Japanese entertainment. Seriously, what the hell?
In taking a turn for the surreal fellow blogger and friend Alec decided to submit Versus for review, a film I've never heard of. I'm not very well versed in Asian cinema nor do I watch a lot of zombie movies everyone seems to be on a kick about, but I thought I'd give this a look. Who am I to deny my readers a review?
Versus starts off in a strange prologue of how there are 666 portals across the Earth (get it?) to the 'other side' and the 444th one is available in Japan. Conveniently located in a setting where it's cheap to shoot a film, the story then cuts to an action sequence in a forest where some samurai is hacking up the living dead.
Cut to present day where two escaped cons meet up with a gang of mafia thugs for what seems to be some exchange. The gangsters bring out a girl who seems to be important for reasons unbeknownst to everyone, including the audience. Violence ensues as the convicts aren't happy about whatever arrangement's been set and the first person to die returns as a zombie to everyones dismay. After slaying the zombie it's agreed that the convict is not to die and a chase ensues.
I won't go further into the plot as it gets a little muddled, but lets just say it's not all that deep as you would expect. That being said Versus is an interesting mix of high wire martial arts, John Woo style gun play, zombie action, and some of the most horrendous dialogue I've ever heard. This is why I'm torn about the film. I enjoyed some of the fight scenes and the concept was intriguing; however the dubbing was extremely poor and the overuse of pan shots was annoying. While some of the editing was clever most of it was sloppy. There were some really cool looking shots and then there were those that were about as corny as you would imagine a Japanese action film to be.
Versus is probably the most difficult film I've had to review since I started this as throughout the viewing I kept trying to decide whether I liked it or not. It was like a roller coaster of suck. I may have liked it more had I got a hold of a subtitled copy, which may have been better than listening to horrible voice actors, but not by much. Still there were some rousing fight sequences and the overall plot was interesting enough to keep me guessing. That packed with an ending I in no way expected made it an overall enjoyable experience given it's obvious clunky flaws.
Versus may be a difficult film to recommend, but movies like this and Dead Alive have their merits and when not taken seriously are really entertaining. It's not a pretentious film by any means which makes it easy to forgive it's down points. If you go into this movie expecting 'The Bicycle Thief" you'll be sure to be disappointed, if not angry enough to make it your life's mission to destroy every copy of it. For a low budget hybrid of martial arts action and horror you could do worse.
Thanks again to Alec for submitting this. Wanna see a film reviewed by Wiwille? Drop me an email or comment and you'll see it soon on Erik's Ramblings. Rules are posted here.
"For a low-budget ghost-yakuza thriller, Versus is a fairly impressive achievement." - Michael Wilmington