Friday, December 5, 2008

Punisher: War Zone

Genre - Comic Book/Action Adventure
Year Released - 2008
Running Time - 107 minutes
Rated R (for strong brutal violence, language, and drug use)
Directed by Lexi Alexander (who, if you follow Martial Arts at all, is a World Record Kickboxer & Karate Champion - she also wrote & directed Green Street Hooligans - with Elijah Wood & Claire Forlani - I have never seen it, but it is in my Netflix Queue)
Written by Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, (both of whom also co-wrote Iron Man) and Nick Santora
Cast Includes:
Ray Stevenson (who played Titus in HBO's Rome)
Dominic West (who played Theron in 300 and Kirk - the guitarist - from Rock Star)
Doug Hutchison (Tooms from the X-Files! He was also in The Green Mile)
Wayne Knight (Newman from Seinfeld, Officer Don from 3rd Rock from the Sun)
Julie Benz (Rita - the girlfriend of Dexter, Darla from Buffy & Angel, Sarah in Rambo - she is also going to be in next year's sequel to Boondock Saints)
Colin Salmon (David from HEX - he is also in The Bank Job)

Rating: 5 Skulls

If you look in the top left corner, of the above poster, you will notice Thomas Jane - before he left the production. . . :-)

Plot Summary:
Frank Castle, a one-man force of vengeance known as "the Punisher", battles mob boss Billy Russoti. Left disfigured by the encounter, Russoti reemerges as Jigsaw, a psychotic villain with a small army at his command.
Too bad for Jigsaw, that the Punisher is preparing to annihilate him and his reign of terror, armed with a cache of high tech new weaponry by the handy Microchip.

This is not Tobin Bell from SAW
I need to start off by saying that I probably should have rated this movie much lower, however as a long-time fan of the Punisher [he is one of my all-time favorites!] I just couldn't help myself.
[My rating system, after all, is that this movie is well worth buying - to me - and I will watch it repeatedly]

I happen to be [one of the few?] who enjoy the 1989 version, with Dolph Lundgren, [I own it on VHS] and I loved the 2004 version with Thomas Jane.
[I do not know the full story of why Jane left this one, mid-way into production - my understanding is something to do with script discrepancies]

In all honesty, I didn't start off liking this one, very much, but after a while it started to grow on me.
Basically, the director - Alexander - stripped the comic character down to it's core and provided us with vengeance, pure and simple.
In the comics, you can understand where Frank is coming from - in the film though, that line becomes very blurred - Frank is just on a bloody rampage throughout this film! [though at one point he does question]

One thing that I really liked about this version, is the fact that this it stayed true to the comics, in regards to what happened with Frank's family [something the 2004 version failed to do]
I also loved the fact that Microchip was in this one! [Wayne Knight is the perfect Micro!]
I do not recall the Martin Soap character [he was the head of the Punisher Task Force, but I liked him as well.
Another thing that was very cool, was when Jigsaw 'became' Jigsaw - he put a three-dimensional puzzle together, on his computer, and at the bottom it stated "The World is Yours" ~ ala Scarface!

Two of my favorite scenes are 1. when the Punisher shows up on the roof top, where three meth addicts are bouncing around... and 2. when Agent Budiansky starts to call for back-up... these are laugh out loud moments - whether or not they are supposed to be, I am not sure. There is so much over-the-top action/violence in this film, that it really can't be taken seriously, however that is also part of the FUN!

Something else that I found interesting was the fact that it was hinted that Frank had previously attended seminary - he, obviously, has come a long, far way since those days!

Here's the Trailer:

Just keep in mind that this film is extremely violent! [I am still amazed that it was directed by a female] :-)
However, if you enjoy head explosions, stabbings to the face, etc, etc, then this film is a must see! [preferably in the theatre, with intense surround sound, which makes the experience of all of the explosions, gunfire, and the metal soundtrack all the more enjoyable - speaking of which, Rob Zombie wrote a new song for the film, which I did not know, until the credits rolled!]




Bobby said...

I grew up loving the Punisher and I really enjoyed the first two flicks for differing reasons. This time it sounds like they finally got it right.

By the way the Soap character was a creation of Garth Ennis when he and Steve Dillon (the creators of my all-time fave comic PREACHER) did an adult-oriented Punisher title back in the early 2000's.

Great review.

FXguy said...


Okay, I was going to go into a diatribe about Soap, but Bobby beat me to the punch (Ennis rawks!).

Anyway, didn't we see the original at the Treasure Coast Mall together? Wait (damn '90s), that was with Andy (I think). I had the unrated version on VHS, with the shurikens going through the hands...

I cannot imagine Thomas Jane turning this down, but Wow! Wayne Knight playing Microchip? He was born for the role...

Looks like they finally got a Punisher movie right!

Sorry, still depressed over the death of Forrest J. Ackerman...


movie fan said...

too bad they didn't bring back Thomas Jane to be Frank Castle again

thebonebreaker said...


This movie must be based off of Ennis' writings then, as it is definitely for adults only
[because of the insane violence] :-)

Thanks for the clarification about Soap! [the early 2000's is when my collecting began to dwindle]


thebonebreaker said...


It must have been with Andy, as I do not recall seeing the original in the theatre :-(

I would like to know the official story regarding Jane - I did read another review where they called this Punsiher the "Showgirls" of comic book movies...?!? so, perhaps Jane just didn't feel right about it. As for Wayne Knight - he IS Micro! :-)

I had a busy weekend - I had not yet heard the news about Ackerman - he will be missed!


thebonebreaker said...

Movie Fan,

While I loved Jane in the last Punisher film, no worries - Ray Stevenson plays THIS Punsiher very well. . .


when is evil cool? said...

nice review. good to hear there is some face stabbing.

i'm going this week hopefully. been a little hectic lately.

thebonebreaker said...

hahaha ~ I hear ya Evil!

Let me know what you thought of the movie, after you have seen it.


Anonymous said...

I really want to see this. I'm a little hesitant, but I'm a huge Punisher fan (especially the Garth Ennis run and the original War Journal and War Zone spin-off books) I'll definitely give it a shot. Great review! Kudos.

thebonebreaker said...

Thanks William!

If you are a fan (particularly of those that you mentioned) then you must go ahead and see it, without any hesitation :-)


On Dark Wings said...

One I'll definitely be looking for. Thanks for posting. Btw, great blog.

thebonebreaker said...

My Pleasure Dark Wings and Thanks! :-)


Lisa Bee said...

Cool review. I wasn't sure if I should check this out but now I think I'll give it a shot. And hey, female directors can get really gory too. Look at what Kathryn Bigelow got away with. :-)

thebonebreaker said...

Thanks Lisa and you are right ~ Katherine Bigelow made Point Break, one of my favorite films!


Brad said...

I have to say Stevenson > Jane.

I was reading (can't for the life of me remember where) that Jane turned down the project because he wanted to turn Frank into a character like Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver. He wanted to go completely away from the comic book stories and basically have them revolve around the loneliness of the Punisher. Obviously not the way ya want to go.

Let's hope for another entry in the war journal soon!

thebonebreaker said...


If that is the case with Jane, then Marvel made the right decision. . .

I'm all for another War Journal entry! ;-)