HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Gangsta
3 Nuts in Search of a Bolt
Magic Serpent, The
That's Not Me
There Goes the Bride
Billy the Kid versus Dracula
Liquid Sword
I, Tonya
Universal Soldier: Regeneration
Bad Match
Güeros
Anchor and Hope
One, The
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
Lucky
Still of the Night
Home Sweet Homicide
Mannaja - A Man Called Blade
Spitfire
Killers from Space
Castle of the Creeping Flesh
Ghost Stories
Wild Boys, The
Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai, The
Four Rode Out
Lethal Weapon 3
Kit Curran Radio Show, The
D.O.A.
End, The
Tully
   
 
Newest Articles
Time Trap: Last Year in Marienbad and La Jetée
Gaining Three Stone: Salvador, Natural Born Killers and Savages
Right Said Bernard: Cribbins on DVD
1969: The Year Westerns Couldn't Get Past
A Network Horror Double Bill: Assault and Death Line on Blu-ray
The Edie Levy: Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol and Ciao! Manhattan
The Ultimate Trip: The Original Psychedelic Movies
Players of Games: Willy Wonka, Tron and Ready Player One
What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round? The Ends of The Monkees
Flings and Arrows: Conquest vs Flesh + Blood
Orson Around: F for Fake and The Late Great Planet Earth
ITC What You Did There: Retro-Action on Blu-ray
And It Was the Dirtiest Harry We Have Seen in a Very Long Time: The Dirty Harry Series
Manor On Movies: The Astounding She Monster
Manor On Movies: Don't be a dolt. That's not a cult (movie)
   
 
  Versus Samurai/zombie insanityBuy this film here.
Year: 2000
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
Stars: Tak Sakaguchi, Yuichiro Arai, Hoshimi Asai, Toshiro Kamiaka
Genre: Horror, Action, Martial Arts, Trash
Rating:  8 (from 4 votes)
Review: Like the bastard offspring of Sam Raimi and Takeshi Kitano, Versus is the kind of crazed entertainment that only seems to be made in the Far East these days. It's a samurai/gangster/zombie bloodbath that looks and sounds like a computer game, and makes up for in visceral thrills what it lacks in subtlety or logic.

There are apparently 666 'portals' to the Other Side, and one of them can be found in the middle of a Japanese wood. It's here that two prison escapees rendezvous with the group of Yakuza that arranged their escape. Naturally, the meeting goes wrong and one of the liberated criminals is shot dead; when he gets up and starts attacking, his fellow ex-inmate — Johnny Depp lookalike Prisoner KSC2-303 (Tak Sakaguchi), does a runner deep into the forest with a girl that the gangsters were holding hostage. It seems that the portal has the power to resurrect the dead, and that the spilling of this girl's blood will summon amazing powers to whoever is with her at the time. Prisoner KSC2-303 doesn't know this yet — he also doesn't know that in a previous life he was a powerful samurai warrior, the girl was his lover, and that his nemesis from that ancient time is on his way back to settle an old score.

If that all sounds (a) confusing and (b) stupid, it is indeed. It's impossible to remember anyone's name, characters are forever appearing and disappearing, there are bewildering flashbacks and an idiotic tacked-on ending set 99 years in the future. But when Versus is good, it's very good indeed. Limbs are lost, eyeballs are gouged and heads are smashed with gory abandon, debuting director Ryuhei Kitamura capturing everything with intense, hyperactive camerawork. The martial arts, gun fights and swordplay are as good as anything in many a higher budget flick, while Tak Sakaguchi and Yuichiro Arai are terrific as the ancient enemies, hitting the right balance between laconic cool and dangerous intent.

Unfortunately, at 119 minutes, Versus is way too long — this sort of film should get in and out in under 90. Too much time is spent on pointless incidental characters, like the two bumbling cops on Prisoner KSC2-303's trail, whose only purpose is to be messily dispatched at some later point. And frankly I'd quite happily swap the sub-Highlander plot about reincarnated warriors for even more splattery zombie mayhem. But I guess you can't look too deeply for faults in a film like this; suffice it to say that those Raimi and Jackson fans who pine for the heady days before Peter Parker and Frodo Baggins should find Versus an unwholesome treat.
Reviewer: Daniel Auty

 

This review has been viewed 11230 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Ryuhei Kitamura  (1969 - )

Talented, prolific Japanese director heavily influenced by 80s horror and action movies, Kitamura makes films in a hyper-kinetic style that favours visceral excitement over tight plotting and character development. His samurai/zombie/yakuza debut Versus was a big festival hit, while subsequent films like Alive, Sky High and the period swashbuckler Azumi provide similar thrills. In 2004 directed the 28th film in the Godzilla series - Godzilla: Final Wars - then the neglected Clive Barker adaptation Midnight Meat Train, with Versus 2 long promised.

 
Review Comments (1)
Posted by:
Date:
6 Aug 2003
  Maybe a little brutal neh? Naturally you've acknowledged that Kitamura has been in favor of style over substance but I wouldn't deem it as "stupid". It's no more a brain dead title than any mainstream blockbuster that people flood in drones to see every summer. Considering its teeny budget of $400 000 I would say it's more of a testament to not needing millions on end to create an enjoyable action flick rather than a "bastard offspring". And Sakaguchi is the only character actually credited with a name in the movie that's why you have forgotten them, because they didn't have names to begin with! I will agree with most of your review but when you get up on the negative boy do you rub it in.
       


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Who's the best?
Steven Seagal
Pam Grier
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Stately Wayne Manor
Andrew Pragasam
  Patrick Keenan
Enoch Sneed
Ian Phillips
  Afra Khan
  Dan Malone
   

 

Last Updated: