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Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura.
Written by Ryuhei Kitamura and Yudai Yamaguchi.
Starring Tak Sakaguchi.
Release Year:  2000 
Review Date:  8/29/03 


Combining every conceivable form of action, “Versus” made some noise back in 2000 when it was released in Japan; the reason for that is quite simple--bad-ass action!  A mysterious prisoner (Tak Sakaguchi) rescues a woman in a forest that is known as the Forest of Resurrection, which really just means that a bunch of zombies are hangin’ out looking for flesh.  A gang of hitmen is after the twosome for reasons that come out during the course of the film, but again, just an excuse to have a lot of people get killed.

It seems like Asian films always find a way to get away with plotting films this way--the story is so ridiculous that it isn’t even worth explaining.  “Versus” uses a “Highlander”-style story, combined with “House of the Dead”, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “The Matrix”-style action, and then employs characters who look real cool and carry a lot of weapons that don’t need to be reloaded.  Result:  swordfights, gun battles, martial arts, and more blood and gore than maybe any film I’ve seen this year.  There’s even a scene that harkens back to a Bell/Longer classic, “Riki-oh (Story of Riki)”, that had me (and one character’s head) rolling in the aisle.  If you like action, check this one out; the filmmaking of it all sometimes is quite poor, and there are way too many Michael Bay Circle Shots in “Versus.”  Otherwise, solid; kind of reminds you of “Blade”, with the frenetic action, the blood, and the variety of ways people have to die.

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09