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The Punisher
The Punisher
Actors: Dolph Lundgren, Louis Gossett Jr., Jeroen Krabbé, Kim Miyori, Bryan Marshall
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House
R     1999     1hr 29min

First, a few facts. Dolph Lundgren expresses emotions ranging from stoic to, well, really stoic. There are holes in the story large enough to pilot the Exxon Valdez through without spilling a drop. And the film is litt...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Dolph Lundgren, Louis Gossett Jr., Jeroen Krabbé, Kim Miyori, Bryan Marshall
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House
Sub-Genres: Superheroes, Dolph Lundgren, Indie & Art House
Studio: Live / Artisan
Format: DVD - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 04/20/1999
Original Release Date: 01/01/1990
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1990
Release Year: 1999
Run Time: 1hr 29min
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 1
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English

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Member Movie Reviews

Reviewed on 3/15/2023...
80's Action at it's best! Dolph Lundgren ditches the blonde locks! The ending ramps up nicely in intensity!
Jonathan F.
Reviewed on 5/31/2017...
Not high quality but a lot of fun.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Keith A. (Keefer522)
Reviewed on 8/28/2013...
When I first saw this back in the VHS days, I was a full-on Comic Book Geek, and the Punisher was one of my favorite books at the time. Back then I frickin HATED this movie, which had little to no resemblance to the comic book (The Punisher does not even wear his iconic Skull Emblem on his chest, for cryin' out loud!!!!). I'm fairly sure that when New Line Pictures got the "Punisher" license they didn't even bother to read any of the comics, they simply slapped his name on a generic action-movie script that they had stashed away in a drawer someplace.

So anyway, 20+ years later, I'm now a retired comic book geek, and I find this DVD in the bargain bin at the supermarket so I give it another shot. I figure, enough time has passed since I've read a Punisher comic that I should be far enough removed from the "source material" to enjoy the film on its own merits. And y'know what? I like this "Punisher" better now than I did back in the day.

In and of itself, "The Punisher" is actually a pretty decent B-Grade action movie. There are crazy gun battles every two minutes, martial arts battles against ninjas, some decent gore, shell casings everywhere, wall to wall violence, and occasionally ol' Dolph actually displays a few acting chops!

It still bugs me that they made "Frank Castle" into an ex-cop in this version (he was an ex-Marine in the comic), that his hideout is in the sewers (he's not a dang Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle!), and the complete and total lack of The Skull is unforgivable, but as a straight up action movie it was better than I remembered. Still a "Punisher" movie in name only, but if you can put fanboy-ism aside it's an OK flick.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Chad B. (abrnt1) from CABERY, IL
Reviewed on 3/30/2011...
This film has nothing whatsoever to do with the Marvel Comics character. It began as another movie and names were changed to make it a Punisher film. This is total crap. The 2004 Thomas Jane Punisher got it right. This version ignores about 99% of the comics in favor of being nothing but another cliched action film. Horrible beyond belief.
1 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

