hat "Versus" gives in place of a storyline is this: apparently
there is a portal to some unknown dimension that promises good things for those
who can open, and then enter, it. To achieve this end, an apparently unsavory
fellow has hired some Yakuza thugs to help a convict escape. Everyone eventually
ends up in the "Forest of Resurrection" where dead people become
How? There must be something in the water. Just kidding, of course. The
movie never really bothers with something as unexciting as exposition. There's a
whole lotta fighting, swordplay, gunplay, and all manner of wacky hijinks. A lot
of people die, some survive, and still others go on to change into -- well, does
The convict turns out to be our hero, who has escaped from a prison truck
apparently in the process of transporting him somewhere (I'd guess to another
prison). To sum up a long story short: zombies come alive, Yakuza thugs get picked
off, and a whole lot of bodies get chopped up, hearts get punched out of chests,
and a crazed FBI-trained tracker gets shot with a gun that literally tears a
hole in his body big enough to drive a truck through.
All in all, "Versus" delivers on its one basic promise: action, and
tons and tons of action. This movie has, for lack of a better word, style.
It is obviously a low-budget film, since there are barely any special effects of
the computer variety, but many of the old-fashion practicals and gallons and
gallons of fake blood variety. It's gore at its finest, and it's quite fine, let
me assure you. Gorefiends will pray their eyes don't fail them during the viewing.
That's not to say the movie is cheesy or b-movie material. Oh no, there's
plenty of competence in the production, and the acting is not what I would call
terrible, although I wonder how hard it is to just stand there looking cool. (It
depends on the person standing, I guess would be the answer.) The
camera makes people look cool, not the actors themselves. Well, not most actors,
anyway. Directors like John Woo could make a mannequin look cool. And now, so
can Japanese wunderkin Ryuhei Kitamura.
Here, the camera rarely stands still for longer than a few seconds, and the
fights are choreographed with fluidity and a great sense of wonder that I
haven't seen in a while from an action film. The move is superbly shot and
edited, and the use of music reminds me of Darren Aronofsky's "Pi."
The soundtrack gets your heart thumping and the action gets your adrenaline
pumping, and the whole thing seems to keep going and going and going...
all vastly entertaining. That's really all you need to know. "Versus"
is a vastly entertaing film without a single hint of substance to hinder its
There is a twist at the end, although I can't be sure what it means, since it
seems to make everything in the film irrelevant up to that point. Oh well. At
least it looked cool -- which, I suspect, is the only ambition here.