Phone (aka Pon) DVD Review
Written by Peter West
DVD released by Tartan Video USA
Directed by Byeong-ki Ahn
2002, Region 1 (NTSC), 100 minutes, Rated R
DVD released on January 25th, 2005
Ji-won Ha as Ji-won
Yu-mi Kim as Ho-jeong
Woo-jae Choi as Chang-hoon
Ji-yeon Choi as Jin-hie
Seo-woo Eun as Yeong-ju
"The last call you'll ever get..."
After writing a news report on sex scandals, Ji-won has found herself the target of threatening phone calls and suspects she is being stalked. She prepares to go into hiding and gets herself a new phone number and takes the offer by her best friend's husband to use their second home. Upon moving into the quiet house she finds her laptop suddenly taken over by graphic images and she starts receiving bizarre phone calls.
By accident her friend's young daughter answer's Ji-won's phone and is thrown into a crazed fit by the call. The young girl increasingly begins exhibiting crazed behavior and develops unnatural dependence on her father. Investigating the history of the phone number, Ji-won finds that every previous owner of the number has died or is missing. Ji-won starts to see visions of how the previous holders died, as she hunts down the reason for the cursed number!
As I've said in previous reviews, I'm becoming a big fan of Asian horror. Phone doesn't damper my enthusiasm a bit! From the feel of the cinematography to the tension of the soundtrack, Phone is like watching a modern Hitchcock film. There's a complicated plot which you do need to give careful attention to catch what's developing. The camera shots from all angles is classic Hitch. This may be the best horror movie in the classic tradition that has come out in years!
I can't say enough about Tartan Video USA and what they are doing for the Asian horror genre. While on domestic releases we feel lucky if a studio includes a DTS track, Tartan is making it standard equipment! Combining the excellent presentation of the feature along with a myriad of interesting extras, Tartan is starting off as one of the premier players in the business.
Phone is not a gorefest, it's not loaded with CGI, it's a back to basics thriller. The "Danger Seeker" is always longing for new films to be done the old fashioned way, chills and thrills. Phone delivers on both!
Video and Audio:
Presented in a an anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen, the picture on Phone is absolutely spectacular. I suspect it was filmed in DV, however I could not confirm it either through the supplements or IMDB. If this is DV, which normally I am not a big fan of, it's the best I've see so far! Colors are pure, the image is sharp, you couldn't ask for a better transfer.
This DVD has it all. Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, as well as 2.0 and... a 5.1 DTS track! The sound on Phone is superb and Tartan so far is including DTS on all of their Asia Extreme releases so far. I just wish every domestic release was like this. The Lee Sang-Ho soundtrack compliments the movie well. This is as good as it gets for excitement with clarity!
Tartan again shines! They deliver the full package with Phone. A full length running commentary, behind the scene interviews, a making of featurette along with TV spots. All of the extras are subtitled in English and Spanish. It's not all fluff either, director Ahn Byong-ki gives a interesting elaboration on his career and how he made Phone.
Films that Peter West reviews are played on a Pioneer Elite DV-47Ai DVD player, viewed on a Mitsubishi WS-55413 HDTV and listened to on a THX certified Pioneer Elite VSX-55TXi A/V Receiver through a 7.1 setup of JBL Northridge E series Speakers.
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