Road Rash Reviews

Versus [Blu-ray] Review****-

Cert 18 | 120 mins | 2000

4 Star

Welcome to The Forest of Death and Resurrection.

From Horror/Fantasy fan writer and director Ryûhei Kitamura (Godzilla: Final Wars, The Midnight Meat Train, The Doorman) comes a smorgasbord of martial arts, gunplay, Kenjutsu, Zombies and Yakuzas. He tells us the tale of ancient secrets and battles that last through generations.

Throughout history only a dedicated select few have known about the 666 portals to the other side, where very powerful knowledge is available. The power of darkness, and use it for their own purposes.

In 10th century Japan a lone Samurai (Toshiro Kamiaka) is in a forest, nothing weird there, but his opponents are, they are Zombie Samurai, and he cuts a swathe through them. But at the heart of these Zombies stands a priest with an unknown agenda. Injured the Samurai attacks the priest, but he is easily cut down by the priests bodyguards. In his death throes he spots a female saviour, but they are too late for him.

Present day and two convicts flee through a forest, trying to get to a rendezvous with their Yakuza cohorts. Prisoner KSC2-303 (Tak Sakaguchi, Yakuza Weapon, Why Don’t You Play in Hell?, Rise of the Machine Girls) and Prisoner POCH-1825 (Motonari Komiya, Alive) come to a road, and they wait while 303 takes a cops hand out of the cuffs he is wearing.

To cut a short story shorter, the Yakuza that turn up don’t have ‘The Man’s’ (Hideo Sakaki, Accidental Kidnapper, The Suicide Song) interests at heart, self-improvement is their idea for the day especially ‘Yakuza Leader with butterfly knife’ (Kenji Matsuda, Shinobi: The Law of Shinobi, Watch Me, One Piece (TV Series)) along with ‘Motorcycle-riding yakuza with revolver’ (Yuichiro Arai, Alive), ‘Crazy yakuza with amulet’ (Minoru Matsumoto, Kamen Rider Den-O: I’m Born!) and ‘Yakuza with glasses (Kazuhito Ohba, Sky High). Instantly 303 knows his day is not going as planned, and when they present a mystery kidnapped ‘girl’ (Chieko Misaka, Strawberry Shortcakes, Dadadada Seventeen) 303 is not impressed.

I hate guys that don’t respect women.

With a gun at his head 303 must do something, and he uses Crazy Yakuza to shoot one of the other Yakuza but as they stand off the dead Yakuza rises as a zombie. Which ends up with about one hundred bullets in it before it stops moving. This gives ‘Yakuza Leader’ an idea and he shoots 1825 in the head and as if by magic 1825 comes straight back up all zombiefied. Another salvo of bullets ensues. In this confusion 303 and the girl make their getaway.

In the woods 303 finds a couple of bodies tied to the trees, so he equips himself with some new clothes, let the fun begin. As the crazy Yakuza realizes that this is the forest where they have been burying their victims for years and there are a lot of empty graves. And a lot that are restless to be out of their graves.

What ensues is blood death and re-animation and plenty of it.

You know I’ll just kill him twice!

With plenty of gun play, gore, sword play and special effects you are in for a two-hour treat, and there is more.

Versus is available on Blu-ray

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements by Arrow Films, approved by director Ryûhei Kitamura
High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentations of both versions of the film: the original 2000 cut and 2004 s Ultimate Versus, featuring over 10 minutes of new and revised footage
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon
DISC 1: VERSUS
Original lossless Japanese 5.1 and 2.0 stereo audio and English 2.0 stereo audio
Optional English subtitles
Audio commentary by Audio commentary by Kitamura, cast and crew
Audio commentary by Kitamura and the cast and crew
New visual essay on the career of Kitamura by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp
Behind Versus, a two-part behind-the-scenes documentary exploring the film s production
First Contact: Versus Evolution, a featurette exploring the film s origins
Tak Sakaguchi s One-Man Journey, an archival featurette on the actor s visit to the 2001 Japan Film Festival in Hamburg
Film festival screening footage
Team Versus, a brief look inside the Napalm Films office
Deep in the Woods, an archival featurette featuring interviews with Kitamura, cast and crew
The Encounter, an archival interview with editor Shûichi Kakesu
Deleted scenes with audio commentary by Kitamura, cast and crew
Nervous and Nervous 2, two side story mini-movies featuring characters from the main feature
Featurette on the making of Nervous 2
Versus FF Version, a condensed, 20-minute recut of the film
Multiple trailers
Image gallery
DISC 2: ULTIMATE VERSUS
Original lossless Japanese 6.1 and 2.0 stereo audio and English 6.1 and 2.0 stereo audio
Optional English subtitles
Audio commentary by Kitamura, cast and crew
Sakigake! Otoko versus Juku, a featurette on the newly shot material for Ultimate Versus
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film and a reprinted interview with Kitamura by Tom Mes, and notes on the making of the film by Kitamura

DirectorRyûhei Kitamura
GenreAction, Drama, Fantasy
StarringTak Sakaguchi, Hideo Sakaki, Chieko Misaka, Kenji Matsuda, Yuichiro Arai
Available to buy on : Own it on Blu-Ray
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