Just Pillow Talk v Marvel Comics 10. The Punisher

This was clearly not meant to be like this, but I’m killing time before going to see New Year’s Eve (I’d rather get caught breaking into Frank Castle’s house than do this) and as he’s sent both Punisher reviews in, we can double the punishment in one big, fat orgy of ass kickery. Well, half of one.

I actually like both of these films, for my sins, especially War Zone, but I do wonder why it is so hard to adapt The Punisher properly. I mean, it’s basically Death Wish, as far as I understand: 1 big bastard cleans up the streets. How can this group of Marvel adapters possibly fuck this one up…

The Punisher (2004)

There are times when Netflix just lets me down. Sadly, they do not have Dolph’s version which for some unfathomable reason I have never seen. I can only imagine the genius and stupidity at work there. With that in mind, I only have two Punisher movies to review. The first has Thomas Jane in the title role of Frank Castle. The story opens with Frank undercover for the FBI where a thug gets shot up. It turns out that the thug is Howard Saint’s (John Travolta) son, who’s a big time bad guy. Well, the Saint family isn’t having Saintly thoughts about Frankie boy once they discover who he is, and Mrs. Saint tells their #1 guy Glass (Will Patton) to wipe out Frank’s entire family, who are down in Puerto Rico for a family reunion. Suffice to say, his whole family is wiped out…mom, dad, wife, son, the cousin that no one talks to because they are just not right in the head. Even being shot multiple times, including once point blank in the chest and being blown up into the water, Frankie survives.

Frank manages to survive with the help of some boat guy or other. Frank goes back to the house where the attack took place and recovers some guns hidden. After deciding to go on his own, the boat dude and him have the following exchange, when does produce a nice line from Frankie:

“Go with God.”

“God is going to sit this one out.”

Frankie does some plotting, setting up Glass to make it look like he’s cheating with Howard Saint’s wife (Glass is gay). Howard ends up killing Glass and his wife, which is a lot cheaper and quicker than say marriage counseling or some other nonsense. Everyone dies, some rather entertainingly, and Frank gets his revenge.

Now, the storyline, acting, are all rather average, but it would have been an ‘okay’ film if they did just that. But no, they had to have Frank Castle move into a run down apartment building with Rebecca Romijn, Ben Foster, and some fat dude who I forget his name. It’s completely unnecessary and worthless. I do not give a shit about any of these people, nor do we need them to “humanize” Frank Castle. Sorry, but from what I remember of the Punisher, he’s a cold hearted bastard who is relentless in his pursuit and extermination of vermin. It slows down the movie and takes away from Frankie. Totally knocks the movie’s rating down.

What was good? Not until Frank faces off with the Russian assassin did it entertain me. Frank is clearly over matched, but tries a variety of weapons (whatever he can get his hands on in his apartment) to try and take down the Russian. Alas, the whole movie is not like this. The final battle is okay, but the movie missed a great villain. Travolta really wasn’t in it that much, or so it seemed, and he dialed it back. Will Patton did nothing but kiss a guy and torture Ben Foster. Thomas Jane was okay, nothing great, but he did what the material called for.

If not for the fight with the Russian, I think this movie would be a zero. It’s just so not fun nor does it succeed as a drama because I could give two shits about the characters. No impact when his family is gunned down. So the question is: is it better to show how Frank Castle became the Punisher or pick up where he is already established as the Punisher? I’m thinking the latter.

(I included this pic because it showed up in my Punisher search and made me laugh)

What I did get a kick out of was at the end when Frank is facing off with Howard. This is after Frank has left some C4 with Saint’s other son in the house, and Howard screams to Frank:

“You killed my son.”

BOOM

“Both of them.”

Or when Frank is leaving the apartment and tells Mystique he’s got stuff to do and that she’ll hear about it. How she asks?

“Read the paper.”

“Which section?”

“The obituaries.”

See, a movie named the Punisher should have shit like that strung throughout.

I give this 1 Rex “Fat Head” Ryans out of 4.

Fire this fat fucker.

