Blu-ray Review: Versus (2000)

Two escaped prisoners make their way through the woods, and soon meet up with a gang of over-the-top Yakuza and the woman they have kidnapped. Unbeknownst to them, the forest is home to the 444th portal to hell (the Portal of Resurrection to be precise), but the learn soon enough as a slight misunderstanding leads to some bodies hittin’ the floor… but they sure as shit don’t stay there!

Prisoner KSC2-303 (Tak Sakaguchi) and The Girl (Chieko Misaka) escape the initial zombie fracas and flee deeper into those wicked woods but soon that verdant landscape is lousy with the walking dead, and escape may be impossible for our heroes and their gangster pursuers (not mention their occult-minded boss and the assassins he employs)!

I’m not going to lie to you cats n’ creeps, Versus is a straight up mother fucking masterpiece!

Ryûhei Kitamura (along with co-writer Yudai Yamaguchi) created the “all killer, no filler” (a real miracle considering this film runs 120 minutes in length!) zombie flick of the ages filled to the fuckin’ beastly brim with non-stop completely off-the-wall action (all expertly choreographed), gore, laughs, chambara sequences, reincarnation, guitar riffs, and enough frenzied camera work to give ol’ Sam Raimi a run for his money!

Honestly the easiest way for you to picture the unbridled lunacy you get with this fright flick is to imagine if early Peter Jackson was influenced as much by anime as he was the aforementioned Raimi… and if that tickles your fiendish fancy (and I bet demons to diamonds it does), then get your ass in front of this one immediately!

Speaking of the best way to do that, this new 2 disc, special edition Blu-ray courtesy of Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment is definitely the way to go! Don’t believe me, then wrap your eerie eyeballs around this list of beastly bonus features!

Kicking things off we get two audio commentary tracks featuring Kitamura (joined by producer Keishiro Shin on one, and members of the cast and crew on the other) that takes us through the labor-of-love that was the film’s production.

Following that comes: a solid retrospective on Kitamura’s career courtesy of Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp, a collection of archival featurettes (containing a frantic look at the film’s origins, footage of Sakaguchi attending the 2001 Japan Film Festival in Hamburg, a brief look at the office of Kitamura’s production company, and a duo of French promo pieces for the film featuring cast and crew and editor Shuichi Kakesu respectively), a collection of deleted scenes with commentary by Kitamura (along with members of the cast and crew), a twenty minute cut of the film, a two-part archival “making of” documentary, archival film festival footage, a pair of short films featuring characters from Versus; Nervous and Nervous 2 (the latter of which features an insanely brief  “making of” featurette as well).

Bringing up the rear for disc one we have a collection of trailers for the film, and a series of galleries featuring all manner of promotional images used to advertise this putrid picture!

Disc two brings us an extended cut of the film dubbed Ultimate Versus, which features ten minutes of footage shot four years after the film’s completion.

This is less jarring then you’d expect, though in my not so humble opinion; the original recipe of the film was just fine as is… but it is cool to have this cut available to see what Kitamura wanted to include on the first go around but couldn’t.

Not to be undone, this disc has a few special features on hand as well including an audio commentary featuring Kitamura, cast and crew, and a featurette detailing the shooting of some of the differing material in this version.

Pound for preternatural pound, Versus is zombie pic perfection; it’s fast-paced, insane, full of gore and action… it’s like comfort food for the psychotronic crowd… ya know, my kind of people!



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