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Versus (2000) is a Japanese action/horror film written by Ryuhei Kitamura and Yudai Yamaguchi and directed by Ryuhei Kitamura. Starring Tak Sakaguchi, Hideo Sakaki, Chieko Misaka, and Kenji Matsuda. Versus was originally intended to be a sequel to Kitamura’s short film Down To Hell (1997).

Deep within the mysterious Forest of Resurrection, a spectacular battle between good and evil has gone on since the dawn of time. When Prisoner KSC2-303 escapes from a maximum security jail, he enters the forest believing it will lead him to a safe haven. Instead, he finds himself a pawn in an endless struggle played out against an ever-changing background across multiple temporal planes of existence. His opponent: a mysterious man who seemingly cannot be killed. The battle to be waged: Good versus Evil in the pursuit of a beautiful woman who holds the power to grant eternal life. But what Prisoner KSC2-303 cannot remember is whether he is the personification of good or the very essence of darkness.

Girls, guns or zombies? Girls, guns, gangsters, and zombies!

Not rated. 119 minutes. Watch “Trailer 2” here …

Watch “Trailer 1” (here) and “Trailer 3” (here).

Versus was released on DVD in the U.S. by Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock in several different versions, including an R-rated version. The best version of the original cut is the 2-Disc Special Edition. However, the 3-Disc Ultimate Versus features 10 minutes of additional new footage, filmed in 2004, as well as new music and various other enhancements.

From the back cover of Ultimate Versus

Deep within the mysterious “Forest of Resurrection”, escaped Prisoner KSC2-303 (Tak Sakaguchi) seeks a safe haven. But, he soon finds himself in an unending battle against an indestructible enemy. What results is a stylish, relentless, kill-crazy, zombie-rampaging, action horror hybrid from Ryuhei Kitamura, director of ALIVE and GODZILLA: FINAL WARS.

Film links: Youtube

Check out the link above to watch Ultimate Versus for free, courtesy of Ryuhei Kitamura himself, as well as various Versus extras.

My thoughts… Back in the mid-’90s, I caught John Woo’s 1989 classic The Killer on a premium cable channel late one night. A few days later, I stumbled upon Sex and Zen & A Bullet in the Head: The Essential Guide to Hong Kong’s Mind-Bending Films (1996) at a local book store, and I was instantly obsessed with Hong Kong action cinema! The obsession held strong for many years. Then, in 2002 or so, I read a review of Versus in a fanzine. I purchased the DVD and my mind was blown! My obsession with Hong Kong cinema quickly shifted to Japanese films, and that obsession lasted even longer. I only started getting back into domestic films in 2012 or so. Versus is awesome! It’s two hours of non-stop action filled with gunplay, swordplay, martial arts, bullets, blood, gangsters, zombies, and more bullets!! After watching Versus once, I declared Tak Sakaguchi the coolest actor in the world and have been a fan ever since! Versus is cool as hell! It is, if nothing else, my favorite Japanese genre film! Sure, Kinji Fukasaka’s Battle Royale (2000) is a better film but, for me, Ryuhei Kitamura’s Versus still takes the top spot!

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