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Genre: Extreme Zombie Action

review in one breath

When you exempt the mega-budget/block-buster stuff of Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg, and the Wachowski brothers, what movies come to mind as jaw-dropping entertainment? Well, director Ryuhei Kitamura's Versus is now at the top of that list. Of course you and I are different (for example, we can both agree I am better looking) and so our lists of "most memorable" may indeed differ. So let me qualify this praise. For those interested in non-stop, full-throttle action involving, yakuza, zombies, karmic cycles, sinister priests, human sacrifice, revenge themes, and limb-hacking extraordinaire, this will likely top your list as well.

This film is so cool that it never even names its main character, who we must refer to as Prisoner KSC2-303 due to the number on his uniform. Of course, few people ask you your name when they are the resurrected undead seeking your annihilation. Nor do you mention this as you hack them into little pieces with your lengthy samurai sword. Such is the roller coaster world of Versus.

The basic premise is that there is a spiritual portal within Japan (444th of 666), the portentous ground of which results in those killed therein to resurrect. Keeping an eye on the general malaise is our similarly unnamed villian (Hideo Sakaki) who we know has waited centuries at this gateway for the chance to sacrifice a particular maiden and thereby unlock forever his dastardly power. In the previous karmic cycle, a battered samurai who we recognize as (the contemporary) Prisoner KSC2-303, attempted to protect the maiden from the grip of the villain. We are now in karmic cycle two and all hell is about to break loose, as Prisoner KSC2-303 has no idea what is going on. He simply finds his tough-ass self in the midst of strange goings on involving whacked out yakuza who quickly rise from the dead once he terminates them.

This film is so action-packed, that we may need another category for it. First, the swordsmanship is excellent. I have given unparalleled (and well deserved) praise to the swordsmanship of Gojoe. Let's just call this the pop version of Gojoe (which still holds its place at the top). Second, we have some really cool good guy/bad guy stuff going on here. These characters really rock. You've never met yakuza quite like this. In fact, the character's populating Kitamura's world are amazingly colorful and thoroughly carry the story through sheer personality. This was, in fact, one of the predominant impressions of this film. These characters are more memorable than the storyline. And saying that is a lot, given the fact that the storyline is non-stop, ball-busting adventure.

You want to know the story line? Unlike many other films, there's no possible way I can convey what you will see. Not even by giving you a blow by blow account. This is a very well constructed film, with even better characters. It is humorous, dramatic and bonkers wild all at the same time.

I thoroughly recommend you get your hands on a copy of Versus to check out what fun can be had.

cultural interest violence sex strangeness
Well, let's not exaggerate. Zombie movies don't generally convey "culture". Extraordinary amounts of tongue-in-cheek gore. Then again. perhaps "extraordinary amounts" is understating matters... Anyone who puts his sword down long enough to unzip his pants is in for an undead resurrection (and by the way, then it is way too late). This film ROCKS!. "How do I hack thee? Let me count the ways...". Five severed thumbs up!

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