Punisher: War Zone (2008)

After watching Thomas Jane’s Punisher, I took a swing at Ray Stevenson’s Punisher.  Alas, Netflix decided to throw a monkey wrench into my viewing and have it lock up on me several times, so I was unable to view it all the way through.  In this version the Punisher has already been punishing the criminal world for 5 years, he has a gun supplier (Micro – Wayne Knight), and the cops give him a wide berth to eliminate the scum of the city.  I like this approach better than another origin story.

The basis of this movie is the Punisher goes after yet another mob family and wipes them all out, all except Billy (Dominic West) who he really tries to kill by throwing him into a bottle crusher.  Billy gets a little makeover, courtesy of some glass cutting his face up, and becomes Jigsaw.  While the Punisher is shooting up all the bad guys, he inadvertently kills a fed undercover agent.  This shakes Frank Castle deeply, and he questions whether he should go on his merry way of shooting all things bad, especially since the agent left a wife (Julie Benz) and daughter.  Micro convinces him to continue since Jigsaw will be looking for revenge and go after the dead agent’s family.  This ends up leading to a head-on collision between the Punisher and Jigsaw, though not before Jigsaw frees his crazy brother Loony Bin Jim (Doug Hutchinson) from the psychiatric ward.

The Punisher goes on a shooting spree, killing all sorts of bad guys along the way, and save the agent’s family from the clutches of Jigsaw.  While I liked Thomas Jane as the Punisher, particularly in an origin type story, I prefer Ray Stevenson’s version.  He’s a killing machine, relentless and cold-hearted, and completely believable as someone who could snap people in half.  I may be partially influenced by his performance in Kill the Irishman, which was a movie I quite liked and a performance that I quite liked.  Here, he’s more or less wiping out everything in his path and doesn’t have much to work with in his performance.  There are only a couple brief scenes where we get to see the Punisher show regret from killing the agent or sharing his thoughts with Micro.

Wayne Knight is effective enough as someone who aids the Punisher in his endeavors by providing him with his firepower, which with the aid of a reformed Latin King, comes directly from the streets.    Dominic West, who was okay in Centurion, more or less blows here.  At times he’s okay hamming it up, but other times pretty bad.  Doug Hutchinson definitely enjoyed himself here, being a complete psycho, and going toe-to-toe with Ray Stevenson, but his shtick gets old quick.  The supporting cast is rounded out by detective Soap (Dash Mihok) who has been tracking the Punisher since the beginning, and the dead agent’s former partner Budiansky (Colin Salmon).  Neither adds anything to the story, though I did get a comic book feel to the Soap character since he’s limited to the basement surrounded by shelves of case information on the Punisher.

It is a very bloody, shoot-em-up flick, with a very high body count, and one hysterical killing by the Punisher. There are three dudes who are runners for the mob, and go hopping around building tops.  Well, Frank tracks them down and in the middle of one of their jumps he blows one of them up with a bazooka (I think).  It’s quite funny.   Some of it was completely unnecessary, like when Loony Bin Jim eats the orderly that was assigned to him.  However, all in all, I rather enjoyed this version, a bit more than Jane’s.  I’ll give it 2 Julie Benz’s out of 4.

Pillow out

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

46 responses to “Just Pillow Talk v Marvel Comics 10. The Punisher”

  1. Jarv says :

    I like both of these, to be honest.

    Particularly War Zone. The Patton riff towards the end really makes me laugh.

  2. Xiphos0311 says :

    I’m on the other side of this I connected with the TJ version much more then then the Titus Pullo version. Probably becasue I had just recently read the first Marvel Knight imprint of Punisher which about 80% of the TJ movie was based on. Plus it gets props for having a bow in in it.

    On the other hand I was let down by Titus Pullo’s version since I like him. I was pretty much bored throughout it and thought the action wasn’t staged very well.

  3. Continentalop says :

    Well since I’m a curmudgeon I’ll say I didn’t like either of these movies (didn’t like Dolph’s version as well). The best Punisher movie is still the Exterminator.

    But I actually don’t think the Punisher makes a good lead in a movie. I think he’d be better as a anti-hero villain in a Daredevil movie or something.

