Monday, September 26, 2005


Film: Versus (2000)
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
Tagline: Witness a battle no one has ever seen.
Rating: *** out of 5 stars

Probably haven't heard of this movie, have you? Imagine the Japanese made a zombie flick that feels like the lovechild of Evil Dead and Highlander. Yeah.

Like Dead & Breakfast, this is a cheesy, VERY low-budget horror film. If you're into that kind of thing, you'll really wanna check this one out. It has already developed quite a cult following, and understandably so. The plot is kinda incoherent (something to do with immortal warriors, a gateway to Hell, and the Yakuza) so its main appeal is the humor and the gore.

Easily the stand-out feature of this movie is the nut-job villain played by Kenji Matsuda. You can't miss him: he'll be the one in a green shirt, wielding a switchblade. DJ calls him "the asian Johnny Depp" but I think he's more like Gary Oldman at his wackiest. The guy definitely chews some scenary with his overacting, but I dare you not to laugh. He's the best part of this movie.

I'm not too fond of the lead actor, but he kinda grew on me. The lead actress is pretty annoying (aren't all asian chicks? haha, I keed! I keed!) but luckily for us, she gets smacked around a lot.

I didn't find anything groundbreaking about the cinematography. And its homages are anything but subtle. Sam Raimi's classic "Shaky-Cam" (camera racing through the woods at ground level) is used a few times, so much that it kind of bugged me, as it started to feel more like a rip-off than an homage. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Even more obvious was the use of the "Sam-o-Cam" which I have never seen anyone else use since Raimi invented it for EDII. My reaction was half "Oh, cmon!" and half "Awesome! Evil Dead!". I can't blame them since I myself would love to adopt the Sam-o-Cam in a horror movie, except I'd be a little more subtle, geesh.

All that business aside, I enjoyed it. I would probably understand a lot more if I saw it again. For your first viewing, just enjoy the Yakuza guy's hilarious antics. And of course, the gratuitous violence toward women and zombies.


lamarocket said...

One of my favorites from overseas. If you haven't seen Wild Zero yet, check that one out next!