Nicole B. from SUN PRAIRIE, WI Reviewed on 12/7/2007...
This movie is really strange. It's funny as all get-out, because things don't make sense. (And I don't know if they're actually supposed to.)
Dead people keep showing up, or can't be killed, and there's some sort of a love triangle going on... but you can never tell. I'd recommend reading the back of the box so you know what the heck is going on before you watch this film.
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A rollercoaster ride of blood and guts
Jeffrey Leach | Omaha, NE USA | 02/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Welcome to the Forest of Resurrection, located somewhere in Japan. A brooding, oppressive place far from the view of prying eyes, the forest serves as a hiding place for many unsavory characters. Certain members of a yakuza gang bury their victims here. Escapees from nearby prisons melt away in its deep recesses. Sometimes these two elements meet, the yakuza and prison escapees, and all heck breaks loose. Maybe bloodshed in the Forest of Resurrection is a necessary event, part of a timeless struggle between the forces of good and evil. Maybe the most recent encounter between these prisoners and criminals is the result of some predestination of primordial origin beyond all human understanding. Whatever blood soaked events take place in the Forest of Resurrection, we are relatively certain it has something to do with the fact that this place is one of the 666 gateways to the underworld. The movie never informs us where the other 665 doorways are or what shenanigans go on there. Perhaps it is just as well considering the troublesome happenings in the Forest of Resurrection."Versus" is a massively entertaining film from Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura, a lengthy mind bending gorefest about the timeless struggle between good and evil. Think "Evil Dead" with an Asian attitude slathered with generous helpings of martial arts as you watch two prisoners, one known as KSC2-303, escape from prison and meet up with a carload of posturing thugs dressed in black suits. A lengthy, talky scene takes place as the prisoners and the gangsters meet on a deserted road inside the Forest of Resurrection. The scene seems to run on for ages until you realize it serves as a way to establish some of the characters. We also meet an enigmatic young woman who seems to know more about the area than she is willing to let on at the moment. Things go south quickly between KSC2-303 and the yakuza thugs, resulting in a bloody gun battle and the horrific realization that the dead don't stay dead in this scary place. KSC2-303 flees into the forest with the woman with the remaining yakuza hot on their trail. What follows are lengthy scenes of absolute carnage as the two sides spar with each other for possession of the woman, and with the reanimated corpses of dozens of victims of the very same thugs now roaming through the forest. Further difficulties arise with the arrival of an immortal killer, a few scary looking assassins, a couple of cops in pursuit of the prisoners, and the realization that the woman carries something within her body that promises eternal life. "Versus" delivers rapid-fire gore and goofy humor all wrapped up tight in an engaging story line. Heads explode, limbs fly off, and blood sprays like a geyser throughout the movie as bullets and swords rend the flesh of both the living and the dead. The humor is often ridiculously hammy, sort of a deft mix between the ghoulish giggles of a Quentin Tarentino or Sam Raimi film married to numerous running sight gags. As for the engaging story line, well, imagine a place where the same people endlessly reappear to do battle through the ages, but with a huge twist at the end of the film that makes you question the entire structure of the preceding events. Moreover, "Versus" manages to achieve a rather stylish appearance despite its miniscule budget. Check out the flashback sequences where all of the characters appear decked out in colorful, elaborate samurai garb, and I think you will acknowledge that "Versus" does a good job realizing its plot. It isn't surprising at all to hear about this film earning a place in the cult classic pantheon.Yeah, the film runs a bit too long, and the plot doesn't make much sense for roughly the first half hour, but give it a chance and everything will fall into place. I recommend picking up the Director's Cut edition if for no other reason than you should always watch a movie in the form the director intended it to take. The DVD edition throws in a bunch of trailers for other Japanese films, a commentary track from the director, and a widescreen picture transfer. Good stuff, this "Versus," and definitely worth a watch for the discerning horror buff. Is it the best film the Asian market has to offer? No, but who cares? It is still entertaining as all get out, gory as all get out, and often ridiculous as all get out. So, get out and pick it up right off. Some people hate "Versus," and some people love it. Count me among the latter."
Why cant americans make films like this?
Klauke | NZ | 06/19/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Without giving too much away, this movie is a zombie/action movie at its best. Basically, a priest arranges to have his henchmen bring a man and a woman to a forest (through the course of the movie, you'll discover their special importance), because they are the crucial elements in his plan to become very powerful. The forest, however, is known as the "forest of resurrection", where many bodies have been buried in the past, and start coming back to life with the arrival of the priest.
This is Independant film making at its best. while filmed on an obviously low budget, you wouldn't know it, as it has better production values than most american films. in the tradition of great old style horror type movies, noone has a name.. not that it matters, as most of em' wont be sticking around long enough. the action is well choreographed, be warned, its pretty violent, but its in the same vein as braindead - the violence is so over the top, that not only is it a joy to watch, but really sells the fun side of the movie too. The humour is sometimes subtle, usually in the form of the characters facial expressions, and their actions, but if your paying attention (and have a good sense of humour) youll find the comedy aspect of this great film, very prominent. The soundtrack is constantly kickin - really upbeat, and helps drive the action sequences along. And one of the best things about the movie, is the unique characters. Each one is a joy to watch - a lot of thought went in to making them truely stand out. The only negative sides to this movie (if you could call them that) is the editing is sometimes pretty quick during the fight scenes (but its really nothing to worry about - it helps create a frantic atmosphere), and the movie is pretty long, due to some more "artistic" shots. To sum up, this is one of the best action/fantasy/comedy/horror movies ive seen in a long time, highly recommended."