    • Xiphos0311 says :

      I always thoguht Bronson’s Death Wish did a good take on The Punisher. So did Mr. Majestyk although I think they came out around the same time. Also I’m going to plug my acting debut and say Billy Jack( Born Losers also) was a decent take on the concept becasue they came out way before The Punisher.

      • Continentalop says :

        Well the Punisher was pretty much just a rip off of Mack Bolan, so I can’t really accuse any movies of ripping him off.

        BTW what was it about the 70s & early 80s that let them make so many good vigilante movies?

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        Probably because crime was out of control in Hell A and NYC.

      • Continentalop says :

        Yeah but the crack epidemic really didn’t hit until the mid 80s through the early 90s and I think that was when murder & crime was at its peak, but very few good vigilante during that time. You’d think at least some good vigilante movies would have popped up.

        Harry Brown is the last good vigilante movie I can remember, and that was British.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        the 70’s had nothing to do with crack(but it did make it easier to accept the crack monster when he hit the streets) and had everything to do with how crime was perceived, that was via TV. Most people they saw images of a world gone mad and out of control. Serial killers, malignant hippies, rampaging Negroes, Bikers and streets gang. It was quite a departure from the 50’s/60’s view of the world where crime and criminals made sense. It doesn’t matter that in reality things weren’t that much different then earlier times except that now it was being broadcast live into your living room at dinner. Same thing with war.

        As to why there aren’t any vigilanty films today, that’s simple, everybody in Hollywood are motherfucking pussy sob sisters sporting wide gaping vaginas. Well the manicured spa attending gentle”men” are taht way. Most those broads that work in Hollywood are stone cold life takers.

      • Continentalop says :

        everybody in Hollywood are motherfucking pussy sob sisters sporting wide gaping vaginas.

        Thanks. I guess I should get that surgery to repair my vagina.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        I’m willing to allow that you aren’t a complete pussy like a majority of your contemporaries in Hell A..

    • Continentalop says :

      Gee, thanks for the “compliment.”

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        you’re welcome I’ve been working on negs.

      • Continentalop says :

        Working on negs? Did you just re-read the Game?

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        No we had a discussion about it at dinner last night. A couple of the kids think its works and tried a couple on a female lance coolie until one of the chick line dog NCO tore into them for it. For about 5 minutes it was like watching a cat toy with two slightly reatrded mouses.

      • Continentalop says :

        Negs work when it’s called playful teasing. The PUA guys always seem to take it to far and make it into asshole insults.

        I used to hang with this guy who was totally into all that pick up stuff. He’d be doing good until he threw in one neg too many. Didn’t have a filter – or common sense.

      • Droid says :

        The Game. What a load of shit that book is. Not the actual pick up artist process or whatever they call it, the “negs”, I don’t really care about that. It seems like a lot of hard work for very little gain. Spending night after night in a bar or a club trying to “work” women so that they sleep with you is the epitome of sad and pathetic. No, scratch that. The epitome of sad and pathetic is the self-promoting braggart who wrote a book about it, claiming himself to be a centred, considerate, rational individual when it’s plainly obvious that he’s a delusional, lying, two-faced, back-stabbing, manipulative scumbag weasel.

      • koutchboom says :

        I thought The Game was actually an interesting read. I like that author though. He pretty much admits that the whole endevour was a fruitless waste of time. WHAT I think is funny is guys that swear on that back like it is some rule book? It’s a fucking story about how being that sort of asshat can get you laid.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        the two dummies thought they were PUA. They were very wrong and teh chick NCO made that very obvious.

      • Continentalop says :

        I really have no problem with guys wanting to learn how to pick up women. I’m a big advocate for self-improvement and if people want to get better at meeting women, more power to them.

        However, I do have a problem with guys into PUA stuff because that seems to be all they care about. It seems to become an obsession. I think you’d rather want to be someone who lives an interesting life who women would find attractive than someone who puts up a front for an hour at a club in hopes of getting into a woman’s pants.

        Pretending to be James Bond doesn’t get you laid – being James Bond gets you laid.

