Archives for posts with tag: The Punisher

Grade B

An action-packed, bloody, violent movie that comes closest to a faithful adaptation of the comic book character, but still misses the mark.

The third movie about Marvel Comics’ Punisher character stars Ray Stevenson, who is far and away the better actor for the role than Dolph Lundgren and Thomas Jane ever were.  “Punisher: War Zone” takes place in NYC — or more to the point, what could barely pass for NYC in Canada — where Stevenson and a new, disfigured (thanks to Stevenson) mob boss go head to head for control of the city.  Both men are monsters in their own right: Stevenson is a fearsome monster to the bad guys, a vigilante who kills criminals by the hundreds after his family is killed by gangsters; and Dominic West (playing mob boss Jigsaw) is a homicidal maniac who preys on civilians, cops, and other gangsters to attain more power and money.  With their goals at polar opposites, only one will come out alive.

I like the dark look, the large assortment of guns, and hyper-violence of this adaptation which closely resembles what I remember seeing in my issues of The Punisher comics from the late 80s to early 90s.  At one hour and forty-three minutes long, “Punisher: War Zone” moves along fairly quickly, albeit at the cost of not showing enough of The Punisher’s murdered wife and kids, which prevents the audience from connecting deeper with Stevenson’s character and really getting behind him in his quest for vengeance and justice.

Similar to the two previous Punisher movies, this one also contains shenanigans that really stick out like a floating turd in a swimming pool.  The NYPD cars are the wrong color; the cops who show up at the house of the family of the deceased FBI agent after a tip about a possible break-in and kidnap attempt go into the house as if they’re looking for a lost cat (of course, the stupid cops get killed); and Stevenson walks around Manhattan wearing his full Punisher gear and no one notices!  Yes, it’s night time, but we are talking about Manhattan: a borough that never sleeps, with many people walking around at all hours of the day and night.  Stevenson is a wanted and famous man, and not one person notices this big dude in full body armor carrying numerous guns out in the open!  Get the hell out!

Before my mind explodes from the absurdity of how these shenanigans got through the screenwriting and editing process, let’s discuss my memorable, movie moments of “Punisher: War Zone.”  Third place goes to the scene when we first see Microchip, Punisher’s intel/weapons procurement guy.  Finally, this crucial character from the comic books is given life in the big screen!  Second place goes to the scene when West is having a meeting with Russian gangsters.  After the Russians speak among themselves in their native language, West tells them “You’re not in Transylvania anymore; we don’t talk vampire.”  Ha ha!  First place goes to the scene when Stevenson punches a hole in a gangster’s face, then blows off the face of the gangster’s father!  It was the sudden, back to back, son/father facial destruction that made my jaw drop.

I recommend this movie to any Punisher fan.  I doubt many of you will be very happy with it, but I’m confident many of you will be satisfied with “Punisher: War Zone.”  Repeating what I stated at the end of my previous post, Punisher fans must see “Daredevil” season 2 for the best version of the Punisher character ever.

— M

Grade C+

2004 gave us the second Punisher movie; not a sequel, but a fresh start.  Thomas Jane plays the title role this time.  He starts off as undercover, FBI agent Frank Castle.  During his last mission, the son of a powerful mobster is killed; and the big, bad boss (played by John Travolta) finds out the true identity of Jane, blames his son’s death on him, and sets forth a plan to destroy Jane and his entire family.  With a bit of luck and a lot of stupidity on the part of Travolta’s henchmen, Jane survives and comes back with a vengeance and a new name: “The Punisher.”

Twice I had hoped Hollywood would make a good Punisher movie, and twice I was disappointed.  Jane is a good actor and looks the part of The Punisher, so I have no problems there.  Travolta, on the other hand, was miscast as the main bad guy.  As I watched Travolta act mean and crazy and evil, I kept thinking he was going to revert to his Vinnie Barbarino role and say “Oh ma gad, the Punisher…where?”  He was unconvincing as the main villain; and every time a character is unconvincing, the audience gets taken out of the movie.

“The Punisher” also has plot holes that can’t easily be shrugged off.  Jane reveals to the world that he is still alive, which puts him at a serious disadvantage because now his enemies know who is coming after them.  Of course, Travolta finds out where Jane lives; but instead of sending out a large, assault force, one hitman is sent at a time…and one of them gives Jane a heads up that he was gunning for him!  The second hitman didn’t even bring weapons.  He was just a big brute who relied on his strength to kill The Punisher — you know, the guy with all the guns and explosives and military training to kill a small army by himself.  Adding to all this stupidity is the comedic overtones of the fight between the large hitman and Jane.  (sigh)  All these glaring mistakes I see in so many movies makes me believe that people involved in movies are mostly high on something.  Moving on.

