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Awesome: 11.54%
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1 review, 20 user ratings

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Punisher, The (1989)
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by Jack Sommersby

"Punishing for the Audience"
1 stars

Not coming near to recouping its $9 million budget at the U.S. box office, it was another nail in the coffin for the now-defunct New World Pictures.

Fanboys may be ecstatic that Marvel Comics publisher Stan Lee is credited as “executive consultant” for this big-screen adaptation of the 1974-created comic-book character Frank “The Punisher” Castle, but because the storyline is so discombobulated and the anti-hero so uninteresting it’s highly unlikely anyone going into it will leave even remotely satisfied. As he already demonstrated in his starring roles in Masters of the Universe and Red Scorpion, muscleman Dolph Lundgren, a Swedish actor who portrayed Sylvester Stallone’s boxing nemesis in Rocky IV, sounds as if his throat were filled with quicksand when he speaks and has all the magnetism of an insurance salesman, which is quite detrimental in that his character is supposed to be vivid and larger than life. Set in Los Angeles, the story tells the underwhelming tale of the ex-cop Castle, whose wife and two daughters were murdered five years prior by a mobster who Castle was getting close to busting; and ever since then he’s gone underground, living in the sewers that he rides his motorcycle around, and being responsible for the executions of one-hundred-twenty-five underworld figures -- that’s why he’s been given his nickname, and while the press and public have nothing but admiration for him, the cops are embarrassed that he’s succeeding in getting this scum off the streets a lot more efficiently than they’ve managed to. The marvelous, Oscar-winning Louis Gossett, Jr. does some serious slumming as Castle’s former partner spearheading the manhunt, and the luminous Nancy Everhard of Deepstar Six doesn’t have any better a time of it as his new, mismatched partner; their scenes are just tired, with initial bickering naturally giving way to mutual respect. There’s also the Dutch Jeroen Krabbe, the heavy in both No Mercy and The Living Daylights, around as another heavy, the replacement for the city’s villainous Mr. Big who Castle has taken out in the movie’s first ten minutes, though it is to the debut screenwriter Boaz Yakin’s credit that he’s supplied him with a couple more dimensions than expected -- he’s semi-intriguingly duplicitous. The name of the game here is obviously action, but the director, Mark Goldblatt, whose debut was the dreadful comedy-horror picture Dead Heat, can’t generate much in the way of excitement; and it’s only in the movie’s final section, which takes place in an office building where the power’s gone out and the back-up system shrouds the place in lurid red light (compliments of that ace Australian cinematographer Ian Baker, fellow Aussie Fred Schepisi’s regular cameraman) that the proceedings achieve anything of a distinctive visual life. The Punisher is flatly rendered and poorly paced, and it never comes close to having the luxurious feel that a comic-book movie should. The movie never comes to life, and it can’t even get the basics right in that we’re clueless how Castle can survive sizeable car and house explosions being that there’s never any indication that he’s supernatural; and since the proceedings are so devoid of humor, we don’t even get a bit where just maybe those coming into contact with Castle never note that he must be awfully smelly what with living in a sewer in all. (Does his diet consist of rats?) The saving grace is Barry Otto, cast as Castle’s wino of an informant, Shake, who gives his line readings some welcome piquant assurance. I’d take an entire movie centered around him than the wooden Lundgren’s glumly lackadaisical protagonist.

Read the comic books instead.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=9260&reviewer=327
originally posted: 06/08/15 18:39:16
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User Comments

4/27/18 morris campbell dont punish yourself by watching this shit 1 stars
11/19/15 mr.mike Plenty of action, violence and humor. 4 stars
3/10/07 hunter a good movie with action baby 4 stars
4/20/06 Sugarfoot Not bad actioner, is more surreal than anything else. 4 stars
11/16/05 Tatum Good action, goofy script. 3 stars
10/12/05 Bryant Gumby Wow! This sucks! 1 stars
10/10/05 Biz-e It's a big, epic, outstanding masterpiece compared to the remake... 1 stars
8/29/05 Brisbane Yeah, it's complete crap! Yes, it's total shit on toast! It's STILL better than the redo! 1 stars
8/08/05 Lance Henriksen Foremost when compared to it's awful remake 3 stars
8/02/05 Brandy Harrington Brainless shit. 1 stars
5/24/05 Jake 1989 version, Horrible; 2004, great. 1 stars
11/03/04 Zarcom best movie ever, the 2004 one is complete shit, I knwo most of you agree with me. 5 stars
9/08/04 Scott Hoffman What The Hell Were They Thinking With This Stink Bomb??????? 1 stars
7/31/04 dead next door i rember it as a real good action flick 4 stars
7/28/04 American Slasher Goddess Not extremely faithful to the comic book, but not bad. 3 stars
7/02/04 Mr. Majestyk It's still the closest Punisher movie yet... 3 stars
6/02/04 B.M man LET ME IN! LET ME IN! 5 stars
5/10/04 Jefferson Davis Wonderful... 5 stars
5/05/04 Ajax Almost as bad as the 2004 version 1 stars
4/14/04 Sugarfoot Dolph Lundgren's best movie 4 stars
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  02-Feb-1989 (R)

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