on March 24, 2007
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!!
In the making of: Versus
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)
on August 12, 2010
Without going back and cleaning up the original negative, this is probably as good as Versus is ever going to look. I toggled between the original DVD release and the blu-ray, and there is a significant upgrade in crispness and detail, as well as a nice layer of grain during close shots and darker scenes. No visible DNR that I can detect. The image is progressive and not interlaced.
The audio is great as well, with added depth over the original DTS 5.1, and even the 6.1 mixes. Master audio makes a hell of a lot of difference.
As for the extras, it settles somewhere between the original director's cut release and the Ultimate Set in terms of quantity.
True fans of the film need to own the Versus Ultimate Edition and this blu-ray release. I prefer the original that's featured on the DVD, but the Ultimate Edition has more extras.
Definitely worth your money, if you are a fan of the film.
on June 19, 2003
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.
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.
on June 14, 2003
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!
on June 20, 2004
I wanna open by saying that I was torn regarding the star rating. I'd say this is a 5 star action movie, but only a 4 star movie overall. And since it's Kcin's policy to give just about everything 5 stars, I went with the 5 star rating.
I first heard about this movie some time ago, and I can't help but wonder why I didn't see it sooner. The plot synopsis alone seemed a virtual guarantee that it would be entertaining, whether or not it was good or bad. It turned out remarkably well considering it had absolutely no budget. Thus, production values suffer, and the acting is frequently a bit amateurish. (but still generally fairly appealing) But if you are even looking at this film you probably aren't the sort who can't live with the natural concessions that come with a low-budget films, and this probably won't bother you too much.
The Evil Dead is the film that seems to come up the most when discussing this movie. This is a bit confusing and deceptive, as although I would be absolutely shocked if the makers of this film weren't highly familiar with Raimi's ouevre, it's primarily just a modern action-martial arts film. Which naturally leads to the question, is the action any good? Personally, I thought it was thoroughly entertaining, from beginning to end. It's got a great volume of action, and mixes up the styles, starting with gun violence and zombies moving to hand to hand fighting concluding with sword fighting. They do it all well, though I like the hand to hand fighting best.(The sword fight at the end is quite sweet as well, though it's hurt a bit by the use of wacky future swords.) Also, although they use some interesting visual and editing styles in the film, they don't over do it on the action scenes and actually let us see what's going on. The action here probably isn't all that different from what you've seen in a lots of the movies, though you probably haven't seen all this type of action in a single movie before, which is worth something. It's got lots of frequently silly and exaggerated gore as well, which makes the already odd film all the more surreal. This once again reveals the low budget, but it seems as if they wouldn't have wanted more realistic gore anyway, even if they could afford it, so it works out alright. The zombies are perhaps a bit primitive, but I really like 'em, particuarly the samurai zombies from the opening scene. Too bad they didn't bring the regular zombies back later in the film, but oh well.
Critic's of this film frequently say something like, 'I don't know how anyone could take this movie seriously'. Well, I gotta tell you, I don't think you're really supposed to take this all that seriously. It's not self-parody, but it's got a ton of conventional humor, along with some gore-related humor.(which is always a dead give away that a film isn't all that serious) Surprisingly, most of the humor comes off well. The stuff with 2 police officers is generally pretty good, albeit not all that varied. Panicky Guy and Crazy Yakuza guy are both fairly entertaining as well, though I can't tell how seriously we are supposed to take the latter. He's still amusingly overdone, whether it's intentional or not. The protagonist is merely okay. He doesn't have much personality, but I don't really care. The main villain is better. He doesn't have much personality either, but he's real cool, to put it vaguely.
Even the non-action scenes are passably interesting. They never go on for too long with out having any fighting, so they at least don't get in the way. There's no dialogue I'm gonna be quoting or reflecting on anytime soon, but it moves the plot along anyway, and, as I said before, never really bored me. The only time they falter seriously is in the scene where they introduce the Yakuza guys. It's trying too hard to be cool and they can't pull it off, so it just comes off pretty cheesy. This tendency to overdo it comes up every once in a while, adding packets of cheese infrequently throughout the film, but as I said before, it's not all that serious anyway, so it doesn't disrupt the mood too much.
Well, this review is pretty crappy so I better wrap it up. In summary, it's got a low budget, lots of cool violence, zombies and martial arts, is pretty funny at times and really never gets boring, although it isn't much for character development or plot and is occasionally a bit cheesy. What can I say, I liked it. A lot.
on July 31, 2005
"Versus" is cheap. It's low-budget. It's trashy. It's funky. It's mind-blastingly stupid in places.
And you know something? "Versus" is gigantic trailer-loads of bloody, gory, brutal, uber-stylish and often beautifully filmed good times.
Japanese Zombies? Check!
Splatter, gore, intestines, brains, severed heads, arms, legs, and virtually anything else that can be dismembered and used as a club, truncheon, weapon, or engine of destruction? Check!
Cool leather trenchcoats? Check. Katanas and wakizashis and a fully locked-loaded-and-primed paramilitary arsenal that would make the 5th Armored Division blush? Check, check, check!
"Verus" is Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura's red-in-tooth-and-claw salute to flesh-eating zombie flicks like the immortal Peter Jackson's "Dead/Alive"---and what a salute!
"Versus" is just hardcore when it comes to hip: the too-cool-for-school Yakuza in their stylish shades, their tight-fitting leather trenchcoats, sleeveless leather battle dress, hip guns, hip nihilistic attitudes, hip giggles of bloodthirsty insouciance. It's all hip in "Versus", even when hip is slathered in blood and brains and gore. The Yakuza are bright plumed birds, so garish, so insultingly stylish, that you know they're marked for bloody death.
