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  Publicity Stills of
"Punisher: War Zone"
(Courtesy of Columbia TriStar)

Genre: Action/Thriller/Comics
Director: Lexi Alexander
Cast: Ray Stevenson, Dominic West, Doug Hutchinson, Colin Salmon, Wayne Knight, Dash Mihok, Julie Benz, Romano Orzari, Larry Day, Mark Camacho
RunTime: 1 hr 43 mins
Released By: Columbia TriStar
Rating: M18 (Strong Violence)
Official Website: http://www.punisherwarzonemovie.com/

Opening Day: 22 January 2009


Waging his one-man war on the world of organized crime, ruthless vigilante-hero Frank Castle sets his sights on overeager mob boss Billy Russoti. After Russoti is left horribly disfigured by Castle, he sets out for vengeance under his new alias: Jigsaw. With the "Punisher Task Force" hot on his trail and the FBI unable to take Jigsaw in, Frank must stand up to the formidable army that Jigsaw has recruited before more of his evil deeds go unpunished.

Movie Review:

After two misfired attempted in bringing this character to life on the big screen, Punisher War Zone tried to reboot the franchise character once again and hoped that it would be third time lucky. There three words to describe this comeback film.

"Damn Bloody Brutal"

The manner of killing people in Punisher War Zone was so gruesome that it felt like Jigsaw (from the Saw franchise, not the villain from this movie) is the one directing this movie. Not that we are complaining as the gory sights of heads being ripped off, impaled and bullet holed felt right at home in Punisher’s world.

The no-hold barred dishing out of punishment to the guilty is part of the essence of Punisher’s popularity with comic readers and it was presented way above expectation here. From the decapitating of a mob’s head to the overkill of Parkour artist with unexpected weaponry, it just made fanboys like us turn out head in disgust and came back anticipating for more on screen brutality.

The take no prisoner approach also help differentiate Punisher from other vigilantes. It came as a surprise for certain scene as we are so used to do-gooders to round up the bad guy(s) for the police when Punisher would come and show the kick asses-ness of being a judge and executioner at the same time. There are no code of honor for dealing with these criminal in Punisher’s book and if that doesn’t fulfill fanboys’ wet dreams getting revenged against those who bullied them, I am not sure what could.

Interestingly, it’s not all about wham bam. This film actually explores Punisher’s acts of vengeance and the collateral damages he brings to innocent family members during his killing spree. It nicely ties down to Punisher’s origin and his motivation without spending too much time going through his well known loss of family members again.

Beside all the gore and drama seriousness, there were some comedic elements in Punisher War Zone that were touchy-ly funny. Particularly Jigsaw (the Punisher’s enemy in this movie)’s recruitment drive for his army against Punisher. The recruitment poked fun at USA army recruitment tactics as how they target financially needy and bait them with rewarding promises while sending them to a certain doom.

However, what weren’t funny were the two colorful villains that were supposed to add that extra flavor to Punisher’s rogue gallery. Although I am not familiar with the character Jigsaw and Looney Bin Jim, they came across as a poor man’s Joker and a deranged Jackass cast member. They tried hard but nothing that they did (except that recruitment drive bit) actually register much with the memory.

Other than not having memorable villains, the story for Punisher War Zone didn’t have a smooth narrative flow to it. Events in this movie felt like it’s being slap together hastily to allow Frank Castle to shoot them up. The pacing of this movie also felt weird, especially the recruiting of the villain solders which occurs very late in the movie. It was as though the film makers forgot to prepare this bit at the beginning or were making things up as they go along with the filming process.

Overall, Punisher War Zone makes up what they lack with the balls to portray Punisher as a bad ass with the right excessive amount of horrific slaying to bring the essence of Punisher out. Punisher War Zone had done well enough for me to look forward to the next bit but it’s sad to say that it didn’t do that well in the states box office so having another kick ass sequel might be unlikely.

Movie Rating:

(So Brutally Gory that Punisher War Zone makes the previous Punishers looked like Pussy)

Review by Richard Lim Jr


. The Spirit (2008)

. Max Payne (2008)

. Doomsday (2008)

. The Dark Knight (2008)

. Rambo 4 (2008)

. Die Hard 4 (2007)

. Planet Terror (2007)

. Sin City (2005)


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