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 given a reboot of the Punisher's origin. Via brief (and well executed) flashbacks, the audience learns that Frank Castle has a huge chip on his shoulder since the murder of his family after they witness a mob hit. He declares a one man war against all criminals, from the lowest pickpocket to the toughest crime boss.
When he accidentally kills an undercover agent while dishing out swift and violent punishment, he decides to turn in his guns. However, newly crowned crime boss Billy "The Beaut" Russoti survives an attack from the Punisher (albeit with a severely disfigured face), and Castle is forced back on the job.
Russoti (who now goes by the name "Jigsaw") decides to murder the wife and daughter of the undercover agent that Castle accidentally killed. He goes to the local asylum and picks up his brother, James "Loony Bin Jim" Russoti and asks him to help him on his mission.
From there, the film is filled with brutal beatings, decapitations, a hint of cannibalism and Frank Castle violently eliminating any and every dirtbag in his way as he tries to stop Jigsaw and LBJ from killing the dead agent's family. It's not rocket science, but hunting down and killing bad guys is what the Punisher has always done, so I wasn't expecting some emotional tour de force from the film.
Overall, this film is the truest to the comics so far. Stevenson LOOKS like Frank Castle and director Lexi Alexander couldn't have chosen a better person for the role. Dominic West hams it up a bit as Jigsaw, but his demented villain is a perfect foil to the Punisher. LBJ, a character created specifically for the film, is portrayed by Doug Hutchison (perhaps best known as Percy from The Green Mile). Hutchison is even more twisted as LBJ than West is as Jigsaw and, to be quite honest, steals the screen from Castle's primary enemy. Wayne Knight (Newman of Seinfeld) plays Microchip, Castle's weapons supplier and main source of moral support. Colin Salmon does a good job as FBI agent Budiansky. Julie Benz plays the deceased agent's wife and Stephanie Janusauskas plays her daughter. Rounding out the primary players is Dash Mihok as Soap, head of the "Punisher Task Force" and a friend of Castle.
Director Alexander makes sure there are plenty of kills in the film, and spared no expense when it came to buckets of blood, explosives and some very well done puppets. It was nice to see almost no CGI in a film for once. War Zone is also filled with plenty of hard hitting music. The soundtrack only adds to the violent atmosphere of the film.
Is Punisher: War Zone perfect? Not at all. However, it's the best Punisher flick so far and hopefully a sequel will find its way to the big screen in the future. As stated before, Ray Stevenson owns this role and has set the bar high for any of his future potential replacements.
I recommend this film to fans of the Punisher comics, action flick fans, gore hounds and anyone who likes plenty of 'splosions. The R-rating is well deserved thanks to a ton of strong language and violent and gory action. Fanboys rejoice.
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 … more
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 … more
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 … more
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 … more
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 … more
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 … more
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 … more
Despite looking extremely cool, I have to admit that I'm a dork. I grew up on the outskirts of the small town of Oberlin, LA. I have since relocated to the Lake Charles, LA area.I love my home state … more
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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.