versusSometimes crap is fun, and sometimes crap is crap. Sometimes people laud crap when they should know better (or don’t). Some movies know how to balance the crazy action, hyper camera movement and attention-grabbing stuff without killing the story. Some movies are Versus.

Folks who like chop-sockie, kinetic/violent/Asian fare love this film. But it sucks. It doesn’t breach taste like Ichi The Killer, or get ponderous like a more recent John Woo, but it does lack the simple stuff of entertainment. The characters are few, and the plot’s an excuse to glue many dull sequences of violence.

It seems there are 666 portals connecting our world to that of the dead, and one of them is a Japanese forest where gangsters like to bury their victims. Here, two immortals meet for a great battle, since (no doubt) there can be only one. And all the dead gangsters come back as zombies. That’s about it.

The movie apes the early, frenetic work of Sam Raimi without any of the wit. Raimi turned his camera into a character, and no matter how weird it was, it got the story to move and create atmosphere. No such artistry here, in the diabetic-in-a-candy-shop jitters that Kitamura Ryuhei forces on his poor DP. The camera moves – with no heed or help to the story.

The audience for this film, I think, are geeks who like stuff most of us don’t. When I have to watch bad films (for my day job), I find respite in these things – elements of production that do not suck. But that’s not the way to judge a film, seen for entertainment or edification, on your own dollar and dime. Still, if you like Versus, there’s not much satisfaction to be had. The fights (of the dull variety where a group stands around somebody, waiting for individual beatings) are choreographed poorly, and the zombie makeup is awful.

Versus tries hard to be something – rousing action, hilarious horror, mystical journey – but it lacks the heart, the story to be any of them. There’s no real context for the action or horror. The movie is just boring, a dull waste of time. Don’t let it waste yours.

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