Just Pillow Talk v Marvel Comics 10 part 2: The Punisher
He thought he’d got away with it, but total bastards always get punished…
I admit freely to quite liking the two more recent punisher movies, but if I’m entirely honest, I think that the Jane version isn’t particularly good, and suffers from an absolutely terrible villain. The best version of the Punisher is probably the 1980’s schlock-fest The Exterminator. Anyway, sitting here, like a Knowles in the Room, is the Dolph Lundgren version of Punisher. Which is, from all accounts, terrible. The only question is whether it’s a light spanking type of punishment or something more akin to being stuffed in an Iron Maiden for him…
The Punisher (1989)
So it’s been a while since I’ve tackled a Marvel movie, and this time out I complete the Punisher trilogy, so to speak, with Dolph in the lead role of Frank Castle. Luckily for me (not really), by switching from Netflix to Blockbuster, I can now view this gem of a movie. (Sidenote: Split Second and Humanoids from the Deep are available via Blockbuster, Netflix did not have either of them) This was the first of the attempts at bringing the Punisher to the big screen, and while the following two attempts with Ray Stevenson and Thomas Jane had varying pieces that worked, this one does not. But before I get too far ahead of myself, here’s a quick summary of what this version is about.
Much like Stevenson’s, Dolph’s is not an origin story. His family has already been murdered, five years ago, and he’s been on a rampage killing all those who are guilty. As the movie likes to remind us numerous times, he’s killed 125 bad guys over those five years. Twenty-five a year. Not bad, I’m sure as a rookie dishing out vengeance, he only killed probably ten, maybe a dozen bad guys. He’s definitely picked up the pace after improving his off-season workout. This has really crimped the mob, which brings back Gianni Franco (Jeroen Krabbe) to come back from wherever and try to bring together all the mob families under one happy roof and then obliterate the Punisher. Unfortunately for the mob, the Yakuza, led by Lady Tanaka (Kim Miyori) have arrived to try to fill the void that the Punisher has created by decimating the ranks of the mob. Lady Tanaka throws down the gauntlet by telling the mob the Yakuza will be taking 75% of everything they have their hands in. The mob, being very proficient in math, does not think that’s a very fair offer, and says no. In order to force their compliance, the Yakuza kidnap all of the mob’s kids and hold them ransom. In to that fray steps the Punisher who rescues all the kids (except Franco’s) and brings them to safety, in the process getting caught by the cops. Good news though since he doesn’t stay in their custody for long, getting busted out by Franco, who wants his help in getting back his son. He forces his hand by holding his former partner and best friend Jake (Louis Gossett Jr.) hostage. The Punisher agrees and kills all the Yakuza. To thank him for saving his son, Franco tries to put a bullet in the Punisher. I would have thought a nice gift or maybe a gift card to a restaurant would have sufficed. After all, killing bad guys works up an appetite. That silly Franco thinks otherwise and ends up dying at the hands of the Punisher. The end.
This movie is the weakest of the three. First, it had the lowest budget (I would imagine), and it shows. They couldn’t afford a good actor/actress to play the villain? They are very nondescript and sort of blend into the background. Actually, the most entertaining bad guy was the mob guy in the beginning who got off and was bragging about it to the press as he’s leaving. The way he carried himself was pretty over-the-top and clearly what this movie needed more of. If your budget is non-existent, better be entertaining in other ways.Dolph is Dolph. There’s really no material to go off of here, and he does what he really could with it. Louis Gossett Jr. is the best actor in this thing, and all things considered, gives a decent performance. The rest of the cast doesn’t really matter.
The action I thought was pretty damn weak. The fight choreography is pretty bad, not American Ninja bad, but it’s only a couple steps up. I may be a bit generous with even that. Every action scene is boring, the worst probably being the bus chase scene. After rescuing the kids, he has them board a bus he stole. Driving 40 miles an hour, being pursued by some bad guys in cars, is not exciting in the least. And the ramming of the bus against the cars wasn’t really ramming, more like a sort of grazing against each other.
The writing is uneventful. I guess the best one word description I can give this movie is lifeless. If I have zero over-the-top acting, bad action, at least give me some good one-liners. This movie doesn’t have any, with the closest involving Lady Tanaka. After poisoning some members of the Mob, she tries to get another mobster to drink the poisoned wine. He refuses, to which she sticks a gun into his mouth and asks “what about a chaser?” and blows his head off.
There is the hysterical look Dolph gives during a nightmare he has while locked up in jail:
Clearly the best part of the movie.
What else was good about it? 89 minute running time.
Since I can’t be bothered in coming up with a ½ rating of something, I’ll just give it a zero.