Dec 21, 2008

The Punisher (1989)

After watching Punisher: War Zone, I decided to first write about the two entries before this second reboot. I appreciate the casting selection of Dolph Lundgren. His jawline is cut in such a way that it brings the fearsome devil that lurks behind his pupils out. With only the expectations from the horrid 2004 film starring Thomas Jane and the 2008 adaptation, I had no idea what to expect from this film other than a Punisher without his emblazoned trademark logo. But after seeing the shameful scene of Thomas Jane's Punisher being granted his infamous "shirt", I found the sacrifice to be for a cause.

The Punisher is among the runts of the Marvel film flock. Before Marvel acquired their own studio, they just relinquished the creative control over to underlings, in this case, New World Pictures. Though New World Pictures was an independent film company, it produced some of the greatest retro sci-fi and horror films of several decades. In order to get the most from their films is to be a child of time. While I thoroughly enjoyed Dolph Lundgren's Punisher film, I found it to be cleverly underwhelming in a way that didn't spoil the film experience.

Rather than featuring a "super villain", The Punisher battles against the general idea of a crime syndicate. Many personal details of Frank Castle's past were changed and an almost-homo erotic partnership has been added in. The receiver is played by none other than Louis Gossett Jr. Personally, his face is most memorable from his role in Jaws 3 (3D). Without this disappointing sequel, I might not have recognized Gossett Jr.'s ability to overact any role into perfection. Regardless of his performance, I still felt a love sustaining almost if chronic.

The traits of the Punisher linger in the aftermath of this film. Whereas in the 2004 film, The Punisher hasn't reached his violent roots yet, same with this stillbirth. The Punisher should lack compassion or any other discernible euphoric trait. This Punisher wouldn't mind hijacking a bus to save a handful of kids. In a humorously illustrated scene, we watch Dolph Lundgren kick ass for children in the same vain that Stuart Devenie kicked ass for the lord in Peter Jackson's Braindead.

Mark Goldblatt serves as the director. He has edited amazing films together such as Predator 2 and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but I fear that his qualification for being a director can be represented by the fact that he directed an episode of Eerie Indiana. The Punisher is a film that was just created without the discipline and helping hand of Marvel. This Punisher, while more masculine than Thomas Jane's pretentious rendition, was still a man without a logo or a cause. Watching Dolph Lundgren slaughtered many Asians proves to be an entertaining cause to continue but the overall product is devoid of meaning, cause, and a celluloid soul.

I enjoyed The Punisher for what it provides and that is a character that is sympathetic yet repugnant. Dolph Lundgren couldn't provide the depth of Castle but instead served a full dish of the Punisher "look". This leads to many scenes that quick-cut to Lundgren's face in a timely void stare that eats up a surprising amount of run time. The Punisher features eccentric weapons, a disturbing ending featuring Lundgren meditating in the nude, gratuitous violence towards women, and an extremely violent environment in comparison to the 2004 Punisher reboot. Recommended only to the fans of what the 80s provides.



Unknown said...

THe Punisher will always be Marvel's charcter that not only is unpopular but will never translate well to the silver screen unless its rated R. And I'm talking a hard R

Anonymous said...

Back in the early 90s,This Punisher movie would always come on late at night. The meditation was indeed a little gothic/eccentric, but I definitely think Dolph pulled it off very well.Alot of action,violence,and just a very dark Frank castle kicking ass. Favorite scene has got to be when he has the kid put the gun up to his head. "Do it."

Soiled Sinema said...

Dolph definitely was an excellent Punisher. Unlike Seagal and Van Damme, Lundgren was a gifted actor. It's a shame he wasn't given an opportunity.

Unknown said...

Too true. Everyone only looked a him as Ivan Drago and Hollywood shit on him.