VERSUS - Evil Dead meets Yakuza
Mr Wiltshire | United Kingdom | 06/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a classic! Like many cult classics such as Evil Dead, this movie was made with a low budget, and like many cult classics wins due to being just damn cool!A simple story, 2 just escaped prisoners arrange to meet some dodgy gang characters to make their getaway, at the edge of a large forest. Unknown to our cast the forest contains a portal to many other times, and is a bit dangerous. The meeting goes foul and the gang members chase the escapees into the forest. The gang has previously killed and buried many former victims in this forest, but to their misfortune the portal awakens them into an onslaught of Zombies.A magnificent blend of martial arts and gunplay, not forgetting the traditional Samurai swordplay, gives an altogether fast paced action blood fest. This film is not for the feint-hearted, but is great fun for the slasher fan!Having already achieved worldwide cult status, a US dvd release will only help in creating an even larger fan base.The acting is not excellent, the special effects are not the greatest, the plotline is thin, it has moments of cheese, it lacks Hollywood refinement and won't win an Oscar. For fans of this genre it will excite and bring a bit of fun onto your TV screen. I have only seen the uncut version, therefore I cannot comment on the R-rated version which will be released.If you are unsure, then this film is probably not for you. But don't take my word for it, search the web for other reviews of this Japanese Cult Classic and make up your own mind!"
More Mayhem, Sly humor in this ultimate version of the cult
Woopak | Where Dark Asian Knights Dwell | 03/24/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've waited for the official Region 1 release of this 3- disc Ultimate edition ever since I saw the Japanese region-2 release sans English subtitles. There are some wanna-be Ultimate editions made from Taiwan or Malaysia but they are not the Ultimate edition. I know the release date is listed as 3/27/2007, I got lucky and I bought mine a week earlier than this date.
VERSUS is a cult hit from the beginning. Ryuhei Kitamura's film has all the ingredients for stylish mayhem: Zombies, Guns & Gangsters, Samurai Swordplay, Slick humor, a cute chick, anime-like fantasy and mystery. The story revolves around prisoner escapee KSC2-303(Tak Sakaguchi, from Shinobi, Death Trance, Azumi) stuck in the "Forest of Resurrection" to seek safe haven. Unfortunately, the crime lord supposed to grant him this has his own motives and he finds himself against a mysterious supernatural opponent to whom he is linked. This flick is a stylish relentless, rampaging zombie action-noir-horror hybrid that Hollywood probably wishes it thought of it first.
The difference between the R1 Ultimate Edition and the previous R1 Special edition are(actually the slip sleeve specifies scene by scene): 1) More Blood and gore. 2) It looked like all the fight scenes have been extended. 3)added: a renewal scene- Dark hero encounters zombies(3 scenes)more extended. Back-flips mayhem galore! 4)Zombies holding katana swords in the beginning scene. 5)Ohba extended zombie encounter scene 6)extended action sequence, zombie encounter- 3 Assasins going to the forest meeting a lot of zombies instead of just meeeting up with Matsuda and Ohba. 7) Katayama extended fight scene with assasins. 8) New music/new dialogue on some scenes. Added scenes appear a lot sharper than the film itself. The film itself is remastered, although it still maintains that murky look. 9)Extra CGI and color correction And a lot more of added 11 minutes of action and mayhem!! Special/bonus features: Audio commentary In the making of: Versus Stills gallery First Contact: Down to Hell(original title) Nervous 1: 7 min, side story about the cop who gets agitated when called"officer" Nervous 2: side story(not a sequel) features what happens to the little guy with the 2 cops. They suffer from psychogenic amnesia. Trailers: DOWN TO HELL, DOWN TO HELL 2:THE RETURN(original title)among others.
This 3-DISC ULTIMATE Edition(130 min) is well worth the money, I'm trading in the old 2-disc special edition(119 min). With an added 11 minutes of more action, mayhem and gore, this is a must-have for all Versus fans!! It certainly improved the original unlike stupid "extended releases" of ELEKTRA, AVP and THE PUNISHER. The only gripe I have is I wish it was possible to have remastered the whole film in High-definition(which is why I only gave it 4 stars), but looking at the original film's budget limitations when it was made, Kitamura managed to put every penny he can into the film.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!(only for fans of the film, if you hated, the first version, this new dvd won't change your mind) "
Don't turn it off when you really want to...
D. Hunter | 07/09/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I basically bought this movie 'cause I thought the front cover was pretty cool (I even have a T-shirt with that logo on it). I read the reviews here, and figured I'd give it a shot.First thing "Versus" started up, I was already groaning. The film quality was retro "my neighbor's camcorder", the acting was REALLY bad and it wasn't really living up to anything special. The music was okay, but I have a history of liking some strange music... also, sometimes the music is loud enough to where it's kind of hard to hear what is being said clearly.About twenty minutes in (do try to last that long), the mood changes and it becomes more bearable, and then the story kind of comes together. It starts becoming interesting (which until then, I felt I had just wasted thirty bucks to see this movie). The main character emerges (first twenty minutes will leave you going "uhh... who am I suppose to be rooting for here?") and they begin to develop what personality he has. I really feel that this movie would have been better left in Japanese with subtitles. The voice-overs, where-as they match up okay were fairly annoying in general (the bad guy and the good guy were done pretty well, but everyone else sounds like the old Hong Kong flicks from the 70s with the whiny voices)What I had envisioned was kind of a dark-souled samurai fighting the undead... What it ended up being was more of good/evil battle with the zombies being more of an excuse to fire off a bunch of bullets and to explain later events. Also, don't hold your breath for the sword-fighting, it comes kind of late in the film.The ending was fairly thought provoking, and aside from the fact blood is applied with a fire-hose, and none of the zombies are really "zombie-ish" (they're live people with a lot of blood on 'em and it shows) Versus really wasn't that bad.I'd probably suggest renting it, if you can find it at your local video store. This film is more for your die-hard martial arts/horror B-movie fan..."