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punisher war zone poster

A 2008 film based on the Marvel Comic.

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Brainless Action Movie--But the Blood and Gore does Give Some Fun Entertainment!

  • Mar 18, 2009

Let's get one thing straight; Marvel Knight's comic series "The Punisher" isn't exactly a grand piece of comic book ingenuity. The comic was gritty, brutal, violent and full of blood and gore. Upon seeing this latest film based on the popular comic character, I wasn't expecting much. Lexi Alexander's "PUNISHER WARZONE" isn't a sequel to the wimpy rendition with Thomas Jane, this one's a reboot; so any continuity issues is not a mistake. The two films are totally different in formula and feel. So is this the best Punisher movie to date? Well, it is--better than the recent film directed by Jonathan Hensleigh and it grinds Dolph Lundgren's film to powder. This isn't really saying much, but the movie was a little better than I expected.

Frank Castle (Ray Stevenson, Rome) is the Punisher, a vigilante who executes criminals as his own brand of justice. Now he sets his sights on a crime boss named Billy Russoti ( Dominic West). When a gunfight goes awry, and an undercover F.B.I. agent is killed, Frank is left to ponder his purpose. However, this encounter also left Russoti a little insane, as he is left disfigured after being left in the glass grinder now calls himself "Jigsaw". Now re-birthed as Jigsaw, the crime boss sets his sights on the undercover agent's widow, Angela (Julie Benz) and his kid and plots vengeance on Castle with the aid of his insane brother Loony Bin Jim (Doug Hutchison). Castle has no choice but to protect the widow--and an obsessed F.B.I. agent (played by Colin Salmon) closing in for the arrest…

"Punisher Warzone" is light years away from truly groundbreaking cinema, but it is a lot better than the other films based on the character. Irish actor Ray Stevenson resembles the artistic renditions of some of the covers in the legendary comic book and I found the actor very fit for the role. Stevenson does have the necessary grit and personality for the role--a single-minded purpose that is supposed to be unstoppable and very determined. Now, that I've gotten that out of the way, the film's screenplay just moves along like a comic book, or rather what most folks think how comic book movie should play out. The film's acting, cinematography, and atmosphere just exudes "comic book" and seemed to have forgotten that it is now a film. The direction by Lexi Alexander is actually decent but spends too much effort in playing into the impulse to prove that it is adapted from a comic book. This may not be a bad thing, but what resulted is a less than stellar script, obligatory dialogue and cardboard characters with hardly any emotion and quite one-dimensional.

The acting of the supporting cast are pretty weak, aside from Dominic West who plays the over-the-top villain, and the accents actually did bother me a little bit. I thought certain elements in the script by Nick Santura and Art Marcum lacked coherency and full of inconsistency, one moment the film reveals its darkly inspired motifs, throws in some scenes for emotion and then one minute it is so comical; I really thought the recruitment scenes of Jigsaw was well out of place. I do think the film missed its potentials for dramatic impact as the film's emotions lacked exposition. All in all the film is pretty routine, the script isn't horrible but it wasn't polished and offers nothing memorable or any surprises.

So what made me like this film a whole lot better than its predecessors? The film is immensely violent and brutal--and may I say quite BLOODY AND GORY. The Punisher is a character without powers (unlike Spider-man), nor does have high-tech resources (unlike Iron Man), and while his reasons may be similar to a certain Dark Knight, as to the lost of his family--he lacks the time to properly train and channel his anger. So, Castle does what he does best--to maim, intimidate and kill. Director Alexander (oh, wow! She's female) gives us all the gory details. I was also pleased that the CGI visual effects are kept to a minimum, and the director cleverly relies on the use of puppets, prosthetics and red ink to deliver the gore EFX . Criminals are beheaded, impaled, blown up to pieces with ruthless indignation. The gunfights are pretty fast and nicely placed, but of course it does lack realism in some aspects.

Ultimately, "Punisher Warzone" isn't a good film, actually it is pretty bad--but it does qualify as being so bad that it is GOOD. I still think that the Punisher being a character who has no super-powers, who deals with the criminal underworld, to be more grounded and more closely linked to realism--Castle is NOT a superhero but a very human vigilante. While the film should have scaled back on the comic-bookish feel that relied on fans of the comic to fill in the plot gaps and instead concentrated on character developments to inspire the humanity of Castle's character then this film would've been really great.

Still, considering the quality of the past "Punisher" films, this movie is a lot better. It is wildly entertaining, that allowed me to look pass the weaknesses of the script and the perfunctory elements by allowing for a lot of blood, GORE and "campy" mayhem to take over. So do I recommend the film? It is brainless entertainment and while "Punisher: Warzone" could have been a lot better, thankfully it wasn't a whole lot worst. Scale back on your expectations and you may like it.

RENT it! [ 2 ½+Stars]

