Monday, January 30, 2012
VERSUS (THE ULTIMATE VERSUS) (2000)
Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura
Tak Sakaguchi - Prisoner KSC2-303
Hideo Sakaki- The Man
Kenji Matsuda - Yakuza Leader
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.
This month I've reviewed a decent amount Japanese gore films. And I'll be reviewing more next month as well. Yet with Versus, this was one of the main reasons why the whole genre of gore films really got started. Well that and Ichi The Killer. I was planning to review this last year but other things came up and it got pushed to the back. So with me reviewing so many films this month with actors that really became famous from being in Versus, and it being out for over 12 years now, I decided that I really can't wait any longer with this review. I should note that this is going to be the review for the Director's Cut, hence the other name of the film.
I might as well start with the actors and Tak Sakaguchi as Prisoner KSC2-303 first. Sakaguchi plays a cock-sure amnesiac that knows he's a bad ass and it shows. Sakaghuchi even though was an unknown at the time made a big enough impact with this that he now is part of the Sushi Typhoon production company and has his own stuntman group called Team Zero all thanks to his role in this film, of which his role is the second most memorable in Versus. The Man, played by Hideo Sakaki is a more toned down kind of a monster. Make no mistake he is a monster. Instead of coming in and boasting of what he can do, Sakaki instead of saying all of his lines with craziness just plays it cool and collected, as if nothing surprises him. This in return makes his character truly scary. Yet the one actor that sticks out the most is Kenji Matsuda who plays the Yakuza leader. Now the reason why Masuda sticks out is because he comes on the screen and you know he's there. He chews every scene he is in and just keeps going. Another reason is his facial expressions throughout the whole film. Versus also helped make all three of these actors big manes in Asian cinema, as before Versus all were relative unknowns and the film made audiences take notice of them.
This film was also the launching pad for director Ryuhei Kitamura as well. Before Versus, Kitamura had only made short films. In fact Versus was only supposed to be a short film as well and a sequel to Kitamura's Down To Hell. Well thankfully everyone involved agreed that Versus was strong enough and had enough meat to the story to make it a full feature length film. Even though his camera work was still lacking in some areas, you could still tell that there was something exciting and different in the look of the film. There was a movement in it that was lacking in a lot of other Asian filmmakers. Kitamura isn't afraid to get up close to the action, though sometimes the action is lost because of this The film also had a slickness to it that is missing in most horror films, and action movies as well. My problem with Versus visual wise is that the first 15 or so minutes of it, the film looks to be shot on a home camera with to much grain and a blurriness that is persistent. Thankfully the film becomes sharper looking and more in focus as it goes on. I should point out that since this was Ultimate Versus, which means it really is the director's cut of the film, over 10 minutes was put into the film that was shot four years later and added to the movie. These scenes stick out the most due to the look of them is more stylized and quicker paced. Thankfully they blend in very well into the film itself and it doesn't break the flow of the film apart to much.
Now the reason why Versus is one of those movies that stick out above the rest is because of what it does and is. What it does is blend multiple genres seamlessly. It takes martial arts and combines it with the horror genre without losing the impact of either one. It also blends humor and action into the mix as well, which also has been done before also. Now while combining horror and martial arts is nothing new, it's the addition of all of the above that sets this one apart from all that came before it. The film knows that all that is going on is outrageous and over the top and it doesn't apologize for any of it. Now while there is plot holes in the story. Okay, make that big plot holes. But yet after awhile you don't care about the stuff that makes no sense because you're having to much fun watching all hell break looses on the screen. From Yakuza assassins that come out of nowhere to destroy all in their path to zombies that use guns against those that buried them in the forest, it all makes sense in a weird way, no matter what odd thing shows up out of nowhere, and there is plenty. This is a cult movie for a reason, plus a launching pad for multiple people involved in it. Yet one the main things this film accomplished is it was one of the movies that helped start of a brand new genre in Asian cinema, not J-horror as that was around even before this, but the Japanese gore genre and brought it to the fore front to let people know that all rules can be broken. Now lets all hope the sequel is realized this year!
Open upper jaw surgery thanks to a right fist.
Yeah......But this place is fucked up.
One of the thugs was shot dead at the beginning of the movie, because the director disliked the actor portraying him.
In the scene where Tak Sakaguchi's character holds a pistol in his mouth, the director originally called for him to rack the slide with his teeth. He tried this, and broke a tooth. One of the zombies was played by a dentist, and fixed it for him.
First considered and even advertised as a sequel to Kitamura's movie Down To Hell with the title 'Down 2 Hell'. But because of the many fights in front and behind the camera Kitamura changed the title to 'Versus'.