Versus
Starring:
Tak Sakaguchi, Hideo Sakaki, Chieko Misaka, Minoru Matsumoto, Kenji Matsuda, Yuichiro Arai
Directed By:
Ryuhei Kitamura
Grade
D-

When one watches a film like Versus, they have to wonder how such a movie not only got made, but also was released and then distributed in DVD format. Versus features mountains of brainless script, gallons of gore and direction that even a film school student would be ashamed to call their own. Opening with a man being cut in half, lengthwise, the story starts with an obvious flash back to some time in ancient Japanese history. After killing a bunch of zombie warriors, a samurai is slain while trying to attack his opponent. Flash forward to the present - two escaped criminals, including Prisoner KSC2-303, come across a meeting point where they are to meet a group of gangsters. After some conversation and posturing, one of the gangsters is slain and then comes back to life.

Apparently, the meeting place is within the Forest of Resurrection, a mystical place where the dead come back to life. And since the gangsters have been using the area as a dumping ground for their killings, the forest is glut with zombies in dire need of being re-killed. As the script fails to explain, these zombies can be put back to rest by killing them even more brutally (or so we guess by the ridiculous killing spree that ensues). And just when you think the plot is running out of fodder, new characters are introduced and the main villain shows up.

Versus features the worst kind of script - one that takes forever to get to the action, only to have it interrupted by even more moronic conversation. The opening present-day sequence is agonizingly long and filled with some horrible acting. If you can endure this, you'll get to some serious high octane action, which is only later interrupted by more "story". Since just about everyone in the film can't act, these story sequences are agonizingly bad. The acting is only made worse by a English dubbing that's completely painful to listen to. Was it so hard to localize this film with a least a minor degree of care or did the meager budget carry over to the voice-overs as well?

On the topic of small budget - take a good long look at the forest. Yep, that's the only set available in the film and I highly doubt they actually paid someone to use it. The money saved on the set, costumes and script was obviously thrown into the blood squibs as just about every action scene has someone covered in blood or with blood shooting off of them. A number of scenes are shot with the cameraman running around the action and there are whole sequences and many characters that could have just been left on the editing room floor, if only for the sake of making the disaster less painful to watch.

Versus exhibits the kind of excessive violence that's so over-the-top that it becomes comedic in delivery. It's like watching the whole of Ninja Scroll, Battle Royale and Evil Dead crammed into two hours worth of action, but with all the good parts taken out. What's truly sad is that there is a few good ideas hidden in the turd of a script that Versus covers up. With some time and someone able to get to the heart of the story, there could have been something far better than the budget would have allowed. If you're a fan of brainless action with tons of gore, though, Versus is an okay rental just to see what's going on. Just don't star too long or you might go blind.

- - Vane

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