Not to worry. Death's no Game-Over in the Forest of the Resurrection.
Let's boil this thing down: you watch "Versus"---no, wait, you BUY the unrated 2-DVD disc "Versus" for two reasons: 1) Gorgeously shot (on a shoestring budget) High Style and 2) Yakuza on Yakuza action!
Plot? We don't need no steenkin' plot! But since you asked: Mysterious Prisoner KSC2-303 (played right down to the wire and the Miso-soup T by Tak Sakaguchi, who swings that katana like a champ and wears that leather trenchcoat with an aplomb that would have made Marlon Brando proud) escapes from a maximum security prison into the mysterious, fog-shrouded Forest of the Resurrection with a prison buddy. A prison buddy, ummm, handcuffed to a severed hand.
What's the Forest of the Resurrection? It's a dark, spooky forest. It's a dark spooky forest where the local Yakuza gang buries its victims (with their guns, mind you). It might possibly be an ancient aperture to Hell, one of 666 that exist in our innocent world.
A mob pickup turns sour, chiefly because Prisoner KSC2-303 decides he's a "feminist" (I'm not making this up---he says it) and tries to save the damsel in distress. And really, that's what "Versus" is all about. Sakaguchi, girl in tow, runs into the Forest. Yakuza follow. The battling prisoners and mobsters discover that the brutalized dead have a habit of coming back.
Zombies claw their way up from the grave, strapped up with their best-loved gats. Blood flows like meth at a rave.
The truth is, "Versus" was shot for maybe 5 bucks (that's 500 Yen!). And the corollary truth is, "Versus" looks like it was shot for a lot more: it has style in spades, rolling spinning camera sequences that would make most professional Hollywood studio directors blush with shame, and---this is the most important thing of all---it's flesh-ripping good fun!
Be warned, though: this isn't a horror movie. It's not remotely scary. But frankly, it's cool. It's engaging. At moments, it's nearly brilliant. And the tracking shots---my God, the tracking shots are intense. The timing is perfect. This is all about honor, all about vengeance, all about the Death Wish stated, announced, consecrated and celebrated between the once-and-future hero (and long dead Samurai warrior) played by Sakaguchi, and his immortal villainous and way-chic sorcerer nemesis (played to the uber-wicked hilt by Hideo Sakaki).
"Versus" is epic and hysterical. The movie is beautifully shot. The martial arts-work is tight and well done and very slick. The zombie do their thing and can even shoot---poorly. Blood flows. Fools get torn in half. Slaughter abounds. The Forest of the Resurrection is a Mecca for wanton carnage.
This isn't a cheap flick: far from it, and I'm sorry if I have implied it is. It has depth. It has ambition. For its miniscule budget, it is insanely technical in its shots and sweep.
He who becomes a monster gets rid of the pain of being a Man.
Who knew macho posturing and dumb tough guy dialogue could be so much damn fun?! Versus is a movie that I had been hearing about for what seems like forever. The gore, the violence, the overall coolness... you know what? Everybody was right about this too, I SHOULD have seen it a long time ago! There's over 125 reviews on here so it probably isn't real necessary to go into the plot much (or even write the review at all, but...), although I will say that Versus is the type of flick that's plot could be categorized as either deep and hard to comprehend OR flat out non-existent... you decide! You see though, the beauty of a movie like this is that the plot just doesn't really matter much because ultimately it's used for the sole purpose of shifting the movie from one bad_ss action set piece to another, in all of their sword swinging, gun wielding, heart eating, zombie slaying, eyeball losing, awesomeness! You might not always know exactly what's going on, but you'll be so glued to the action and mayhem on the screen that you won't care much either. Tons of quirky and memorable characters, crazy stylish camera work and direction, and Tak Sakaguchi as the pinnacle of cool in the leading role all add up to one of the most entertaining cinematic spectacles I've ever seen (and I've seen some spectacles in my day). Obviously this won't work for everybody... I mean, if 2 hours of near straight action (including gun-toting zombies!)only occasionally broken up by riveting dialogue like characters telling each other to "shut the hell up" while a camera spins around 360 degrees over and over again sounds repetitive, then yeah, you may want to steer clear (although that is an exaggeration... only mildly though!). Versus is truly an experience to behold as a low-budget and genre-blending instant cult masterpiece, that even if you don't like (but really, what's not to like?)... I guarantee you won't forget!
on July 24, 2008
whoa, what a fun movie, for fans of Takashi Miike's stuff, or over the top Asian cinema in general should check this one out. essentially it follows an escaped convict trying to initially cut a deal with the mob to aid his escape, but when things go wrong and people start getting shot, things get weird. the first dead body stands back up, only to be filled with about 50 bullets before falling back to the ground.
the chaos begins when our main character, a feminist, was introduced to the female hostage. after multiple warnings the gangsters wouldnt release her. after all hell breaks loose, the chase through the forest begins, and gradually our hero and the girl begin to regain their memory, and their place in a much bigger picture.
acting wasnt horrible, although pretty over the top. camera work was decent. the gore effects were awsome for the most part. the story was interesting but could've been explained much better. basically, if you want a non stop blood bath of carnage with too many guns, samurai swords, and body parts to count, then check out this movie immediately!
on December 22, 2014
I bought this movie on a whim and fell in love with it. Great movie. The story is generic but still entertaining. The action sequences are awesome, and their is an amazing fight at the end of the movie.
The performances are all over the top, but it fits into the movie. The characters are all quirky and just weird. Their are also moments off oddly placed humor, but again, it works.
The special effects are noticeably low budget, at one point you can see a tube squirting fake blood under a characters sleeve.
I recommend this to anyone who likes over the top action movies, or supernatural stories.