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The Punisher (DVD)

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

    22 Reviews
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      03.03.2010 17:45
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      What happens when all the good people are working on Spider-man

      There was a time, pre-Spider-man, when Marvel couldn't release a decent superhero film. The Punisher fits neatly into that mould... except that it was brought out in the same year as Spider-man 2 - after Marvel had supposedly found its Midas Touch.

      The Punisher is probably one of Marvel's lesser known properties, but in many ways is ideal for film treatment as it is, essentially, Marvel's Batman. An ex-undercover cop, Frank Castle, sees his family wiped out by criminals and turns to vigilantism to exact his revenge. The basic plot is so straightforward it can be set up quickly and efficiently, leaving plenty of time for lots of explosions, gunfights, car chases and all the other staples of the superhero blockbuster.

      This is where Punisher delivers its second surprise by proceeding at an incredibly pedestrian pace. It takes around 40 minutes before Castle's family is killed, then another 20-30 minutes to establish that yes, indeed, he is going to use his skills to hunt down the men responsible. Clearly, Marvel doesn't think its audience is terribly intelligent and needs lots of time process these "complex" plot details. Still, if nothing else, The Punisher offers plenty of opportunities to catch up on lost sleep. If you do happen to doze off for the odd ten minutes (or even hour), you can wake up secure in the knowledge that you will have missed nothing of note.

      It's this slow pace that cripples The Punisher right from the start. This needs to be an action film, full of running, explosions, gunshots and tense situations. It needs to constantly assault the audiences with spectacular set-pieces, interspersed with the odd bit of character development. No-one would have minded too much if The Punisher had been big, dumb and spectacular, but there is absolutely no excuse for making it boring. It crawls along with over-extended, dull scenes which supposedly are there to build up characters and relationships but which actually just contribute to the film's bloated running time.

      It's clear that most of Marvel's budget went on Spider-man 2 and any loose change left over was chucked in the direction of The Punisher. The film's only car chase features a grand total of, erm, 2 cars. The gun battles usually feature about 5 guns and 7 bullets, whilst explosions are pretty much limited to the final 10 minutes or so. Bereft of budget, Punisher simply cannot deliver the punch which the original comic book character promises. Instead, it has to rely on a dull, pedestrian plot and boring, predictable characters.

      Frank Castle/The Punisher is played by Thomas Jane, who doesn't seem quite sure where to pitch his performance. Sometimes he tries for brooding, sometimes for knowing looks to camera, sometimes for badly delivered comedy. Whatever he tries, he does badly. And the one thing he never manages is emotional depth. You never believe that this character is so stricken with grief that he has nothing left to lose; and so you never sympathise with him or condone what he does. Like Batman, The Punisher is an anti-hero, someone you shouldn't cheer for, but secretly do, someone who can do the things you would like to, but daren't. Thomas Jane's Punisher never comes even close to gaining the anti-hero status. You have to worry when an actor normally known as Thomas Jane is billed in the end credits as Tom Jane: it smacks of someone trying to deny they are in it.

      The rest of the cast is similarly lost. John Travolta - a man who veers from the sublime to the ridiculous when it comes to his acting gigs - is here in his "will work for food" mode. As money-laundering banker Howard Saint, he sleepwalks his way through the scenes, mumbling lines, ambling along and seemingly paying very little attention to anything that is going on around him.

      In a shocking piece of writing, Castle is given a trio of sidekicks. Potential love interest Joan is played by X-Men outcast Rebecca Romijn who must yearn for the days when she was being painted blue. Completing this trio of unnecessary characters are "comic relief" Spacker Dave and Bumpo, two misfits who "hilariously" are heavily pierced and fat respectively. Oooh. My aching sides. The blatantly obvious and clunky sub-plot are an attempt to give Castle a "surrogate" family of people who, like him, are social outcasts. It's badly written tosh and the scenes between them are excruciating and cheesy at the same time.

      And here's the real problem. The Punisher never quite seems able to settle on a tone and stick to it. It wants to be (and should be) dark and gritty, a world away from the day-glo colours of certain Spider beings. Yet it makes the horrible mistake of trying to introduce some badly-judged, horribly unfunny humour. Used well, black humour can often add a lot to a film, providing a welcome break from the tense atmosphere.. The Punisher has no truck with that. One minute Frank Castle is (supposedly) looking mean and moody, the next minute, he's uttering sub-Roger Moore style Bond quip, ruining an already bad scene with an appalling pun.

      The dialogue is so cheesy I'm surprised Kraft haven't given up their pursuit of Cadbury's and come after this instead. Again, it seems all the best scriptwriters were hired to work on Spider-man 2, so Marvel asked the Work Experience Boy Tea Boy to come up with the script for The Punisher. As such, it contains every cliché known to mankind and each scene is accompanied by sphincter-clenchingly bad dialogue which MAKES SURE THE VIEWER KNOWS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF WHAT IS HAPPENING. It's like being shouted at for two hours by an idiot who thinks they are a genius.

