Friday, August 16, 2013

Rare Flix: The Punisher

It all goes back to...Australia?  Today's film is The Punisher, one of the first Marvel films made for Theaters.  Unfortunately, fate would intervene and it would be released in everywhere EXCEPT America (and Sweden).  It all comes down to the people behind getting the film released having some money woes.  So where do we begin?  The Punisher is a dark, anti-hero who debuted in 1974 in a Spider-Man comic.  In the 1980s, a wave of darker, edgier films and comics were gaining popularity.  As such, Punisher got his own book and would continue to be a popular character for the next decade or so.  This would lead to New World Pictures producing this 1989 vehicle for Dolph Lundgren.  Rocky IV made him a star and this was one of the many films made to showcase him.  Most of these films were not, well, good.  I'm looking at you, Masters of the Universe!  Let's give this film a fair shot though.  The Punisher is waging a one-man war on crime and he runs afoul of a major family.  Unfortunately for said family, they run afoul of *another* group of criminals.  Who will win?  Who will die?  Just how many people will The Punisher kill?  To find out, read on...
The Punisher has been waging a one-man war on crime.  In spite of that, nobody knows his name or what he looks like.
Well, based on this appearance- after he just killed a house full of mobsters-, I'd say that he looks like some sort of giant Zombie or Frankenstein's Monster.
As Punisher prepares to stop a big drug deal, some mysterious fellows show up with a mission of their own.

It turns out that they're Yakuza, who decided to move in and take a cut of the action.  A 75% cut, mind you.
Punisher's informant is this weird old man who loves Shakespeare.  He doesn't add much, but he's a nice splash of 'color' in an otherwise dark and dreary film.
Punisher lays the smack down on a bunch of thugs, killing dozens.  He's taken out by the Yakuza and tortured.

As a bonus, they have captured the children of the mob bosses and plan to sell them into slavery AFTER they get the ransom paid.  Dicks.
After chasing him for 80% of the movie, Punisher's old partner- Louis Gossett Jr.- finds him.  He finds out that one of the kids is still in captivity and that our hero needs to help him.

I love how Dolph looks like a Greaser Zombie here.  It's the sequel to Rockabilly Vampire that nobody requested.
In an interesting turn, Punisher and the lone mob boss team up to take out the Yakuza & rescue the kid.  Their plan- lots of shooting.
When all is said and done, the pair fight to death again.  This leaves the guy's son in an awkward position: help my dad or the guy who's saved me twice.  Tough call- especially when you're in Middle School!
In the End, the Police arrive right after everything has gone down and Punisher somehow escapes...from the roof.  Sure- why not?  The End.
Honestly, it doesn't suck.  I spent $6 on the film- thanks, Moviestop!- mostly because it is nearly impossible to find as a Rental.  I'm pretty sure that there's only been the one DVD release, as even the IMDB page uses the DVD Box Art as the 'poster.'  Sad.  To be honest with you, it's a pretty good movie.  Don't get me wrong- it's not Othello.  A good third of the film is just people being shot, stabbed or blown up.  Sometimes it doesn't even make a lot of sense.  A small, spiked ball to the throat would hurt like hell, but I don't think that it would be instant death.  IMDB says that there are 91 on-screen deaths here (not counting explosions).  That seems a little low to me.  In spite of that, they don't 'sugar-coat' any of this.  Punisher looks like a guy who never sleeps and stays up all night planning how to kill bad guys.  The action is rough and it looks like something really brutal.  The film doesn't glorify violence at all, despite seeming to revel in it for 90 minutes.  Plus, it's actually got a neat story to it overall.  If you can find a copy, check it out.  It's a bit lower than the 2004 Punisher film, while proving to be a close second in crazy fun to the 2008 film.  Marvel really dropped the ball by not giving us a 2012 Reboot, huh?  No, the Short film that Jane made in 2012 doesn't count (I think).  I'll leave you with this crystal-clear reminder that this film was made in the '80s...

Next up, a Full Moon review about 18 months in the making.  This all-ages film was not worth nearly this amount of time.  Stay


  1. Nice! Love this movie seen it for sure 15 times. Glad that someone else seem to appreciate it also. Per

  2. The body count in this movie is pretty spectacular. Granted none of the deaths look all that gruesome, but still... SO MANY KILLS.