The Punisher (1989)
Plot: After the mob kills his family, former Officer Frank Castle (Dolph Lundgren) assumes the identity of the Punisher. For fives years, he’s been killing off countless mobsters for revenge. But when the mob goes against the Yakuza, the Punisher finds himself caught in the middle of a gruesome crime war only he can stop.
It’s stupid. It’s over the top. It’s unnecessarily violent. It’s bad ass. The Punisher is a pretty darn entertaining flick. It’s got some brutal fights. And the Punisher just wrecks so many people in this movie. It’s like watching someone play Madden the video game on rookie mode with a super team. It’s pretty insane. But it also has some legit suspense moments that you want in an action movie, and it’s got the classic intense 80’s movie score that you can’t get enough of. Right from the opening credits, it gets you in the mood. The acting is bad, but when it’s bad, you can chuckle at it and it’s not cringe inducing. It does have some irritating elements. During some of the fights, we get really annoying close-ups of someone backing up and dodging a hit. And during the last action scene, the screen just decides to go red for a while. That was…odd. This is a generic and predictable action romp, but you know something, I had a good time. Pure fun entertainment for what it is.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (Very Good)
Category Rankings (Spoilers Throughout)
Best Performance: Louis Gossett Jr. as Jake Berkowitz
-He’s the classic bitter angry cop. Gossett really shines though, especially in the first scene. He’s so grumpy and stubborn, I love it. He also has a few solid acting moments, which I thought was rather impressive considering the movie he’s in. He’s funny and you feel for him.
Worst Performance: Dolph Lundgren as Frank Castle/Punisher
-*Sigh* This hurt the movie significantly. Lundgren is pretty bad, and he’s not the kind of bad where we can just laugh it off, he’s just plain bad. I hate bagging on the man who played Ivan Drago, but his delivery is just uncomfortable to watch. He gets a little better as the movie goes on, but he’s got a couple voiceover monologues where he’s talking about God and his mission, and it’s just awful. Sorry Dolph.
Best Line: “There’s a limit to revenge.” –Gianni Franco
“Well I guess I haven’t reached mine yet.” -Punisher
-The first double exchange best line choice in my superhero series. This was the one solid delivery from Lundgren and it sums up the whole movie perfectly.
Worst Line: “Now I don’t want to stretch this out. But tell me where the kids are.” –Punisher as he’s putting someone into a stretch torture bed thing.
-No explanation needed…ugh.
-The Punisher faces off against this blonde lady who’s basically Tanaka’s (leader of the Yakuza) right hand woman. She’s got these crazy earrings that turn into knives, and there are all kinds of blades that come out of her shoes. Unfortunately Punisher snaps her neck in brutal fashion. A solid fight though.
-The Punisher is constantly meeting with his informant named Shake (Barry Otto). He’s this whacky homeless looking guy who is always talking about performing in the theater. What the hell is with this guy! How did the Punisher come into contact with him? Seriously, at one point Shake randomly mentions to Punisher that he should think about joining the theater. How does this guy become the Punisher’s go to informant? He’s fricking crazy!
-The Punisher just absolutely destroys one of Tanaka’s gambling/bar hideouts. He wrecks this place. A shit load of bullets, it was awesome to watch.
–Part of the plot is the mob’s kids getting kidnapped by the Yakuza. They are locked up and given one quick scene together. It’s just a vortex of terrible kid acting, really excruciating.
-In the early part of the film, there’s this big mob conglomeration awaiting a drug shipment. There’s this one guy sitting in the car that is such an overly blown stereotype, but he’s absolutely hysterical. He picks up his walkie-talkie and goes “Whaaaaaaaaat.” When asked if everything looks safe, he goes “Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.” And then he’s struck with a large sword and dies. You really have to watch the expression on his face and the way he draws out his two lines. It’s gut busting.
Bad Ass Moment:
-The Punisher is walking through a hallway. He just randomly strikes a knife into one of the curtains next to him and a guy falls out dead. Bad Ass.