Versus (2000, Japan)


Starring: Tak Sakaguchi, Hideo Sakaki, Kenji Matsuda
Director: Yudai Yamaguchi, Ryuhei Kitamura
Genre: Action, Horror, Thriller
Language: Japanese
Country:  
My Rating: 4/5

Versus begins 500 years in the past with a samurai slicing and dicing his way through a mob of zombies. He turns to see an odd character standing in his way, seemingly having appeared out of thin air. This is the audience’s first introduction to “the man” (Hideo Sakaki), our obligatory supremely powerful, yet calmly sadistic villain for the duration of the film. (By the way, none of the characters in Versus have names – they simply don’t need them.) The samurai attempts to take a run at this mysterious character but instead is cut cleanly in half effortlessly. From his separated torso’s view from the ground the camera pans up to another samurai (Tak Sakaguchi) waiting in the wings.

Fast forward to the present day, or something close to present day. Two criminals (one of which happens to be Tak Sakaguchi, somehow) have escaped from prison and make their way through the woods to a rendezvous point where they expect to be picked up by some yakuza to complete the escape. The yakuza have other plans, however, and have strict orders to wait for their boss to arrive in a second car. They don’t know why they’re supposed to be doing this. All they know is they were supposed to kidnap the girl, meet up with these two escaped convicts, and wait. Sakaguchi’s character, henceforth referred to as Prisoner KSC2-303, is not one to follow orders. He keeps giving the yakuza a hard time, driving their leader crazy because they know they’re not allowed to kill him. This scene goes on a bit too long on my opinion; consisting mostly of dramatic posing, arguing, and tough-guy banter. The camera keeps rotating around the characters and seems to bob and weave in random directions for dramatic effect, but the only effect that comes across is sea-sickness. Apparently they had rented a steadicam for only that one day and the Director of Photography, Takumi Furuya, was off shooting a TV drama, leaving his assistants in charge of the scene.

Prisoner KSC2-303 manages to grab one of the yakuza and points his gun at another yakuza, shooting and killing him. This results in a stand-off until the yakuza that was just shot dead stands up and attacks the others. Yep, he’s a full-blown zombie alright. The yakuza unload several dozen bullets into the zombie’s head and chest to no avail before Prisoner KSC2-303 takes out his entire chest cavity with 1 shot. Apparently anyone that dies within the vicinity of those woods comes back to life as a zombie, and for some reason Prisoner KSC2-303 has some sort of special knack for killing them. But why does their boss want this prisoner and some random girl out here in the middle of nowhere? And if everyone comes back to life as zombies in these woods, what about all the corpses the yakuza have been burying out there for years? Oops…”

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This entry was published on September 23, 2012 at 12:40 pm and is filed under 2000, 4/5 Great, Action, Horror, Japan, Thriller. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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