      So, is there ANYTHING good to say about The Punisher? Well, the opening credits are interesting and deserve to be on a much better film. Capturing the comic book's style, with an appropriate theme tune playing over them, they immediately grab your interest and make you think for a few brief seconds that this could be something special. Sadly, the credits are pretty short (less than a minute) and after that it's all downhill.

      Crippled by a pedestrian pace, cheesy dialogue, sub-standard acting, poor script and a lack of action, The Punisher was always going to be up against it. When you factor in that the character lacks the immediate recognition factor of Spider-man or X-Men, I would estimate that the number of people who like this film is about three. And that's four more than it deserves.

      Unless you're a masochist attracted by the title (in which case you'll probably find it unexpectedly wonderful) you should avoid this at all costs and on no account be tempted to spend any of your hard earned cash on it. Watching it once is punishment enough.

      Basic Information
      -----------------------
      The Punisher
      2004
      Director: Jonathan Hensleigh
      Running time: approx. 124 minutes
      Certificate: 18

      © Copyright SWSt 2010

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        02.12.2009 18:04
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        A good effort, quite entertaining

        note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room

        Marvel are known for their 12A-rated film adaptations, but The Punisher dispels the myth that comic book adaptations are just goofy and inoffensive. The Punisher is rated 18, and really earns its rating with a wealth of brutality, but it's not just sadistic torture porn: there is an entertaining revenge plot here that's well performed and generally competently constructed.

        The film revolves around Frank Castle (Thomas Jane), a family man who is settling down with his family and is attending a family reunion on a lush beach. However, kingpin Howard Saint (John Travolta) sends his cronies there to massacre Castle and his family, ultimately also murdering his wife and young son. Castle, distraught, is left for dead, but resurfaces, styling himself as The Punisher, a black-shirt, leather-clad badass who is intent on getting revenge against Saint and his nameless goons.

        The film has some grim brutality, particularly that Castle knows absolutely nothing of remorse, and this left a sour taste with some reviewers, but it absolutely works within the context of the original comic and is sure to, most importantly, please the fans of the original work. Jane makes a great lead and Travolta is a blast as the manic villain, although for something truly grim, it's worth checking out the new War Zone installment.

        It's a nice change to see a comic film that isn't afraid to show a little brutality, and The Punisher delivers the appropriate thrills as a result. Thanks to fun performances, particularly from Thomas Jane, this is an immensely entertaining comic book film that is rather commendable for its adult content, showing that comic book films aren't just for kids.

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        26.08.2009 14:28
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        A good comic book adaptation & well worth a watch.

        CanThe Punisher is a Marvel Comic book character. He has appeared on film before with Dolph Lundgren playing the lead.

        In this version of the film; Frank Castle (Thomas Zane) is an undercover FBI agent working on a case. Whilst on the case Bobby Saint the son of crime boss Howard Saint is killed. Frank decides to make this his last mission & retire to be with his family. Meanwhile, because he holds Castle responsible for the death of his son, Saint senior plans to kill Castle & his family. This takes place during a family reunion. Franks entire family (I mean everyone too, aunts, uncles, nephews & neices) is killed. Frank is beaten, shot & left for dead. Saint is above & beyond the law & even with Castle as a direct eye witness, nothing can be proven. So Frank decide's to take the law into his own hands. Becoming Judge, Jury & Executioner. After all, "This is not revenge, this is punishment!"

        I think this is a good comic book movie & one of the better ones. Why it didn't get a cinema release I don't know. It has a good plot, entertaining action sequences. A climatic ending & you are right with Frank in his sentiments. It's not a bad advert for capital punishment. If you like action films or revenge dramas I think you will probably enjoy this. There isn't much not to like & I don't think the violence is too gory.

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        30.07.2009 14:28
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        Average actioner

        'Those who do evil to others - the killers, the rapists, psychos, sadists - will come to know me well. Frank Castle is dead. Call me... The Punisher.'


        Get Carter, Death Wish, Death Sentence. All movies that use revenge as a starting point for mass killing and ingenious ways to dispose of people that murdered your family. Revenge is a great plot device because the audience will always forgive the main character for doing what he is doing - so if you want to murder some pimps like Charles Bronson, then you are well within your rights to do so.

        I am not a reader of comic books, although I was when I was about twelve, The Punisher is not a character I am familiar with, but he did start to appear alongside Spiderman in the mid 70's. His character is not unlike Paul Kersey in that he wages a one-man war against the mob, headed up by money launderer Howard Saint (John Travolta).

        Frank Castle is an FBI agent who kills the son of John Travolta in an illegal gun sale on the eve of his retirement. He and his family then move to Puerto Rico to live with their family, including his father Roy Scheider. Upon finding out who killed his son, Travolta sends his hired goons to kill the whole of his family. After a mass slaughter, only Castle is left. He moves back to Tampa Florida to seek vengeance for these deaths.

        The Punisher really doesn't have the punch or impact of films like Death Wish and Death Sentence, although I'm sure that's what they were trying to achieve. I read on the web that director Jonathan Hensleigh wanted a look and feel that was reminiscent of Dirty Harry and other films from the 70's. The film does have that look and is quite violent in places, but doesn't have the same ring to it.

