The Punisher (1989)

DVD Cover (Artisan)
Genres / Traits: Action, Action Thriller, Superhero Film, Marvel Comics
Based on the Marvel Comic, Dolph Lundgren is Frank Castle an ex-cop who lives in the sewers and acts as judge, jury, and executioner to the city's criminals in retaliation for the unpunished murders of his wife and kids. Frank's ex-partner Jake finally catches up with the vigilante as he tries to stop the Japanese mob, which is trying to take over the city's mafia operation. --IMDb
Mark Goldblatt Mark Goldblatt
Dolph Lundgren Dolph Lundgren
Louis Gossett Jr. Louis Gossett Jr.
Jeroen Krabbé Jeroen Krabbé
Kim Miyori Kim Miyori
Bryan Marshall Bryan Marshall
Movie Connections:
Marvel: The Punisher
> The Punisher (1989)
> The Punisher (2004)
> Punisher: War Zone (2008)
> The Punisher: Dirty Laundry (2012)
> Deadpool XXX: A Porn Parody (2015)
> The Punisher: Season 1 (2017)
> The Finisher: A DP XXX Parody (2018)
> Deadpool XXX: An Axel Braun Parody (2018)
> The Punisher: Season 2 (2019)
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6.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: April 14, 2004
Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, saw his family killed in a car-bombing incident five years ago. Now, he seeks out revenge on the guilty, hence the Punisher title. Over the last five years, he's racked up a hundred and twenty-five kills, which is making the mob pretty weak at this point. Therefore, the various mob families decide to team up and run as one unit. Plans are in place, everything is going swell, but then, the Yakuza (Japanese mafia) step into the picture and try to take over this new cohesive family. Things don't go too swell there, either, so the two gangs are killing each other off, and Frank is just going to sit back and wait it all out. However, when the Yakuza kidnap the children of the mafia bosses, he has to make a decision; let the innocent die to spite the guilty, or help the guilty to save the innocent?

Very excellent action movie here, one of the best comic-to-movie adaptations I've seen. With the exception of one thing, which I'll touch on later in this review, the Punisher was displayed quite true-to-form here... a bad-ass killing machine. Thankfully, they didn't Hollywood'ize this project and throw in tons of one-liners and a sympathetic character, no sir.... I do believe Frank had all of one comedic line, otherwise, he was all business. Sympathetic? Nope again, he has no problems killing anyone, be it gangsters or... well, won't spoil that part.

So, what's this about not staying completely true-to-form? The Punisher logo is nowhere to be found here, except a small skull on the knives he carries. Having the trademark shirt would have been quite simple, and made this an almost perfect translation from print to film; alas, it wasn't to be had. Such a minor gripe, it would seem, but it does matter to us comic geeks.

I read a few other reviews of this, and they say Dolph (the guy who plays Punisher) is too unconvincing in his role; I disagree. Sure, he's quite stoic, but that's true to the comic, so it works out perfectly. The action scenes are played out marvelously; nothing too over the top, but quite effective. We have the obligatory car-chase scenes, Punisher taking out a good number of gangsters in one setting, and tons of variations on the kills. However, all through this, they don't make him out to be invincible, as do so many other movies. Very nicely done throughout.

Overall, if you're a fan of the Punisher comic, or just dig great action flicks, check this one out. 8/10.
Clarence Bodicker #1: Clarence Bodicker - added 07/30/2004, 02:06 AM
Aside from a few minor deffects, great movie.
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