Ray Stevenson as Frank Castle Jigsaw Julie Benz shoot out 1-disc dvd cover

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March 18, 2009
They just don't want to give up on THE PUNISHER do they. Do you suppose anyone is ever gonna get it right or do you think we'll wind up with 47 lousy flix and 1 that's kinda fun?
March 18, 2009
Or as our fellow Amazon reviewer Shaxper would say "kind of, sort of, not really, but almost" fun. No, I think that Punisher is doomed to have bad films made about him and the same goes for Ghost Rider. Some things just don't work well on screen unless you've got a genius of a filmmaker working on them and so often with comic book adaptations, genius is very absent.
March 18, 2009
Well when it comes to GHOST RIDER I would have started by casting anyone other than Nick Cage.
March 18, 2009
That certainly didn't help, esecially since he's about twenty-five years older than the character is in the comics. It also might have been smart of the executives at Marvel Studios to have actually hired someone who understood the tone and the mood of the comics. It's not meant to be some stupid, kitschy, pop culture, supernatural western. It's a an apocalyptic battle between good and evil that takes place in noirish vision of America. How could anyone not know that and get the job of writing and directing the film?
March 18, 2009
Beats me, especially since Marvel has had such a good track record otherwise.
March 18, 2009
For the most part. The Punisher, Blade: Trinity, Elektra, Fantastic 4 I & II, X-Men 3, and Spidey 3 were all letdowns though. Maybe they just need to fire Avi Arad, who's more interested in making big bucks rather than sticking with the old school Marvel spirit. If I were Stan Lee, I wouldn't have dropped that lawsuit.
March 18, 2009
WEll, yeah, but that still leaves SPIDEY 1&2, IRON MAN, BLADE 1&2, and X-MEN 1&2.
March 18, 2009
Plus the Hulk films which weren't great but were still very entertaining. And despite what most people think, I loved Daredevil (both versions of the film). Can't wait to see a Doctor Strange movie... hopefully with Johnny Depp as Strange and with a good director like David Lynch or Alex Proyas.
March 18, 2009
That's what I've been waiting for too.
March 18, 2009
Interesting review, Woo. The film kind of looks like crap, but maybe it's the good kind of crap that you can sink you're teeth into. Okay, that may be the worst mixed metaphor on the planet. LOL!
March 19, 2009
yeh. I think I may have enjoyed it a little more because of its campy appeal and the fact that it was bloody as heck. "so bad it's good" indeed.
March 18, 2009
I think I enjoyed it a little more given all the blood and gore! LOL or maybe I'm just high on medication? he heh.
More Punisher: War Zone reviews
review by . August 01, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
   I liked the last Punisher movie that came out with Thomas Jane and John Travolta but it was just OKAY. You would think with a character like Punisher who really is just a highly train rogue special agent with lots of guns it would fit in the recent trend of trying to ground superheros in the "real world" but for that movie somehow it just made it one of those movies that you rent once and maybe don't change it if comes on TV on a weekend afternoon. Punisher: Warzone isn't …
review by . August 08, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Finally a hardcore Punisher adaptation!
Punisher: War Zone is a bloody, violent and grim sequel to the reboot of The Punisher.  This time around, the film is more like the comic book, it's very dark and grim.  Frank Castle (Ray Stevenson) goes toe-to-toe with the sadistic Jigsaw (Dominic West) and his psychotic brother Looney Bin Jim in a no holds bloody showdown that pushes Frank Castle to the limit.  I was so glad to see this film because I really didn't care for the first remake.  Julie Benz is still sporting …
review by . November 11, 2009
Punisher War(ning) Zone
   Wow, just sat through the "thrilling" and "tense" sequel to Thomas Jane's original Punisher, Punisher 2: War Zone. As in my headline, let this be a warning to all those tempted to throw this little shiny nugget into their movie maker machine thingy at home.   Don't do it.   This is a direct to dvd movie, and that is for a very good reason folks.   If this movie was a character in the original movie, then Thomas Jane's Punisher would …
Quick Tip by . November 14, 2009
For diehard fans only. A definite backwards step for Marvel.
review by . March 20, 2009
While I thoroughly enjoyed Thomas Jane's turn as Frank Castle in 2004's The Punisher, a part of me wanted the title character to get just a bit nastier, a bit dirtier and a heck of a lot more violent. Enter Ray Stevenson (Titus Pullo of Rome), a bigger, badder version of Frank Castle. Not only does Stevenson fully claim the role of the Punisher in Punisher:  War Zone, he dominates every scene he is in.     In Punisher:  War Zone, we are …
review by . April 12, 2009
Before I start, I'd like to say this about the previous 2 punishers. The first one was "acceptable" since it was an 80s movie. You don't expect great plots and great acting from 80s movies. You accept them for what they are, just low budget action flicks. The 2nd movie, with John Travolta as the villain, had no excuse to suck that bad. I mean it wasn't a low budget movie and the previous comic book movies that came out before it like spiderman and xmen were big blockbuster hits. But enough about …
review by . April 23, 2009
Punisher: War Zone was a big surprise for me.  I wasn't impressed with the first reboot of the Punisher series (but I did enjoy the Dolph Lundgren version) so I was very skeptical when this one came out.  I saw it on Blu-Ray and the action just blew me away.  It was totally hardcore and.  ultraviolent  I really enjoyed it because it captured the feel of the comic book with it's dark tone and violent gun battles and bone crunching action.  Too bad the first …
review by . May 10, 2009
One of the best things about Comic book movie adaptations are the sheer over the top action sequences. The over the top action is no more apparent than in this sequel to the original Punisher movie which was released in 2004. The difference between the two movies has to be the violence level is turned up to the max in this one. The over the top villain is also something that has managed to make this film much more enjoyable than the first. Replacing Thomas Jane, I still have my reservations about …
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Punisher: War Zone is a 2008 American comic book Action film directed by Lexi Alexander; based on the fictional Marvel Comics vigilante/anti-hero The Punisher. The 3rd film to depict Marvel Comics character of Frank Castle "The Punisher". The film is a reboot which follows the original telling of Frank Castle's war on crime and corruption rather than a sequel to 2004's The Punisher, or 1989's The Punisher and is the first film to be produced under the Marvel Studios and Marvel Knights production banner, which focuses on films for mature audiences. English actor Ray Stevenson replaced Thomas Jane as Frank Castle. In the film, Castle wages a one-man war against a horribly disfigured mob boss known as Jigsaw (Dominic West). Punisher: War Zone was released in North America by Lionsgate on December 5, 2008, and was released February 6, 2009 in the United Kingdom.
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Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: 2008
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: 2009
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