        I suppose the film is OK, but it is no masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination. I do know that the film has since been remade as Punisher Warzone with a totally new cast and crew, which is surprising since this film is only five years old itself.

        If Marvel want to continue making quality films based on their comic characters, I suggest they keep to films like Iron Man and Spiderman than this sort of film. This character has been done before many times before, dressing him in a black t-shirt and giving him a cool car doesn't make him a superhero.

        The Punisher is worth watching as an action film, and certainly for the last ten minutes of retribution. Apart from that it will soon be forgotten.

        Thomas Jane -Frank Castle / The Punisher
        John Travolta -Howard Saint
        Will Patton -Quentin Glass
        Rebecca Romijn
        Joan - Ben Foster

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          02.07.2009 16:46
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          Give it a watch...

          Ok firstly, this is a review simply on the film itself as I have never picked up one of the comics.

          Released in 2004, this film stars Tom Jane (oh yum!) playing Frank Castle. Frank has just retired from being an FBI Agent. The opening scenes show him in his last undercover operation, in which a young man is killed.

          It transpires that this man is Bobby Saint, son of the notorious Howard Saint. When Howard hears of his son's death he orders that the man responsible is killed. His wife however has other ideas and orders that his entire family is murdered.

          Meanwhile Frank is at a family reunion happily relaxing with his family, when Howards mob descend upon the party and kill every family member including his wife and son. Frank is shot and left for dead but... who would have guessed it? He pulls through!

          He becomes determind to find who is responsible for killing his family and makes his sole purpose to punish them.

          Not spoiling the plot so that is all you are getting.

          This is the first time I have come across Tom Jane and found him brilliant (and beautiful!!!). He plays a totally cut up man who, when he is isn't delivering a good beating, is drinking himself into oblivion trying to forget the pains of his past.

          I love the fact that he isn't all outright brutal but actually very clever in the way he gets his revenge. It's not simply about kicking ass (although there is plenty of it), its more about being clever, sly and manipulating people.

          John Travolta plays Howard Saint and I am not 100% sure on him being the bad guy...He is a great actor but I just don't feel this role suited him particularly well. He is enthusiastic enough he seems a little over the top. I think it was a bad casting choice, there are much better candidates for this role.

          All in all I found it a good film and watch it often. It's nothing outstanding but will keep you entertained for a few hours.

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            05.01.2009 22:42
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            Good action film

            Frank Castle (Tom Jane) is an ex marine currently working as an undercover FBI agent, using to alias 'Otto Creed'. In his last case before his retirement to take a desk job in London, he is close to the end of a fake arms deal.

            On the night, it doesn't go exactly to plan when Mickey Duka (Eddie Jemison) brings along his friend Bobby Saint (James Carpinello) who is funding the majority of the deal.

            Like I say, it all goes wrong as after the exchange, the FBI rush in to make arrests and Bobby Saint is killed.

            Bobby Saint is the son of the brutal Howard Saint (John Travolta) - possibly the only thing even more sadistic than Howard Saint, is his wife Livia (Laura Harring).

            When the news is delivered to the Saint's of their sons death, vengence is saught, and Livia Saint orders the death of Castle's whole family.

            Howard Saint's right hand man, Quentin Glass (Will Patton) takes a crew to the Island where Castle's family are having a reunion before his departure for London, killing everyone - and leaving Frank for dead.

            The one mistake the learn they have made, is that did not make sure they finished the job with Frank Castle and he heads towards a recovery and to bring down the Saint empire - giving birth to 'The Punisher'.

            The first time I watched this film it was leant to me by a friend who gave me one word of warning "do not watch this film when you are tired and wanting something to fall asleep to".

            Well, after a long day in the kitchen and a couple of beers after work, I went up to my flat above the pub, tired and pretty much ready for bed, but I needed something on in the background - I know, I'll watch The Punisher.

            5 minutes after getting into bed, I was perched on the edge of my bed waiting for what happens next - and not only that, as soon as the film had finished I was searching through my playstation games trying to find anything where I can shoot and blow things up!

            Not only is it the action and (sometimes corny) one liners that make me want to watch this film all the time, it also the fact that it is one of those action films that don't actually come across as too unbelievable.

            The Punisher does not walk into a room of 50 people all firing conviently around him - he finds ways to take out the majority of the people without being near them and then goes in to finish the job.

            Those that have read the comics will notice there are a few differences. If you hadn't and are now curious - these are:

            1) In the comics, Frank Castle has a daughter, in this film he has a son
            2) In the comics, it is only his wife and daughter that are killed by the mafia supposed to his whole family, and rather than it a revenge killing it is when the accidently come across a gangland style murder in the woods
            3) In the comics, The Punisher prefers 'mercy' bullets which do not kill - in the film he has no such care and seems to enjoy killing

            If you have not seen this film yet, it is definately one to go out and buy - especially with the great news that The Punisher: War Zone is due to hit UK cinemas in early February this year.

            I have read a couple of reviews from America and the general comment is - it doesn't suck! I haven't read too much though as they tend to like giving the whole film away!

