Versus (2000) a title entirely befitting for a movie about a guy fighting literally everything.
He’s fighting people, he’s fighting with zombies, and he’s fighting some sort of man who cannot die, a man who is linked to this guy’s past and surely his future.
How ‘ominous’, a word which was used quite frequently in the English subtitles of this Japanese cult classic, which was originally meant to be the sequel to the short film Down To Hell by director Ryuhei Kitamura.
So What’s It About?
Well, Versus actually has a fairly simple plot line that is pretty easy to follow, considering it was shot over the span of two years.
The movie is about Prisoner KSC2-303 (Tak Sakaguchi), who has escaped from prison only to find himself in the Forest of Resurrection.
That forest happens to be the 444th portal to the ‘other side’ also known as hell. Unfortunately, he and the Yakuza gangsters (Kenji Matsuda, Yuichiro Arai, and Minoru Matsumoto), who were sent to pick him up by a mysterious boss (Hideo Sakaki), do not know this. When the Yakuza reveal they have kidnapped an innocent girl (Chieko Misaka), Prisoner KSC2-303 decides he’s had enough and the fight is on.
Prisoner KSC2-303 shoots dead a Yakuza thug, played by an actor that director Kitamura hated so much he had the guy killed off in the first scene, only to discover that anyone dead will rise again as a monster.
This leads to, as anyone would guess, Prisoner KSC2-303, the Girl, and the Yakuza thugs running around the forest fighting each other and some vengeful zombies. Oh, did I mention that the Yakuza thugs happened to take people to the forest to off them? What a great idea! Let’s bury all of those people we killed in a creepy, spooky forest that brings the dead back to life. Yeah, those dead people want revenge. It gets better though!
Wait, how could this movie possibly get better? For one, there is an entire scene where Sakaguchi is fighting off zombies with two guns in hand and one in his mouth. The script originally calling for him cock the gun with his teeth, but that all went down the drain when he broke a tooth trying to do it. The real way this movie gets better though, is that a sadistic superhuman un-killable man who wants to open the portal to hell, hired the Yakuza to kidnap Prisoner KSC2-303 and The Girl because somehow (I’m not telling you how) their pasts are all related.
How Was It Received?
Versus has actually received a lot of positive feedback for its role in the film industry.
It brings to the table a very interesting combination of action, gore, and horror comedy, along with Kitamura’s favourite film genres of chanbara sword fighting, martial arts, gunfights, and zombie horror.
Kitamura threw all of these genres together in the thought that Versus would be the first and the last film Kitamura would ever make. He went all in and with fascinating results.
Rolling Stone magazine even praised it for being “A Japanese zombies-vs.-gangsters action-horror comedy that plays like Quentin Tarantino remaking THE EVIL DEAD while on a speed binge.” Not bad for a film that had an estimated budget of only $400,000.
What is really great about the film Versus, is that it made Kitamura into one of the most famous Japanese directors and led to him directing other films like The Midnight Meat Train (2008), which is also finding its way into the world of cult classics.
Versus is a great choice if you’re feeling the need for some great action, gore, and zombies who can shoot guns.
|Buy the film at Amazon.com|
|Buy the film at Amazon.co.uk|
Written by: Kelsey B