While you’re busy catching onto recent Ryuhei Kitamura releases such as Downrange and The Doorman, feel free to take a trip back about twenty years ago when the auteur began making a name for himself at the turning point of the new millennium with his hit indie action horror, Versus.
The film introduces a hypnotic, stylish martial arts-tinged horror thriller featuring legends Tak Sakaguchi and Hideo Sakaki in an interdimensional story that crosses time and space, drawing an escaped convict and a mysterious, immortal killer closer to an inveitable battle, with a mystical young woman caught in the middle.
It’s the film that drew crowds at festivals around the world and remains a cult favorite to this day, especially for anyone who’s ever purchased a U.S. Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock DVD of this film in one edition or another. Nearly twenty years later, the good folks at Arrow Video have hit a gold mine, and while I’m certain I can talk a good deal about this film, about Kitamura and Sakaguchi, I’ve given my wind-up, and so I’ll leave it to Arrow for the pitch on through December.
Read on, and go pre-order this movie in the UK either here, here, here or here, or in the U.S. here, or in Canada here!
A relentless one-of-a-kind sensory assault chock full of hyper-kinetic fight scenes, gangster shootouts, sword-slashing violence and gory zombie horror, Versus was a key title amongst the barrage of innovative horror and action movies that appeared as if from nowhere from Japan at the turn of the millennium, leading to a new wave of appreciation for Asian extreme cinema.
A mysterious face-off in a wooded clearing between two escaped convicts and a carload of sharply dressed yakuza holding a beautiful woman captive ends in hails of bullets and showers of blood. The location for this violent encounter is the mythic Forest of Resurrection, the site of the 444th portal of the 666 hidden gates that link this earthly domain to the netherworld – and it didn’t get this name for nothing. As one of the surviving prisoners escapes with the girl into the darkness of the forest, disgruntled gangsters soon become the least of their worries as an earlier battle between a lone warrior against hordes of zombie samurai is carried over from a millennium ago into the present day…
Versus caused a sensation both in Japan and internationally upon its release, launching the careers of director Ryûhei Kitamura (Godzilla Final Wars, Midnight Meat Train) and action star and fight choreographer Tak Sakaguchi (Battlefield Baseball, Yakuza Weapon). Arrow Video is proud to present this mythic cult title in both its original 2000 and expanded 2004 Ultimate Versus iterations, in a brand new, director-approved restoration.
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 Kitamura and producer Keishiro Shin
– 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