If society won't punish the guilty, he will.
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 06/18/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Let's face it, before Blade (1998), X-Men (2000) and Spider-Man (2002), Marvel Comics really didn't have much luck in getting successful films made based on their characters. The reason? Because they would often sell the movie rights to anyone who had two coins to rub together, releasing cinematic flops like Dr. Strange (1978), Howard the Duck (1986), Captain America (1989), and even a Fantastic Four movie that was so bad it never saw the light of day, as it was too bad to even release on video. And then there was The Punisher (1989), a character introduced in the 70's within the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man, issue 129, circa February 1974, a former police detective, now vigilante, taking revenge on criminals, motivated by the death of his family. Most people I know who've seen the film have pretty distinctive feelings about it, ranging from dislike to severe hate, but I always thought it was pretty good, considering...The film, directed by Mark Goldblatt, whose primary credits include editing films like The Howling (1981), The Terminator (1984), and True Lies (1994), stars Dolph Lundgren, Louis Gossett, Jr., and Jerome Krabbé. Yeah, I know what you're thinking...Dolph Lundgren? I think a number of people had instant reservations when hearing Dolph, certainly an interminable dweller of the B movie circuit, pre-judging the film unfairly. Lou Gossett, Jr. brings a little star power to the table, but he also is no stranger to B movie fans appearing in films like Jaws 3-D (1983), Firewalker (1986), and any of the four or so Iron Eagle films.The film opens with a television news report, giving us some expository background with regards to a mafia type recently acquitted of the crime of killing detective Frank Castle (Lungren) and his family five years prior. The report also speaks of an elusive character named the Punisher, who has been busy killing members of the mafia over the last five years, racking up an impressive body count. Any connection? Probably...anyway, the mafia guy, returns home to celebrate, and guess who crashes the party? Killing and explosions ensue. Enter Detective Jake Berkowitz (Gossett). Seems Detective Berkowitz has been leading the investigation of the Punisher for the last five years, and believes the Punisher is actually Frank Castle, despite his superior's beliefs that Castle is dead, as the thought of a rogue cop going around killing people would be unpopular. With the recent death of this mafia boss, there's a void of real leadership in the organization, one filled with the return of Gianni Franco (Krabbé) from Europe, who intends to unite the remains of the various mob families whose ranks have been severely depleted by you know who...Turns out the decimation of the mafia families hasn't gone unnoticed, as the Yakuza (Japanese mafia) has decided to move in and take a controlling interest in criminal activities within the city, a hostile takeover, to say the least. Sounds pretty to the Punisher, as if the criminals are killing themselves off, less work for him...until the Yakuza kidnaps children of the remaining mafia families in an effort to extort control and pressure them under the Yakuza's thumb. So Castle, feeling somewhat responsible as his five-year vendetta has left the families unable to protect even their own children, begins dealing with the Yakuza, which eventually leads to an unlikely alliance with Franco, who's son is one of the kidnapped children. Guns, knives, throwing stars, explosions, it's all here (well, as far as the explosions, at one point the Punisher is firing a grenade launcher, and the explosions seem less than spectacular, more flashy than boom boomy). Not only that but there's a good amount of karate. Lundgren, a former karate champion himself, performs most all of his own stunts, and there is almost no choreography within the marital arts scenes, as real artists were used, and training in stunt techniques. Does the film stay true to the original character portrayed in the comics? For the most part...some minor changes, along with a few major ones (he never dons a shirt emblazoned with a white skull on it). I think one of the main reasons this film was ill received is because comic fans are a particular picky lot, as they spend a lot of time getting to know these characters, and tend to have high expectations when someone adapts one of their favorite characters to the silver screen. I read comics from the age of 9 until I was 23, so I have intimate knowledge, or at least I did, of many characters, and I thought this particular rendition of this character retained most of the important elements. The main element I didn't care for was his living in the sewers. I brought to mind teenage mutant ninja turtles, which is an altogether different film. I did think Lundgren face makeup was overdone. I understand why it was done the way it was, to present the visage of a skull when the light hit his face just right, and it succeeded, but other times he sort of looked like a drag queen. The most painful element of the film was the dialog. I rolled my eyes more than a few times as the delineation between Frank Castle and the Punisher was examined, unsuccessfully. Some of it was extremely corny, more so combined with Lundgren's deadpan delivery. The direction was pretty good in most areas, given that this was Goldblatt's second film, his first being the Joe Piscopo/Treat Williams cop flick Dead Heat (1988). Goldblatt has since returned to editing, which seems a much better fit for him. Gossett is fun to watch, but again, given the dialog, he is given some completely rotten lines, but he does seem to try to make the best of it, earning whatever he got for appearing in this film.A nice wide screen anamorphic print here and good audio, with special features including production notes and a theatrical trailer.Cookieman108"
Better than the year 2004 version
Tim | Cambria Heights, NY United States | 09/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The 2004 version was too soft and watered down for my tastes. I didn't like it at all.

This 1989 version is how the Punisher is truely meant to be. He punishes the guilty with extreme prejudice, without hesitation and without regrets."
Great 80's Punisher movie
cookieman108 | 04/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This movie is great for what it is: an 80's Punisher movie. It's also the type of movie that seperates those who enjoy a great action movie from the more dogmatic and less fun. Take a look at the reviews on this site and you'll see what I mean. Action fans, who have read some Punsher comics and think it's a fun character, know an 80's action movie when they see one and can appreciate them for what they are: escapism. They enjoyed this movie.
You also have the flip side of the coin. These folks can't get past the Punisher's shirt, his having the wrong number or gender of kids, the wrong mobsters being the baddies, the wrong form of execution of his family (it's a car bomb in the movie), the wrong location of the execution (it's not in Central Park)...etc. and this is not a happy bunch. They aren't happy when Dolph is super-heroic and they aren't happy when he's more human and his shirt really bugs them.
Do any of these changes really get in the way of the movie being a great 80's action film. No. It's still a decent and entertaining movie, but they would disagree. "The Punisher has on the wrong shirt" is a major complaint, and "the new movie will be better" they hoped in vain. "Better" meant more true in every little detail to the book with no changes.
Now the '04 Punisher has arrived. Other than the shirt is the 2004 Punisher free of many of the "problems" that geekdom has with the '89 movie? Not really. Once again it seems the bad guy isn't exactly right in the new one, the Punisher's family isn't exactly right, and they are killed in Puerto Rico and not in Central Park...etc. and once again there will be folks that won't be happy. They are very "by the book" and the word escapism apparently is not in their book.
Is the 2004 Punisher a good movie? I think so. So is the 1989 Punisher. It is what it is: a great 80's action movie. Take it for what it is and have fun. Check out the '04 Punisher for additional fun BUT, if you demand that every single aspect of a movie be like the comic version then don't watch any movie with the title "The Punisher". Ever. The '89 version, as with the '04 version, are strictly for those of us who enjoy a little escapism in the form of a good action/adventure movie. The Punisher '89, like the '04 version, is a good action flick."