Versus is a 2000 Japanese zombie movie co-written, produced, and directed by Ryuhei Kitamura. I haven’t watched any of his other movies but after watching this one I have no real inclination to start. If Ryuhei Kitamura has another zombie movie, though, I might get around to it eventually. Versus is a zombie movie but it is also a fantasy movie. I watched the subtitled version for this Versus review but you can watch a dubbed version if that is what you prefer. I don’t really like dubbed movies but I think it wouldn’t really matter for Versus.
In 2004, an extended version of Versus called Ultimate Versus was released which includes 10 minutes extra footage. This is the version I watched, unfortunately.
I didn’t like this movie for many reasons. The story was a bit strange at the beginning and it took some time to understand but that’s not why I didn’t like this movie. Basically, it was the acting and the poorly choreographed (for the most part) fight scenes. This is a kung fu (karate) movie with zombies and a large dose of fantasy. The acting was over-the-top and I found their posturing to be tedious. In some scenes, the acting seemed so unnatural that the original Japanese dialog looked dubbed.
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 resurrection.
The movie starts with some information about the portals and the Forest of Ressurection and we see a mugshot of our protagonist. He’s a convict serving 202 years in prison for murder, robbery, and other such unpleasant crimes. The world is full of people who are better off dead. It then jumps to our murderer as a samurai in the forest as he tries to defend himself from a group of samurais. Well, they may not be samurais but they are wielding samurai swords. Then there is another jump to something that resembles present day and two escaped convicts are running through the forest until they meet a group of Yakuza. I think the plan was that they would leave with them but as happens in movies all the time…things didn’t go according to plan.
The movie is basically about a fight for power between the two guys above and it’s set in the Forest of Ressurection where the dead rise. An aptly named forest. There is a fairly big cast of characters but basically, only three that you might care about. The two guys above and a girl in a white dress that somehow never gets dirty despite spending the whole movie in a forest and a lot of it on the forest floor. And the guys do their martial arts in leather clothes… It may look good on the camera but really, it can’t be easy to jump and kick in tight leather pants.
The zombies are an interesting bunch too. Sometimes they are like regular zombies and at others, they can hold guns and shoot, fight with swords, and do karate. They may even be concerned about their appearance. There is no clear way to kill them either…but they do die…again.
I would have given this movie one star but it all came together quite nicely at the end and there was an epic fight scene that unlike most of the other fight scenes was well choreographed and fun to watch. I wasn’t bored even though it’s quite long at about 10 minutes. While the sounds effects were silly and unnecessary, the makeup was pretty decent. It was too long, though.
The 444th Portal is the Forest of Ressurection. A magical forest brings the dead back to life.
How to kill the zombies
They are not easy to kill and it make take much more effort but they seem to be able to be disposed of in much the same way as humans: bullets, swords, and kung fu.
I think I heard them say, zombie