"There are 666
portals that connect this world to the other side.
These are concealed from all human beings. Somewhere
in Japan exists the 444th portal.... The forest of
with a samurai in Feudal Japan fending off a group
of zombies. After defeating them, he finds himself
in the middle of something bigger between their powerful
human leader and a mysterious stranger. The kinetic
energy of the opening duel provided by the constant
swirling camera and fast editing sets the tone for
the entire film.
Flash forward to the
same location, present day. Two escaped prisoners
are on their way to meet with their unknown Yakuza
benefactors. Prisoner KSC2-303, who is the only character
given anything close to a name, is leery of the five
gangsters they end up meeting. Why would they help
total strangers break out of jail? At this point even
the gangsters don't know. They're just following orders.
Things heat up when
the most flamboyant (and psychotic) of the Yakuza
dislikes KSC2's attitude. As tensions rise, we discover
that the Yakuza are holding a young lady hostage,
and there is an instant connection between she and
Prisoner KSC2. Violence erupts, several people end
up dead (or in this case undead) and KSC2 and the
woman end up fleeing together deeper into the forest
looks like a John Woo film on speed, and features
attractive actors and actresses being treated to more
glamour shots than you can point two pistols at. There
are several wonderfully choreographed fight scenes,
plenty of posing, outrageous gore and a lots of gunfights
vs. zombies. One of the battles even has the zombies
themselves firing the weapons! The effective techno
soundtrack is reminiscent of Run Lola Run,
with a classical Japanese influence added to the the
scenes that take place in the past.
does have its slow moments. And, it teases us not
once, but three times with the promise of a spectacular
swordplay showdown between the two antagonists. However,
each time the action is taken in another direction.
Then, when the battle does finally come to fruition,
the director utilizes handheld camera work and tightly
composed shots, which effectively obscures much of
the action and even exposes some of the wire work.
The story does take
an interesting turn when the gangsters' boss reveals
himself to be the superhuman leader of the undead
from the opening of the film, who was bent on opening
the 444th portal. KSC2 turns out to be his good-hearted
brother and the kidnapped woman is KSC2's reincarnated
lover whose blood holds the power to open the portal.
Now it's all coming together…and then the film loses
steam in the last act.
There's also a superfluous
"surprise ending" which feels very tacked
on. The director would have done better to end the
film sooner. As it stands, Versus is still
a very good movie. It loses its way towards the end,
but is overall one of the best action comedy gore
films produced in a very long time. It stands proudly
in the ring with The Evil Dead trilogy, Dead
Alive and George Romero's Dead trilogy
as a classic of the genre. (Magicvoice 2002)