – $39.95 | July 11, 2017

Date Published: 07/07/2017 | Author: The Movieman


Directed by: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Writer(s): Kiyoshi Kurosawa (written by)
Cast: Haruhiko Kato, Kumiko Aso, Koyuki, Kurcume Arisaka, Masatoshi Matsuo
Features: Interviews, Promotional Material
Digital Copy: No
Formats Included: Blu-ray, DVD
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: Japanese (PCM 2.0)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH
Disc Size: 45.7 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A


THE MOVIE — 3.75/5

Portions of this was copied from my original 2006 review:

“Death was eternal loneliness.”

When I first watched Kurosawa’s Pulse (or Kairo), I was scared, moved and confused all at the same time. On the one hand, I get the message of human connections and the role the Internet plays in tearing us apart… and pushing into loneliness. If you’re like me — someone who doesn’t see too many Asian flicks –, you’ll no doubt be lost as I was at times. However, in the end, I did “get” enough to find the film to be disturbing and sad.

Kurosawa’s Pulse is an interesting and low-key horror-thriller which also contains a certain sadness beneath it which, although doesn’t completely pull the viewer in, is still compelling to a certain degree.

I have to admit that as a reviewer who is still new to the Japanese-horror genre, I didn’t really follow the plot (I also no doubt missed several cultural references such as the color red), but I will try to give a broad description: several twenty-somethings whose lives are changed after a friend commits suicide and strange things happen when ghosts supposedly haunt them from the internet. This, as some surmise and I agree, is the director’s views of the World Wide Web where even though we “talk” on the Web, the more we do so, the more we lose human contact. In any case, as the movie goes on, more and more people begin to “vanish” and we’re left with one of the more haunting tales I have witnessed.

Since the film is subtitled and is spoken in a language I can’t understand, it is a bit futile to judge the acting skills. I can say, however, it seemed the primary players (played by Kato, Aso and even Arisaka) provided good emotion to their parts. The direction by Kiyoshi Kurosawa is tense at times, but not very scary in the least. Also, I found the picture as a whole to be too dark, not in terms of subject, but literally. 2017 UPDATE: Though watching it on Blu-ray, those scenes that were too dark seemed to be rectified…

Outside of some of the more technical aspects and language barriers, I still found Pulse to be a nice human story and a warning about the Internet and how more and more use it as their basis of communication. Pulse was actually released elsewhere around the world in 2001 so it is a few years old, but the message holds even more true today.

Overall, it is difficult for me to tell you whether or not you’ll like it. As a novice for Japanese-horror, I enjoyed it despite its depressing nature. The story itself kept me at least semi-captivated and the apocalyptic mannerism seems relevant. On a side note I noticed that, sadly, as with The Grudge and The Ring/Two, there is an Americanized version headed for theaters in ’06… which, based on the casting, I doubt it will reach any kind of emotional level or send a message and instead will be a PG-13 horror flick with the emptiness or loneliness those characters in this one felt.



This release comes with a 20-page booklet.


  • Kiyoshi Kurosawa: Broken Circuits (43:53; HD) is an extensive new interview with the writer/director and discusses his work in the horror genre.
  • Junichiro Hayashi: Creepy Images (25:03; HD) – In this new interview, the DP speaks about his work with Kurosawa.
  • The Horror of Isolation (17:11; HD) – Director Adam Wingard and Writer Simon Barrett (Blair Witch) talk about their admiration for the works of Kurosawa, and how Pulse inspired them as filmmakers.

Archival Making-of Featurette (41:03; SD) is from 2001 (or so) and provides some behind-the-scenes footage and on-location interviews with members of the cast and crew.

Tokyo Premiere Introduction (7:04; SD) – Kurosawa and members of the cast introduce a preview screening of the film, held in Tokyo back in 2001.

Cannes Film Festival (2:57; SD) – Kurosawa and actor Haruhiko Kato introduce the Cannes Film Festival premiere in 2001.

Special Effects Breakdown:

  • The Suicide Jump (6:22; SD)
  • Harue’s Death Scene (5:02; SD)
  • Junko’s Death Scene (4:31; SD)
  • Dark Room Scenes (10:18; SD)

Also included are some TV Spots (4:15; SD) and NHK Station IDs (0:15; SD).


VIDEO – 3.75/5

Pulse marks its debut on Blu-ray through Arrow Video and is presented with a 1.78 widescreen aspect ratio (the back cover incorrectly states it as 1.85) and given a 1080p high-definition transfer. This is a mixed looking video as colors are very muted but, and this is just my recollection, matches up with how Kurosawa and his DP shot it. There is heavy amount of grain, perhaps the camera used, but detail is sharp and black levels are quite stark but never displaying any signs of artifacting. On the downside, I did notice some minor bouts of scratches and dust specs but it’s highly doubtful this would ever looked better.

AUDIO – 4.0/5

The disc comes with a 2.0 PCM Japanese language track. It’s actually half-decent providing for clear dialogue levels but where it comes to life is with the uber-creepy soundtrack including the ghostly voices overlaid. There’s also a fair amount of depth even for a dual channel lossless track even on a quieter track.


OVERALL – 3.75/5

Overall, Pulse (aka Kairo) is one of the best J-Horror films I’ve seen perhaps only behind Ringu, with its unsettling atmosphere and absolutely creepy-as-all-hell, not to mention disturbing, scenes. It’s also a thought-provoking film which, albeit dated with its technology, still applies today. The Blu-ray released by Arrow Video offers up above average video/audio transfers and a fine selection of special features.





Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.

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