            The basic idea I have got from what I have read though is that The Punisher comes across a new enemy, named 'Jigsaw' - again, lovers of the comics will know him from here.

            I have read in a couple of places that Jigsaw is actually one of Howard Saint's old 'henchmen' who The Punisher disfigured bit did not kill.

            A possible draw back though is that Tom Jane is not in the 'sequel' but I have been assured that the new Punisher is just as good, if not better.

            Rumours from the set have led to reports that Tom Jane decided to walk out on The Punshier 2 early on as he had difference of opinions from the director and writers on where they were taking The Punisher and believed it was too far away from the comics.

            There is part of me that hopes this is slightly true as The Punisher is a man who has nithing to live for, and a slightly darker side to him would be excellent.

            But getting back to this film, as I say definately one to go and buy as it has good action and also, is quite funny in places - my favourite 'comedy' moment from the film is when The Punisher 'tortures' Mickey for information - it is definately work a look!

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              28.08.2008 14:05
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              yet another excellent marvel adaptation

              What a movie!! So much better than the original Dolph Lundgren version (althought that was good too). Frank Castle leaves the FBI after a bust goes wrong and a mob boss son is accidentally killed, and goes on vacation with his wife and son for a family reunion.
              The mob boss Howard Saint discovers that it was Frank Castles fault his son was killed and sends his hemchmen to kill Castle and all his family, but unknown to Saint, a badly wounded Castle survives. He gets himself fit, healthy and strong again and vows revenge for what Saint did to his family. Castle, presumed dead, returns to the city and declares war on on Saint under the guise of The Punnisher. Much death and destruction follows including a on man invasion on Saints offices and home. saint tries everything to put Castle awa but he just keeps coming back for more. Thomas Jane is fantastic as the Punisher and John Travolta is great as his nemesis Howard Saint and this movie is action packed from begginning to end. my favourite part is where the Punisher tricks this Valet who works for Saint into revealing information by pretending to burn him with a blowtorch, he cooks a steak with it and rubs an ice lolly on his back, i couldnt stop laughing at that bit.

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                27.08.2008 12:49
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                A good film overall one a lesser known comic

                I hadn't read or seen much of the The Punisher when I first heard it had been released so wasn't really expecting much from it. I have to say however I was very surprised and I fully enjoyed the movie.

                Tom Jane plays Frank Castle, a retired F.B.I. agent who after watching his family slaughtered in front of him and left for dead himself, becomes his alter ego 'The Punisher'.

                Castle sets out to take vengeance on those responsible for the death of his family by tracking down the culprits themselves. At the top of the list is Howard Saint (John Travolta) a ruthless businessman who ordered the hit on Castle's family after Castle mistakenly killed Howard's son during an undercover mission which turned sour.

                The punisher is not one of the most well known comic book heroe's when compared to the obvious one's such as Superman, Spiderman, Batman etc. The Punisher has no special abilities himself or super powers apart from his quest to seek vengeance on those that have wronged him.

                In his quest to hunt down Saint and his minions he is befriended by 3 social outcasts including Joan who is played by Rebecca Romijn-Stamos.

                I thought the film itself was really good and it wasn't your basic super hero movie. It was just a normal guy fighting for what was important to himself. There was plenty of action scenes including gun fights and 1 scene in particular where he fights 1 on 1 with a 7ft russian. Not so much a fight but more of a getting thrown around the place like a rag doll type thing.

                The story is very well done and you actually feel for the characters themselves. If you want something different to you usual comic book movies then this may be the one for you.

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                  04.06.2008 20:23
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                  Not a film I expected to like, but surprisingly good

                  Frank Castle has just retired from the FBI after an illustrious career and is looking forward to spending some quality time with his family. Unfortunately, in his last case, he was responsible for killing the son of a corrupt businessman called Howard Saint, who then seeks revenge on Castle and his family by killing every single last one of them. Frank somehow manages to survive and, once recovered, decides to exact his own revenge on Saint and his family. Will he be successful? Or will he realise in time that revenge will not bring his family back?

                  Thomas Jane, an actor I have barely heard of before, plays Frank Castle. I thought he did a reasonable job in the role. Based on a Marvel comic character, Castle is not really terribly believable - although he isn't imbued with super-hero characteristics, he does manage to live through violence that would have finished most people off, then get up, dust himself off, and start again. However, bearing that in mind, I thought Jane worked well within the confines of the role. He certainly looked the part - all rippling muscle and brooding good looks.

                  John Travolta isn't exactly pushed in his role as Howard Saint. I've seen him play similar roles before - Face/Off immediately springs to mind. Nevertheless, he did give a good performance. I particularly liked his relationship with his wife - his jealousy of her really gave his character some depth and made him seem a bit more human. His violence and aggression was perfectly off-set by his best friend, Quentin Glass, played by Will Patton. Glass' existence as Saint's 'yes' man again adds a touch of realism to the story.

