Ex-Special Forces officer Frank Castle is back with all the guns blazing as The Punisher, this time waging a one man war on two fronts. While targeting the vicious mob boss, Billy Russoti, Castle horribly disfigures the gangster in a firefight that also claims the life of an undercover FBI agent. Seeking terrible vengeance, Russoti takes the name "Jigsaw" and begins recruiting the underworld's most notorious criminals while the Feds form an anti vigilante Strike Force. Now The Punisher must find a way to elude the law and decimate Jigsaw's deadly crime army in this adrenaline-packed action thriller.
Let me put you out of my misery - Frank Castle
I feel sad and befuddled at the same time that this latest adaptation of Marvel’s Punisher to the big screen wasn’t that well-received with audience. Punisher: War Zone seems like godsend material to long-time Punisher fans comparing to the cheaply made 1988 version that starred Dolph Lundgren and the 1994 version with Thomas Jane and John Travolta which had its obvious glittering faults.
Newcomer director Lexi Alexander, a former World Karate and kickboxing champion (a gutsy lady I would say) directs a cast of relatively unknowns including Ray Stevenson (Punisher aka Frank Castle) and Dominic West (Jigsaw) as the leads in this kick-ass vengeance movie that is true to the original comic’s style.
After witnessing a mob execution, former Special Forces instructor Frank Castle’s family is killed in a silence attempt by the mob (which is briefly shown in flashbacks), Castle turns into a one-man killing machine taking out the mafia mobs and virtually any other bad guys on the streets. On one of his regular outings as the Punisher, Castle deformed an up-and-coming rising mobster Billy Russoti. Enlisting the help of his mental brother, Looney Bin Jim (Doug Hutchison), Russoti who is now known as 'Jigsaw' is bent on getting his hands on the vigilant. This is not exactly Oscar-worthy material Alexander is dealing with and boy we glad she knows it.
Within minutes of the opening credits, we are treated to a massive massacre of a mobster family. Head is chopped off, a chair leg in the eye, close-up bloody gunshots and many other grisly killings that is strictly not for the faint heartened. The Punisher takes no prisoners and this sequence setup the tone and mood for the rest of this 103 minutes movie. No doubt some of the killings are more laugh-inducing than stomach churning but Punisher: War Zone only serves to entertain the boy-man demographic and the comic fans which I felt justly so.
If Thomas Jane has stayed on for this Lionsgate sequel, we wouldn’t have the chance to admire Ray Stevenson’s outstanding performance here. This man smells, talks and move like the Punisher, he simply embodies the spirit of the anti-hero. West and Hutchison provide some over-the-top performances as the movie’s villains. You want to know why they are so bad and unscrupulous because if you fall into their hands even harmless dementia old folk are not spared. A disfigured mobster plus an asylum escapee. You expect nothing less, do you?
This third adaptation of Punisher surprisingly accomplishes what other Marvel adaptations liked Daredevil and Ghost Rider failed (ironically earned tonnes of money in the end of their run) but of course lacks the depth and consistency of the Spiderman trilogy. It’s a hardcore action extravaganza pitting hero against villain. John Woo will be proud of the amazing array of firearms displayed while the body count, ammunition expended makes Michael Bay’s Bad Boys look like a tame Hello Kitty.
We haven’t seen a good old popcorn munching action flick for a while (last being Rambo IV perhaps) and Punisher: War Zone is the perfect slot for it.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
The Making of Punisher: War Zone – A standard nine minutes feature that covers interviews with the cast and crew. Those who prefer not to be spoil might want to skip this and go straight to the movie as it includes snippets of the movie’s gratuitous violence as well.
Training for the Punisher – Ray Stevenson has to go through some intense mixed martial arts training and tough weaponry training to prepare for his role as shown here.
Weapons for the Punisher – The various weapons used in the movie are briefly introduced in this 4 minutes feature.
Meet Jigsaw – The gruesome makeup effects used on Dominic West aka Jigsaw is highlighted in this section.
Creating the Look of Punisher: War Zone - Director Lexi Alexander and the director of photography talks about the different colours scheme and lighting used in the movie.
Trailers – Include trailers for Quarantine, Lakeview Terrace, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans and Terminator Salvation.
A BD-Live feature that allows you to go direct to Sony Home Entertainment website for additional Sony’s movies content (although not related to Punisher: War Zone) is included in this Blu-ray disc.
The visual of Punisher: War Zone Blu-ray DVD is excellent with nice levels of black and shades of red and green. The colours are sharp and vivid and those close-up shots of blood spurting are a good example of it.
For those looking for some True HD Dolby Digital sound look no further as the audio presented is perfect reference quality with plenty of ammunition to expend through the surround. AK47, shotguns and handguns make perfect listening experience. Overall a well balance mix. Dialogue is clear even for those quieter scenes.
by Linus Tee