2000 · Wevco Produce Company/Napalm Films
Versus — Movie Review by Karthik
7 out of 10
Directing Credits
Ryuhei Kitamura
Writing Credits
Written by Ryuhei Kitamura and Yudai Yamaguchi
Tak Sakaguchi, Hideo Sakaki, Chieko Misaka, Kenji Matsuda

The Review

The movie's opening narration tells us that there are 666 portals to "the other side", and that somewhere in Japan — to be precise, the "Forest of Resurrection" — is where the 444th portal lies.  This forest is where most of the movie takes place.  Prisoner KSC2-303 (Tak Sakaguchi) is the Hero, and he arrives on the scene with a bunch of gangsters waiting for him.  They are under orders not to kill him and The Girl (Chieko Misaka), because all of them have assembled for a purpose.

Soon, a mysterious stranger (Hideo Sakaki) shows up.  He is the villain of the story.  As we gradually come to know, the Hero and the Villain had fought in the forest many years ago, and have unsettled business.  In their present reincarnated forms, that is what they hope to settle — the villain wants to harness a power that will allow him to open the portal to the other side, and he needs the hero and the girl to do it.  What follows is a series of over-the-top, hyperkinetic, stylised fight sequences!

Versus is not about story or plot.  As the title indicates, this is "versus" literally — essentially a two hour long fight sequence, only interrupted to give us bits of plot in flashback form.  The plot is not that coherently presented also... maybe it is a stylistic decision, or due to the fact that I watched this movie in a dubbed form (German, I think) and with subtitles that didn't sync up properly to the movie!  Anyway, I was able to get an overall understanding of what was going on, and I also read about the movie later on to fill in the blanks.

The fight sequences are what distinguish this movie.  Swordfights, hand-to-hand martial arts combat, gunplay, it's all there.  As the setting is the "Forest of Resurrection" you have characters dying and then coming back as zombies!  Here, the zombies are not brain-dead, they can actually use firearms.  It all adds up to give us some very energetic, bloody and gory battles!  Director Ryuhei Kitamura cranks up the style high, with the characters primarily being dressed in black and striking poses very often.  There are lots of very funny bits as well, and the music is also good (it's a techno-type score).  If you can get your hands on this movie, it is definitely worth watching!

Other Notes

There are multiple versions of this movie with different running times.  The version I watched was a 115 minute version.  Apparently, the "uncut" version runs 119 minutes, and there also exists a 130 minute version, called The Ultimate Versus.

The movie is basically a follow-up to director Kitamura's 45 minute short film, Down to Hell.

More Details

Running Time: 119 minutes | Country: Japan | Genre: Action/Horror/Fantasy

Ratings Info

I rate all movies or game add-ons on a scale of 1 to 10 points.  1 is the lowest score, 6 is barely above average, 8 is good, and 10 is excellent (this score doesn't indicate something that is perfect in every way — it just means that I enjoyed it a lot).  You'll find that I tend to give ratings of 8 and above often (that's only because I enjoy whatever I'm reviewing!).  Reviews are updated as felt necessary.  Of course, everything said in these reviews is my humble opinion only.
Review Date 18 Nov 06
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The Author

Karthik Abhiram

27-year old Taurean (birthday 15-May-82), Assistant Manager - HR at Tata Consultancy Services Ltd in Hyderabad, India.  Previously, did Post Graduate Diploma in Management from T A Pai Management Institute (2003-05) and before that, Computer Science Engineering from Sree Nidhi Institute of Science and Technology (1999-2003).

Email: karthik82 -AT- gmail -DOT- com
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