                  There are a bunch of rather odd characters who live next door to Castle when he is trying to exact his revenge on Saint. They are Joan (Rebecca Romjin), Dave (Ben Foster) and Bumbo (John Pinette). All are social misfits, just trying to do what they can to get by, but that is not why I thought they were odd. Although they add a touch of humour to the proceedings, there wasn't a huge amount of point to their existence. I thought a love affair may develop between Joan and Frank, but that didn't really take off. They did make me smile though and that can't be a bad thing.

                  I didn't realise when I first started watching it that it was based on a Marvel comic character and I initially found it all a bit strange and not very credible - I found myself questioning things all the time, which was a little off-putting. Once I realised the background though, it did all begin to make more sense and became a lot more fun. Don't get me wrong - there is a huge amount of violence in the film and it definitely deserves its 18 rating - but the odd injection of humour did lighten the atmosphere every now and again and I did appreciate it. Apart from that, the action is pretty much relentless from start to finish, and although the film is quite a long one at just over 2 hours, I never really got the chance to be bored.

                  The ending was a little bit of a disappointment. It was fairly obvious how it would end, but I do think that the director, Jonathan Hensleigh, could have made a bit more of an effort to make it less cheesy. I know it is based on a comic, but the film is obviously aimed at adults and I would have liked something more realistic.

                  This is obviously a film full of violence, so anyone with a weak stomach or a dislike for this sort of film should stay well clear. I didn't have a problem with the violence, although I don't particularly approve of the premise that violence pays and that if you want revenge, you should go out and get it. If this is likely to offend, or if you are concerned about your children watching this type of film, again, you should keep away. I know there is an 18 rating, but I know that many younger children are able to get their hands on films like this - I borrowed it from a 14 year old!

                  I actually found this film very entertaining. I wasn't particularly expecting to enjoy it, but it is quite a good story, if not exactly original. I think most people who enjoy action films will like this - just bear in mind that it is based on a comic and is therefore not going to be terribly realistic. Recommended.

                  The DVD is available from play.com for £5.99.

                  Classification: 18

                  Running time: 124 minutes

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                    14.07.2007 13:47
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                    Good film with the ability for people to relate to Frank Castle

                    Director –
                    Jonathan Hensleigh.

                    Main Cast-
                    Thomas Jane - (Frank Castle/The Punisher)
                    John Travolta - (Howard Saint)
                    Will Patton - (Leonard Glass)
                    Roy Scheider - (Mr. Castle)
                    Laura Elena Harring - (Livia Saint)
                    Ben Foster - (Spacker Dave)
                    Samantha Mathis - (Maria Castle)
                    James Carpinello - (John Saint)
                    Russell Andrews - (Jimmy Weeks)
                    Edward Jemison - (Nicky Duka)
                    John Pinette - (Mr. Bumpo)
                    Rebecca Romijn - (Joan "The Mouse")
                    Mark Collie - (Harry "Heck" Thornton)
                    Eduardo Yañez - (Mike Toro)
                    Omar Avila - (Joe Toro)
                    Kevin Nash - (The Russian)
                    Marcus Johns - (Will Castle)
                    Russell Durham - (Tatooed Mike)
                    Eddie Jamison - (Nikki Duka)
                    Jeff Chase - (Enforcer)
                    Tom Nowicki - (Lincoln

                    Special Features –
                    The Punisher stunts.
                    The Punisher Origins.
                    War Journal.
                    Music Video
                    Trailer.
                    Audio Commentary.

                    Plot Summary –
                    Whilst being under cover frank castle(Thomas Jane) he is involved in a arms sale that goes wrong resulting with the death of Howard Saints(John Travolta)youngest son, after which Castle retires from undercover work for a desk job in London before leaving Castle visits his family in the Caribbean for a big family get together, whilst there Saint has found out his true identity and has plotted his revenge upon Castle sending hitmen to kill his family, after coming around and finding he was the only survivor castle plans the downfall of the Saints and those who took his family away from him and so becomes the Punisher.
                    The punisher walks through the world we all know, a world full of crime and cruelty and with his determination avenges those wronged by society’s villains.

                    My Opinion –
                    As a kid I always remembered the original Punisher with Dolph Lundgren and how bad that was and secretly hoped they would remake this and in my eyes even though he is a comic book hero the one thing that stands out is he has no superpowers making him just has venerable has me and you he just has intelligence, years of combat training and determination which makes him more accessible has a human being and therefore the audience can relate to him.
                    The film it’s self has a very simple but good plot which I won’t go into much detail about has I don’t want to ruin the plot.
                    instead of going in with all guns blazing the Punishers plan is well thought out and executed with precision using paranoia, hidden secrets, fear and greed along with the old fashioned guns blazing against his foes. One of my favourite scenes in the film is when Saint hires a hitman known has the Russian(Kevin Nash) to kill castle in which the Russian gives Castle a right kicking and only by luck Castle survives and again shows that he is human.
                    Overall this is a much better and thought out remake that is a enjoyable action film for too watch when you don’t want your brain to hurt from thinking to much.

