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Versus

 

Aus dem offiziellen Programm:
Das waren noch Zeiten, als bei Kurosawa lediglich ein paar Hexen im Spinnwebwald wohnten. In diesem rasanten Fankurven-Mix aus Untoten-Splatter und Martial-Arts-Action lauert eine gesamte Armee Italo-Zombies in einem Hain. Häftling KSC2-303 hat sich seine Flucht anders vorgestellt. Statt seiner Freunde warten Profikiller auf ihn, und der Wald, in den er sich mit einer Geisel flüchtet, wächst auf einem der 666 Tore zur Hölle. Die Verfaulten sind derart scharf auf Menschenfleisch, dass sogar George Romero neidisch ins Land der aufgehenden Sonne blickt: Was Newcomer Ryuhei Kitamura für ein stilsicheres Kinofest veranstaltet, zollt jedem Klassiker eine gehörige Portion Respekt. VERSUS ist die Quintessenz des Genres, ein unermüdlicher Zitatenreigen, ein ungebremster Zwei-Stunden-Looping für die X-Box-Generation.

Ryuhei Kitamuras bleihaltige Yakuza-Variante von Tanz der Teufel und Braindead fügt sich nahtlos in jene Welle aufsehenerregender Knalleffekt-Blutbäder, mit denen das Land der aufgehenden Sonne seit nunmehr knapp fünf Jahren in Gestalt von Produktionen wie Battle Royale oder Ichi - The Killer Genre- und Kunst-Festivals gleichermaßen flutet. Diese Hardcore-Version von Resident Evil dürfte unter Horror- und Easternfans Anklang finden wie die sprichwörtliche warme Semmel.

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A delinquent luckily escapes only to find himself in nightmarish woods hunted by yakuza hit men and haunted by bloodthirsty zombies. The `forest of resurrection' provides legions of the dead attacking the fearless gangsters, who are anything but defenceless. At the end nothing is left to destroy in this edgy non-stop-gore acceleration.

One of the most fun horror-action-comedy-cult films I've seen in a very, very long time.

Ain't It Cool News



Two escaped convicts, each wearing a jump-suite that reads "Lawbreaker" (one of whom still has a severed hand dangling from his handcuffs), rendezvous with a carload of super-cool Yakuza and their female captive in the woods. But, when the Yakuza heavies refuse to free her, prisoner KSC2-303 (real life Yakuza street-fighter Tak Sakaguchi) declares he's a feminist, and coolly guns down one of the gangsters, only to discover that in The Forest Of Resurrection, the dead don't always stay dead.

Think Sam Raimi (Evil Dead) directing a mega-high-energy Japanese version of Highlander, with the assistance of Kung Fu choreographer Yuen Wo-Ping (Drunken Master, The Matrix) and you'll have the beginning of an inkling of what to expect. Immortal Samurais, gun toting Yakuza zombies, acrobatic kung fu and blood, blood, blood, what more could anyone want?

Guess what, there is more. What makes the kinetic cinematography, rapid-fire editing, and super-stylised gunfights most impressive is that everything was done optically (that means no CGI, or computer graphic cheating) on a very tight budget. The only evidence of the limited budget can be seen in the occasional blatantly fake decapitated head or other body part, the odd visible acrobatic wire, and a couple of shots that might have been redone for lighting, given a bigger budget, and more than two months to shoot.

However, what they did with what they had is unquestionably astounding. That so many shots from so many different angles and camera set-ups can cut together so cohesively is an achievement in itself, even Hong Kong action master Tsui Hark's cuts can sometimes be disorienting. And what a cast! Did Ryuhei Kitamura just cast the coolest, sexiest people in Japan, or what?! Tak Sakaguchi and Hideo Sakaki are perfect adversaries for each other, with each radiating a complete self-possessed hipness. Minoru Matsumoto is hysterical (frantic and hilarious) as the freaked out Yakuza runt. Originally only cast in a minor role, Matsumoto spent so much time on set they expanded his part and the results are sidesplitting. However, Kenji Matsuda as the knife wielding, possibly gay, and definitely histrionic Yakuza outpatient steals almost every scene he's in.

Versus manages to be cool without taking itself too seriously and somehow manages to combine over-the-top action and slapstick gross out comedy at neither's expense. Even though Versus could have been shortened a bit (it could never be tighter), it's every genre buff's wet dream. We can only wait in anticipation for Kitamura's follow-ups, the already shot, Alive (like a high-octane Cube), and his Hollywood debut, The Pirates Of Tarutao (in pre-production in Thailand now).

Exclaim!



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