Third place for my memorable moments of this movie is the scene when Jane’s bloodline is wiped out by Travolta’s goons.  In the comic books, it was The Punisher’s wife and kids who were killed; but in this movie, Jane was at a family reunion at the time the hit was made, so everyone there went along for the ride.

Second place goes to the dinner scene with Jane and his neighbors in a dilapidated, apartment building.  One neighbor (Rebecca Romijn) says that she’s thankful for being sober, having a job, and just being alive.  Wow, just thankful to be alive.  Next time you flip out because the airline is charging you more money to bring in your carry-on luggage, just think of all the people out there who are struggling to stay above ground.

First place among my memorable, movie moments of “The Punisher” (2004) is the punishment that Travolta receives at the end of the movie.  It was so over the top that I laughed!  Travolta’s funny way of moaning in pain combined with the silly music turned this scene into a Monty Python sketch.

Do I recommend this movie to fans of The Punisher comic books?  Mmmmm…I guess.  But only because I know that die-hard fans of comic book characters will always want to check out the movie adaptations just to see for themselves how good or bad it is.  To all the fans of The Punisher, I suggest you watch Netflix’s “Daredevil” Season 2 for a great portrayal of the man who wears the white skull on his chest.

— M

Grade C-

Dolph Lundgren plays the title role in “The Punisher,” a movie about an ex-police officer who becomes a vigilante after his family is killed by the mafia.  Donning the oh so fashionable, all black outfit that vigilantes prefer, Lundgren kills everyone who was responsible for killing his wife and two girls.  Of course, he doesn’t limit his punishment to those who directly turned his life upside down…all criminals are targets.

For those not in the know, “The Punisher” is based on a Marvel Comics character that I am very much familiar with.  I have to say I am very disappointed in this first movie adaptation of The Punisher character.  I must disclose that when I first saw this movie as a teenager, I thought it was cool…then again, I thought mullets were cool, too.  Gone is the fanboy who was just happy to see a movie about one of his favorite, comic book characters.  Now I can look at this 1989 film with a more critical eye.

The first thing I noticed was the music, and how it reminds me of something that I would hear from an action movie of the week on NBC back in the 80s.  That’s an insult, by the way.  Next thing I noticed were the action sequences that were not choreographed and executed well.  What is caught on film looks like something you would see in rehearsals.  Dolph Lundgren was a karate champion prior to becoming a movie star, but in “The Punisher” he moves like lumbering giant who always looks off balance.  Another big, negative aspect I noticed in this movie is Lundgren’s acting skills, or lack thereof.  This leads me to…

My most memorable, movie moment of “The Punisher” is the scene when Louis Gossett Jr. (playing Lundgren’s ex-partner in the police force) confronts Lundgren in his holding cell.  Lundgren’s sub-par acting ability is more pronounced when it goes up against the fine acting of Gossett Jr.  It’s like a stock, Honda Civic drag racing a Challenger Hellcat.  The difference is so shocking, viewers are forced to tell the weak party, “You have no business being here, dude.”

“The Punisher” also suffers from so many plot holes that if the movie was a ship, it would sink in two inches of water.  In the movie, people think that Lundgren the cop is dead, killed with his family.  Here’s the plot hole regarding that: Lundgren is a big brute, walking around in an outfit that looks like he bought it from an Army/Navy surplus store; he rides an extremely loud motorcycle; and he doesn’t bother to disguise his looks (doesn’t wear shades, a hat, fake moustache, etc.).  He walks and rides around in the daytime…and no one notices!  Get the hell out!

Want more?  Okay, lets talk about the dialogue.  As an example, look at the torture scene of Lundgren at the hands of the Yakuza.  Lundgren’s lines — and his delivery of them — are so atrocious that I thought it was written by a lobotomized, 14-year-old screenwriter who was high on cocaine.  This scene is so laughably bad it is one of my memorable moments of this movie.

“The Punisher” failed to live up to its potential because too many people didn’t have what it took to make this movie better.  I do find this movie entertaining, but mostly for reasons not intended by the filmmakers.

— M

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