Versus Review

Movie: Versus
By: Maniac E
Date: September 28, 2011

A thrill ride you won’t forget for a long time

For years I am showing friends of mine this movie. Finally it’s time for me to review this movie. I wanted to write about this movie for a long time. This movie next to ‘Ichi the Killler’ made me really get into Asian movies. Versus has a special place in my heart I can’t deny that. Versus director Ryuhei Kitamura has out done himself, dubbing the camera work in his zombie-gangster-gorefest "Non-Stop Freefall Ultra-Violence Action Entertainment!". Outlandish as that may be, it's a surprisingly accurate depiction of the events in Versus.


Versus begins 500 years in the past with a samurai slicing and dicing his way through a mob of zombies. He turns to see an odd character standing in his way, seemingly having appeared out of thin air. This is the audience’s first introduction to “the man” (Hideo Sakaki), our obligatory supremely powerful, yet calmly sadistic villain for the duration of the film. (By the way, none of the characters in Versus have names – they simply don’t need them.) Now back to the present day: Taking place entirely within the Forest of Resurrection (talk about foreshadowing!), the film begins with a pair of prisoners fleeing their pursuers. Arriving at the pickup point to find some yakuza thugs, things escalate when one of the prisoners (badass Tak Sakaguchi) demands the release of a goofily-dressed girl they're holding captive. Shots ring out, and the lead gangster becomes the film's first casualty. Or does he? This is the Forest of Resurrection after all, and the newly dead thug is magically reanimated... only to become the film's second casualty moments later.


The result of this setup is a huge mishmash of gun-fu, martial arts, zombies (with guns!), gratuitous gore, several dozen completely unnecessary (yet cool) poses, a generous dose of splat stick humor, and a storyline that really doesn’t matter much at all in the grand scheme of things. This all culminates with an epic sword battle between Prisoner KSC2-303 and the mysterious villain from the opening sequence and in my opinion that fight alone is worth the price of admission. This movie definitely isn’t for everyone but hopefully by now you know if it’s for you (did I mention the zombies have guns?).


The action scenes are on the same level as Hong Kong's best - they're not even nearly as good as some of the scenes in movies like magnificent warriors in fact, but they're imaginatively and enthusiastically staged and filmed. And violent! Oh so very very violent! The special effects are some of the most convincingly brutal I've seen. Battle Royale may have had more realistic violence, but nothing like the sheer magnitude of the bodily damage people take in VERSUS! People get cut in half, lose limbs, have gaping holes blown through them... well, you know how much it takes to stop a zombie moving . It's all played fairly non-seriously, but not to the cartoonish extent of Ichi. It looks pretty damn good and real.


Is Versus the best cross between horror and comedy. No, Versus is best as one thing and one thing alone- pure, hilarious adrenaline. Although Kitamura's work ratchets the tension, it's never a tension that mounts steadily; his characters are too lackadaisical in the midst of zombies circling around them to load their weapons to really earn that tension. It's when the shit goes down and suddenly attitude gets put to the test with equaled skills as fighters and shooters. It all adds up to being a great guilty pleasure movie for you and your friends.







Ryuhei Kitamura






Tak Sakaguchi, Hideo Sakaki, Chieko Misaka