Versus (2000)

Genres - Action, Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Action Thriller, Martial Arts  |   Run Time - 121 min.  |   Countries - Japan , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Jonathan Crow

Combining elements from virtually every genre considered cool by 14-year-old boys worldwide -- from the kung fu spectacular, to Japanese anime, to zombie horror flicks -- Versus is a meta-B-flick. Featuring a gritty, kinetic style that recalls early Sam Raimi, Ryuhei Kitamura showcases virtually every trope and convention from the trash cinema throughout the world: motorcycles, outlandish guns, cool hair, souped-up samurai swords, and more decapitations than the French Revolution. The result may be chaotic -- characters often enter the mix for no clear reason except to create more mayhem -- but always a treat to watch. One reason is that Kitamura only rarely lets his frenetic editing obscure the action of the film. Another is performance, which, aside from Kenji Matsuda's constant mugging, is uniformly engaging. While the film might not make sense in places or speak to tragedy of the human condition, Versus is a hoot and holler of fun.