Set in the present where a group of ruthless gangsters, an unknown woman and an escaped convict have met, unwittingly, in The Forest of Resurrection, the 444th portal to the other side. Their troubles start when those once killed and buried in the forest come back from the dead, with the assistance of the evil Sprit that has also come back, come back from ages past, to claim his prize. The final standoff between Light and Dark has never been so cunning, so brutal and so deadly. This is where old Japanese Samurai mysticism meets the new world of the gangster and the gun. Gruesome, bloody and positively bold.
Mad-as-a-bag-of-badgers Japanese Yakuza/zombie/Highlander hybrid (I think), made on a micro-budget by Ryûhei Kitamura, the guy who would go on to direct enjoyable gore-fest The Midnight Meat Train. Honestly, if they spent more than two hundred quid on this thing, then I can't see where the money went. I kind-of liked it though, in a bizarre way. So what's it all about then? Hm. Fecked if I know, to be truthful. We're informed early on that there are apparently 666 portals to "the other side" on Earth, all hidden from man. Our story takes place in the "Forest of Resurrection" in Japan, the 444th portal. We open with a medieval Japanese warrior, in said forest, surrounded by what appears to be similar Japanese warriors, but undead ones. Anyway, no sooner has our man cut down these ghoulies with a swish and a slash, than he himself is cut in half by what appears to be some sorcerer/warrior fellow, who in turn is already (I think) facing off against some other mean-looking samurai-type. Then, title card, then, um, a pair of modern-day escaped prisoners running through what I suppose must be the same forest, en route to a rendezvous with a bunch of Yakuza hoodlums sent to... what? help them? Not sure, since the meeting degenerates quickly into a stand-off between the Yakuza and the prisoners (along with a girl the Yakuza had captive in their car), which turns into a chase through the woods, but not before a prisoner and a Yakuza are killed and reanimated as zombies. Off go the girl and the other prisoner (finding our prisoner fellow some sexy leather duds on some previously-slaughtered poor sod; the place is choc-full of dead/UNdead Japanese criminals, by the looks of things) and off go the remaining Yakuza in hot pursuit, needing to recapture them before "He" shows up. "He"? Who? Erm, the Yakuza bossman I think, Except that as soon as "He" shows up, his gang (along with a few more members who were just hiding in the trees) mutiny, and shoot him to pieces. Except he stands straight back up and attacks them. And he ISN'T a zombie. He's... what? Immortal? Hang on, isn't he that sorcerer-y fellow from the first scene? Oh, he's just bitten someone's neck. So, he's a vampire? And who are these cop types who've shown up and keep bickering? Um... Oh, sod it. Here are the tweets I took to posting when I probably should've been paying attention: -Currently watching a Japanese film called Versus. Looks like it was made out in the woods for a tenner. And it is utterly demented. -I went for a poo for ten minutes near the start of it and I can't pick up the thread of what's going on. It's just mad craziness. -It's just a rabid succession of people who may or may not be alive, immortal, dead or undead, fighting, in a forest. I think. -NOW what's happening?!? Why's everyone suddenly dressed like feudal Samurai? Are they different people to the other people? Where am I? -Unh? WTF? Where did those power rangers go? Everyone's dressed modern again. Why's that woman tied to a tree? -Why's that bellend screaming about "gates" and "power"? Isn't he that Samurai guy? No? Yes? Is that a zombie up that tree there? -Why's that zombie doing a lizard/jaguar impression? He looks like a ****... who are these, now? Where's that bloke's hand gone? -Is it a comedy? A screwball comedy? Oh, he's just blown up that zombie doing the lizard face and scratchy hands. Good. Knob, he was. -It's a big sword-off now between the two leather-jackety guys. Were they the main good/bad guys all the way through, then? -Oh, his head's off. That other fella's off on his motorbike. So, where were those samurai types then? What was that all about? -"99 years later"? Eh? Who are those baldies? Isn't that yer man who's head fell off? What's that silly bitch moaning about? -Oh, it's finished. Ha! I definitely need to watch that again, I've never been so lost. Made Eraserhead look like Gavin & Stacey. So there you have it. If two hours of ceaseless kicky-slashy fighting between alive/dead/undead/immortal Japanese types, in a forest, set to an arcade game-standard techno-rock soundtrack appeals, then this is the film for you. I can't rate it very highly at this point - I'm just too overwhelmed, really - but I'm tempted to look at it again. As I said, I kind-of liked it, for all its mentalness. 6/10.