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                      08.04.2007 16:26
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                      Hard nut Marvel franchise

                      Frank Castle is on top of the world. Highly respected at work (he is one of the force's most decorated undercover officers) and adored at home by his wife and son, he decides to retire from the force and enjoy a quieter life with the family. But in his professional life, Castle made enemies. Lots of them. And now one of those enemies decides to avenge the loss of his own son by exacting a terrible act of retribution upon Castle, killing his entire extended family, his wife and his only son before putting a bullet in Castle's head. Castle, however, is not dead. Whilst his heart may be broken and his soul crushed, his body manages to recover. And so The Punisher is born - and the underworld had better watch out.

                      As the onslaught of comic book to movie adaptations continues, some directors are attempting to try and break away from the mainstream. Whilst Spiderman, Hulk and The Fantastic Four may be filling cinemas all over the world, they lack the dark edge that many comic fans crave to see re-created in film. This isn't the first time that somebody has tried to create a film version of Frank Castle's misadventures. In 1989 an extremely poor version of The Punisher was released, with Dolph Lundgren in the lead. Say no more. The film bombed terribly and nobody ever really took an interest in the Frank Castle story. I always thought this was a shame. Frank Castle is a great character and I was genuinely intrigued when I heard that Jonathan Hemsleigh was going to try to resurrect Frank from the dead.

                      The trouble is, this was always going to be a difficult film to make. The Punisher is an unusual comic-book character. He was first introduced in the Spiderman comics of the 1970s, and was essentially considered simply to be another villain. As soon as he had appeared however, his popularity soared and he eventually went on to have his own comic-book series - or three. What makes his character so difficult is that he isn't a good guy. At best he is a vigilante, exacting vengeance on the criminal low lives that he associates with the death of his family. At worst, he is a psychopath, taking out anyone and everyone who gets in his way, without sparing a thought for any of them. This makes him hard work. Nobody likes a film where the lead character is a bad guy. So the creators had to try and make him a bit of a good guy.

                      This for me is where The Punisher falls down. Frank Castle is a wholesome, loving family man (no problem there) whose entire life is shattered by a terrible, murderous act. In the comics, this essentially pushes him over the edge, and he leads a solitary life, trusting nobody apart from himself and shooting first, thinking second. In the film, a sub-plot is introduced showing Castle living in an apartment block, where he befriends a group of nerds suffering from one form of bullying or another. Castle becomes their hero, shooting violent, unwanted boyfriends and in turn, receiving their help when the bad guys come looking for him. It's all a bit unlikely, a bit sugary sweet and not exactly in keeping with the comic book traditions. I can see why the film makers did it. They wanted a character with whom the audience would empathise, but fans of the dark violence of the comics will feel betrayed at the portrayal of the new-look Punisher. Don't get me wrong - Castle certainly isn't happy-go-lucky but I still thought that he needed a hot injection of maniac juice.

                      That doesn't mean that the film isn't violent - it absolutely is, and the level of violence is surprisingly high for a comic book adaptation. (The 18 certificate is the clue). Strangely enough, however, I didn't really think the film was violent enough. Whilst the Punisher isn't particularly sadistic, he is quite inventive and I was expecting rather more from the film than I actually saw. Rather than considering the film to be ultra-violent, I would describe it as ultra-cruel - this is a story about retribution and the drive towards this from absolute cruelty. The climactic sequences are probably the best, with Castle finally let loose on hordes of underworld henchmen, and clearly loving every minute of it.

                      Thomas Jane was a bit of a surprise for me in this film. I only really recalled him from Deep Blue Sea where, although buff and bronzed he was also pretty dumb. In The Punisher, he's still buff, but now he's mean and certainly does his best to bring out the menace in Frank Castle. Castle's adversary Howard Saint (geddit?) is crap. There is no other word for it. And so is John Travolta. John Travolta only ever really gets away with being a good guy. I think it's that big dimple in his chin. He's completely out of place here but his screen time is mercifully quite short. Whilst he might be a ruthless adversary, he isn't a strong enough opponent and eventually I couldn't be sure whether it was Saint who was dragged away kicking or screaming or my will to carry on. The Punisher is cool. The Saint is not.

                      The Punisher is a fairly good movie. It's not something you would queue up to go and see, nor would you probably bother buying it. Rent it one evening when you're feeling particularly pent up and relish the sight of a fellow psychopath stalking around with a rusty guillotine blade. You have been warned. There's a sequel next year, too. Yay!

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                        17.07.2006 09:26
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                        Non-stop action, worth the buy

                        The film starts with star Tom Jane as Frank Castle on his last assignment to set up a ruthless gang. However it goes wrong when the son of a ruthless businessman called Howard saint, played by john Travolta, is killed. Now, wanting revenge for the death of his son, Howard Saint is looking to kill those responsible. Finding out that his son was set up, he hires some hit men to kill Frank and his family.

                        The hit men are successful in killing everyone but Frank, and once he recovers from his injuries, he sets to fight back, the action starts here. Now with no-one in his life that he cares about, Frank decides he has nothing to loose and sets to get revenge by whatever means possible!

                        The film is both entertaining and in places even funny. This film is not the best out there when you look at the other films that have been brought in the Marvel comic series. I’m not a major comic fan, but I do enjoy the films that have come out. This film still comes in the top 5 for me though.

