Versus (Ultimate) (1999)

Posted: January 3, 2015 in Movie Review
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Ultimate Versus

Directed By: Ryuhei Kitamura

Starring: Tak Sakaguchi, Hideo Sakaki, Chieko Misaka, Kenji Matsuda

Synopsis: A gang battles hordes of zombies, and each other, in a remote forest.

Thoughts: In addition to being a horror fan, I’ve always loved a good kung fu flick. This has led me to explore not only a good bit of Shaw Brothers, but also a lot of other Hong Kong style action movies. Versus is a great mashup of the horror genre and that Hong Kong style. There are hordes of zombies and plenty of gun play and martial arts.  It’s got a pretty solid base story, but it is dominated by the action, which makes this pretty enjoyable.

The acting is a bit cliché, but I believe that has more to do with the characters than it has to do with the actors. Each of the characters has a definitive look, whether it is a black leather trench coat, a brightly colored shirt or pink hair, but past that, there just isn’t any character development. If you are sitting down to watch a kung fu zombie flick, then you’re probably not too worried about character development.

Director Ryuhei Kitamura made an effort to combine multiple genres into his film, as he believed it may be his last movie and wanted to showcase all of his cinematic inspirations. Although Versus didn’t have much of a cinematic release, it has become a cult classic, which led to Kitamura directing several more films, including Godzilla: Final Wars, Midnight Meat Train and No One Lives. He’s a director that I pay attention to, as I’ve enjoyed his movies.

There are three different versions of Versus; the original cut, the R-Rated cut and the Ultimate Edition (which I watched). The R-Rated version cuts out about 4 minutes of gore from the original cut, while the Ultimate version is 10 minutes longer and has a lot of changes made to the effects, music and even some completely new scenes.

Versus is great fun, often playing out like a live action video game, with the characters facing new challenges and villains as the movie progresses, while also revealing more of the story line piece by piece. Even though each scene is action packed and enjoyable, the movie does get a bit lengthy. The Ultimate Version is over 2 hours long, which is an eternity for a movie that thrives on action like Versus does. I really enjoyed this movie, and have watched it more than once, but I think that it would be even better with a tighter timeline and more editing. This would be an amazing movie if trimmed down to about 90-100 minutes of so.

If you haven’t seen this, you should really check it out. It brings a new spin to the zombie genre and is filled with amazing sword and gun play, and also has flashes of The Matrix as well.


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