      • Droid says :

        Being comfortable and confident talking to women is one thing. Going out to a club 7 nights in a row where you repeat the same routine over and over to “perfect” it is pathetic. The whole thing has nothing to do with meeting women. It’s all about the process.

      • Droid says :

        Instead of becoming a robot with an automated series of responses, use that time and energy to become an interesting person by pursuing hobbies and interests. Then when you aproach a woman, you can actually talk to her.

      • Jarv says :

        What the hell is PUA, negs and so forth?

        Because in ignorance, I think I agree with Droid. It’s all very Rachel Papers.

      • Droid says :

        PUA is Pick Up Artist. Negs is saying something negative about a woman. It’s meant to be teasing, back handed compliments, that kind of thing. Not direct insults. It’s all part of the treat em mean keep em keen philosophy.

      • Jarv says :

        What bullshit.

      • Droid says :

        It’s actually pretty fucking nasty business. Because what it essentially is, is a targeted psychological attack. The PUA is chipping away at a woman’s confidence. You layer in these back handed compliments, she becomes self-conscious, thinks less of herself. If you do it enough maybe she’ll be broken enough to let you fuck her.

      • Jarv says :

        Vile.

        I can understand using a prepared line of you lack confidence and whatnot, but there’s no need for shattering someone’s confidence until they sleep with you out of sheer fucking gratitude.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        PUA=Pick Up Artist

        Negs is short for negative as in a back handed compliment/insult. Like you tell a chick she has nice roots why do you dye your hair. Or nice nails are they real? etc

        Don’t know what The Rachel Papers are.

      • Jarv says :

        RP was Martin Amis’ first book. The central character has a ludicrously elaborate and rehearsed to perfection way of picking up women.

      • Droid says :

        The central character has a ludicrously elaborate and rehearsed to perfection way of picking up women.

        Read the game. The whole thing is about idiotic rehearsed processes.

      • Jarv says :

        No need. I’m married, and also I quite like women so don’t see any reason to be a dick to them.

      • Droid says :

        I read the book when I was in a relationship. It’s not really a how to guide, although he describes some of the methods. It’s more about how he “became the worlds best PUA”. He’s a complete fuckhead.

      • Continentalop says :

        I guess I should have said I like the concept, not really how it is practiced.

        I can understand giving an incredibly shy person who has never talked to a girl a script and some lines – hell, I rip off from movies and books all the time – but to have them wear fuzzy hats and do palm reading is just cheesy and being incongruent with whom you’re really are.

      • Continentalop says :

        I thought the idea of the neg was to show you’re not intimidated by here and are so secure around women that you’re willing not to kiss their ass all the time.

        I might have to re-read the Game. I might have totally gotten what they do wrong.

      • Droid says :

        That’s the PR he tries to sell. He basically makes women the enemy. The book is targeted at guys who are shy and are intimidated by women, but the methods of improving your confidence it proposes just makes them into automatons. They’re still shy and intimidated, but they come supplied with automated responses for a given situation. It’s not self-improvement. It’s actually self-defeating.

      • Continentalop says :

        I don’t mind the idea of pre planned a mesmerized responses – that’s called tactics – but yeah I know what you mean. They’re memorizing someone’s else’s material and lines.

        It is the incongruency that I really can’t stand. That and the fact they really aren’t fixing the reason they can’t meet women, which is just a symptom of what is wrong with them.

  4. Droid says :

    I actually kinda hated the TJ one. And the russian fight was the low point. It would’ve been fine if they didn’t put wacky funniest home video comedy music on the soundtrack.

    I quite enjoyed the Stevenson one though. It’s gloriously OTT. It was reasonably fun.

  5. tombando says :

    Never saw either one. Saw something called ‘Ruckus’ from ’83 w/ Dirk Benedict , GD Spradlin (I think?) and Linda Blair. Basic Rambo-lite type thing set in ‘Bama. It had it’s moments….

  6. ThereWolf says :

    Not seen any ‘Punisher’ movie. Might do now though. I like Jane-face and the Stevenson one sounds like a riot, plus I thought he was good in ‘Outpost’.

  7. The Thorn says :

    And yet they’re both superior to the Lundgren version, if you can imagine THAT! oO

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