                        At times the film is a little unrealistic for me, but then I guess marvels are. In real life there’s no doubt that Castle would have been killed but hey, this film is defiantly worth the watch. Tom Jane is brilliant for the part as is John Travolta, probably one of my favourite actors who also starred in Face Off.

                        In terms of blood and gore the film isn’t too bad, this is a film more about violence, although there is a disturbing scene where one of Castles friends gets his piercing pulled out, I found myself turning away! This DVD is without doubt worth the watch and can currently be brought for £5.99 at play.com or £6 at choicesuk, this is a bargain for me.

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                          08.12.2005 11:12
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                          Some excellent fight scenes

                          Frank Castle (Thomas Jane) is one of the best undercover cops there is. He has a loving wife and kid, but is constantly moving house due to the nature of his job. He decides to retire early, after his final assignment, which causes the death of the son of notorious gang leader, Howard Saint (John Travolta).
                          Howard Saint and his grieving wife seek revenge and decide to kill Castle's family, his entire family, at a family reunion.
                          It is a brutal slaughtering of men, women and children, and Castle sees it all. His wife and son manage to escape in a 4 x 4 but are immediately persued by the gang truck. There is a crash and the terrified Wife and child flee down a pier, but the vehicle in pursuit run them down!
                          Frank, on a motorbike, catches up and finds his dead family, and is then shot and blown up by the gang.
                          But he isn't quite dead.....

                          The brutal killing of Frank Castle's family is quite emotion when you see the children cowering under the tables being protected by their parents, and then get shot without any hesitation! It really gets the film going and you can almost feel what Frank must be feeling inside, devastated, angry and alone. And the desperate attempt of the wife and son is very upsetting when it ends with their death. It is an excellent start and is something that i haven't quite seen before!

                          It's the violence which makes this film stand out. Never before have I seen unemotional killing of innocents (except that bit in "Assault on Precinct 13" when the ice cream man shoots the little girl). There is also the Russian fight which is very violent (See below), and my favourite (small spoiler alert!) the bit near the end when Castle stabs the man who killed his Dad a few times and then puts a knife up his chin through his mouth! You can see the blade!!!

                          The closest people Castle has to friends are the three people living on the same floor, two geeks and a waitress called Joan. They are worried about their new neighbour after hearing screams from his room (as he tortures somebody), but grow to like him as they find out his past and he rescues Joan from a violent boyfriend. They try to get to know him by inviting him to dinner but he is reluctant to open up.

                          The best moment has got to be the Russian. A huge giant, at least 6"6, with bulging muscles that makes Castle look tiny! He shows up at Castles apartment after the dinner. Frank, expecting Joan at the door, answers unarmed and gets a smack in the mouth the moment it opens! Now there is a grueling battle between the two men, both being thrown across the room, with the Russian avoiding Castle's attempts to serious hurt him.
                          It is a great battle and is extremely violent! Castle gets thrown about, even through walls!, and both are badly hurt and bleeding by the end!

                          The features are OK, there are some deleted scenes and features to give you a look at how the stunts are performed. But other than that theres not much else, which is fine if you are not a features person

                          I won't say anything else because I don't want to ruin the film for you if you haven't seen it before. It's worth a watch for anyone, but not worth buying unless you really enjoyed it.

                          Overall: 75% Me personally, I love this film! But it won't appeal to everyone, due to it's violence and some people just don't like this kinda thing. And i know people that think it's pretty average, but I don't care what they say! I love it!

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                            07.10.2005 19:57
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                            Another great marvel film.

                            The punisher is yet again another great action packed Marvel film. It’s full of great fighting scenes and a good story line, it will keep you gripped throughout the film.

                            Special agent Frank Castle (Tom Jane) has a great family and great life. He’s on his last assignment before retiring from the force, and is sent on a drug bust which goes wrong. Killing one of the sons of a ruthless businessman Howard Saint (John Travolta). Frank’s whole family is killed and he is left for dead. Leaving Frank to seek revenge on the death of his family. He becomes a vigilante hell bent on destroying Saint and his assassins.

                            This film is quiet violent and has some disturbing scenes in it, but has some great acting from John Travolta and Tom Jane.

                            The film has been left open that there will be a chance of a sequel.

                            This film will suit all marvel superhero fans, that enjoy a real good butt kicking action film.

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                              19.07.2005 22:16
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                              Worth a night's rental at least - of you like comic movies.

                              Ever since X-Men banked at the box office you may have noticed a huge resurgence in movies based on comic-book, heck just to name a few from my own personal DVD collection: Elektra, Daredevil, Bullet-proof Monk, Ghost World, Hell-Boy and of course since I’m writing about it: The Punisher. Being the comic book fan-boy that I am naturally I’d read at least a couple of editions of ‘The Punisher’ and whilst I thought it was good - it wasn’t the sort of title I’d add to my standing order with Travelling Man, but when they announced that a film was being made of it - well I was intrigued as this was surely a movie waiting to happen, wasn’t it?

                              * The Storyline *

                              Meet Frank Castle: a softly spoken FBI agent who’s recently decided to hang up his gun and badge and just relax with a bit of quiet time for his family and friends, on his last assignment he’d ended up in a bit of a show-down with a few criminals, one of them turned out to be the baby boy of local crime boss Howard Saint, as expected Saint isn’t happy (well which crime-boss who’s just had his son killed by a fed would be?) and decides to take revenge in the way only criminal’s know how - sends out some of his boys to kill Castle in one big murdering spree.

                              This all goes to plan for Saint except for one tiny hitch, although it seemed certain that Castle was dead - he was just badly hurt and now he’s out to get avenge the death of his wife, only son and everyone else in his family, but rather than going in guns blazing he’s out to do it with a bit of manipulation of Saint and his cronies.

                              * The Cast *

                              I remember the low-budget version that had Dolph Lungdren as Castle (Who I best remember as He-Man when I was a wee opinionator), and frankly the biggest part of that movie that sucked (it all did mind) was the casting - no-one seemed right and it just seemed to be a quick cash-in on Comic-steria in Hollywood, however director Jonathan Hensleigh has just about side-stepped this pot-hole in comic-moviemaking quite well, well just about.

                              As Castle Tom Jane does a stand-up job, the few books I’d picked up always had Castle as a dark character who kept himself to himself and only really inter-acted with other people when he needed to, and to be fair this has been portrayed on screen brilliantly by Jane, the character’s holed himself up in a run-down block of flats where occasionally his neighbours try to coax him out of his shell, but it never really works for them, however its not good enough for it to just be in the script - the actor has to portray a self-imposed loneliness and Jane does so - fantastically.

                              Of course it isn’t just Jane that make’s the film - in a superb appearance John Travolta appears as the attention to detail villain Saint. Once again its a fantastic performance as Travolta makes the role his own especially as he gets more and more paranoid when Castle starts to get closer to breaking down his crime syndicate and you can feel the ‘heat’ between the main Bad and Good Guy in the film kicking in.

                              But there are a couple of stinker characters in the movie and once again it’s one from both the Bad side and the Good side stinking it up, Good first:

                              The love interest - a character called Joan played by Rebecca Romjin-Stamos who lets be honest here, is awesome as Mystique in the X-Men movies, but in here she’s too staid - everything she does is predictable and it just doesn’t fit in with the rest of the film.

                              Then there’s the Bad:

                              Luckily its a really short scene but Kevin Nash as ‘The Russian’ basically sucks, maybe its because I remember him before he was useless in WWE and WCW (if you used to watch those and don’t remember him - think Diesel and later ‘Big Daddy Cool’ in the Outsiders), but the brawl scene he’s in although well choreographed, just seems extremely tacked onto the movie to fill a few minutes.

                              * The Soundtrack *

                              You surely know the standard for Comic-Book movies by now? Cue Nickelback, Drowning Pool and Finger Eleven getting a song in here or there, but there is one absolutely gorgeous song featured in the soundtrack - ‘Broken’ by Seether, I’d already heard it before the movie but then it got 1000 times better by the added guest vocals of Amy Lee (Of Evanescence and my fantasies fame - oh and also..... sadly dating Shaun Morgan, lead singer of Seether) - in the same way that My Immortal plucked at my heart-strings on the Daredevil soundtrack, Broken is heart-breakingly beautiful and fits the mood of the movie extremely well.

                              * Location and Action Scenes *

                              All the way through-out the movie (apart from the early family scene‘s), the movie has to be extremely dark and creepy to keep in tow with the story its trying to tell, yet at all time’s needs to be ready to spring into action for a fight-scene of some type, and to a degree it works, but again at times, it just seems a little too forced (the darkness that is) and it’s good its just not exactly great or something to jump up and down and scream about.

                              * Over-all *

                              It’s a no-brainer, but it’s a good no-brainer, if it wasn’t for the excellent performances from both Travolta and Jane then the movie’d be the sort of thing I’d probably avoid watching again - maybe even as far as selling my copy of its DVD but, because of their performance’s its a bargain to pick up (as its almost always in any DVD sale or multi-buy offer you see) and even if you’re not sure about buying it, I’d certainly recommend that you give it a rental on a bored night.

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                            • Product Details

                              The impressively muscular chest of Tom Jane is the focal point of The Punisher, a movie based on a Marvel Comics superhero. Frank Castle (Jane, Deep Blue Sea) retires from the FBI, which means--as any moviegoer expects--that his family is toast. Howard Saint (John Travolta, Face/Off), a shady Florida businessman whose son was killed in Castle's last mission, orders a hit not only on Castle's wife and child, but also on his parents and a whole bunch of aunts, uncles, cousins, and so forth. The killers shoot Castle himself in the chest, but he inexplicably survives and--as any moviegoer expects--sets out to even the score. Implausibly, given his sometimes curious and roundabout methods, he succeeds. Also featuring Will Patton (Armageddon) as an oily thug, Laura Harring (Mulholland Drive) as Saint's fleshpot wife, and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (X-Men) as a waitress with bad taste in men. --Bret Fetzer