Day 18 The Punisher from 1989
Tagline – “Judge. Jury. Executioner. All in a day’s work.“
Who’s our hero today?
Ivan Drago’s tower power alter-ego Dolph Lundgren plays Marvel’s character Frank Castle for the first time.
Had I seen this one on VHS back in the day?
Pretty sure this was a straight to video store movie. I don’t think I got the chance to see The Punisher until the early 90s. These production companies knew these movies would tank at the cinema so they took their chances with the loyal home rental. Of course us movie obsessed kids and young adults thrived on these b-movies. A few quid for a night of ridiculous action packed carnage screened in your bedroom, absolutely we were gonna lap these up.
Quick plot run down.
When Frank Castle’s family is murdered by criminals, he wages war on crime as a vigilante assassin known only as The Punisher. If you were bad, prepare to be punished with death. When innocent children are taken as hostages during a warring feud between gangs, Frank a one-man weapon against crime.
Does the hero have a day job?
Frank Castle has been trained in all aspects of guerrilla and military tactics having served with the United States Marine Corps and tactical multi-disciplinary training with the U.S Navy SEALs. Well he was in the comics and later in the films and series but I think they are implying he was an ex-cop here?
What’s our heroes special skills?
Martial arts, hand to hand combat skills, military intelligence and stealth trained. He also has an extraordinarily high pain tolerance which usually means he gets a right beating.
Heroes weapon of choice?
A Desert Eagle Mark 1 sidearm modified with an extended barrel is his weapon of choice but he uses anything he gets his hands on. M16 rifles to sawed-off double barrel shotgun to even a Tommy Gun.
Heroes drink of choice?
Can’t remember our Frank having a drink though he does use a remote controlled booze trap on his sidekick.
Does hero have a sidekick?
Frank is friendly with an old drunk. An out of work thespian called Shake (Barry Otto). He seems to know Frank within the shadows of the streets and alleyways of the city. Helping him out with information and words of rhyming wisdom. Also not a sidekick but an old army buddy but now a cop Jake Berkowitz (Louis Gossett Jr).
Hot girl? Damsel in distress or ass kicker?
Hot duties will have to fall to Yakuza boss Lady Tanaka adopted daughter with no name (Zoska Aleece). She doesn’t say a word but is a master of martial arts and wears her leotard tight up her crack like a piece of dental floss.
Who’s the main baddie?
We get two gangster bosses fighting for pole position within the city We’ve got the head of the Japanese Yakuza Lady Tanaka (Kim Miyori) giving the Italian Mafia gangs a run for their money. The Mafia boss is Gianni Franco (Jeroen Krabbé). Between them they carve up the city with blood and violence. Only Frank can sort these feuding gangsters out in the only way he knows.
Baddies special skills?
The Yakuza are filled with martial arts trained killing machines. The Mafia have the numbers, are tough and are heavily armed.
Psycho baddies rating out of ten? 8/10
Lady Tanaka scores a 8.5/10. Gianni Franco scores 7.5/10
Heroes balls of steel and anger ratings out of ten? 10/10
Frank is one man army. He will never give up. “If society won’t punish the guilty, he will.”
Surely it features a training montage scene?
It’s a perfect film for one as Frank prepares for his take down but nah a wasted opportunity.
Does it feature an impossible mission?
Yeah for a whole police department but for Frank? Of course not.
Does the hero get a chance to show off their muscles?
Yes he does and Oh my god! A whole lot worse! ffs! See below.
Will I be needing to pause the video player? AKA are there any boobies?
Come on! This should of come with an advanced warning! Dolph Lundgren sitting butt naked meditating, all oiled up, surrounded by candles, sprouting off words of wisdom with his ass crack on show! Lap it up ladies……
No between the sheets, on top of the sheets action or even swinging from the chandeliers to be found here.
Any good totally random surprise scenes?
The two medieval stretching torture tables in the Yakuza’s lair was quite bizarre. Also Dolph’s painted on makeup on his face to give the impression he has the stubble of a beard growing is rather wack and random.
Innocent baddie death rate?
You’re there working for the family business, happily eating Carbonara and Fettuccine Alfredo. Each time you walk into the local shops the owner respectfully looks scared and hands you over a bag of cash. It’s a nice job. Then you find yourself sitting on the floor with full-bodied Chianti spurting out your chest. Then a size 13 boot hits you square in the face and everything fades into black.
Explosion ratio? Low/Medium/High?
Just the beginning gangster house explosion alone is enough to swing the arrow into the high zone.
How many stuntmen probably really died making this film?
Two of Lady Tanaka’s Yakuza henchmen are renown karate expert’s Kenji Yamaki and Hirofumi Kanayama. Keni Yamaki took on 100 fighters in some real life crazy marathon challenge here. I’ve read that both fighters didn’t speak any English. So possibly a few stunt men and Dolph had a rough time against them as the director is screaming “CUT!” and they keeping raining down the pain.
Any cool car chases?
Yes there’s a pretty cool one with Frank driving a school bus through the streets while being chased and fired on from all angles.
Frank Castle – “I still talk to God sometimes, I ask him if what I’m doing is right or wrong, I’m still waiting for an answer, and until I get one, I’ll be waiting, watching, THE GUILTY WILL BE PUNISHED!”
Any other familiar faces and actors pop up?
Going for the rental era. Louis Gossett Jr will known for Enemy Mine (1985), Iron Eagle (1986) and Firewalker (1986)…. Jeroen Krabbé was in The Fugitive (1993) and The Living Daylights (1987)…. Barry Otto was in the excellent Strictly Ballroom (1992) and the incredibly insane, Howling III (1987)
The Punisher is directed by Mark Goldblatt who only made two films in the chair, this and Dead Heat (1988). A comedy action horror starring Treat Williams and Joe Piscopo. I wanna see it. It’s sounds like a fun movie. Anyone seen it?
Mark Goldblatt super skills look like they were in editing. Because he’s credited to just about every great action film going! The Terminator (1984) Rambo First Blood II (1985) Commando (1985) Predator 2 (1990) Terminator 2 (1991) The Last Boy Scout (1991). The list just keeps going and going.
This adaption of The Punisher is written by Boaz Yakin who had a great hit in the superb drama Fresh (1994) which he directed.
The movie is mostly filmed in Australia with additional scenes being shot in Los Angeles.
A medium bodied cheese left out in the sun for a while. Possibly a fly has stuck itself to the slowly melting goo.
IMDB score rating – 5.7/10
Wolfman ACTION & FUN rating – 7.5/10
Wolfman over all film rating – 6/10
I’d of not realised the Marvel connection at the time. Whereas a kid I loved collecting the bubblegum Marvel cards I’m pretty sure I’d not come cross The Punisher. My favourite was always the cool looking Silver Surfer. So watching it now it’s interesting to see not much mention to Marvel but you do get Stan Lee credited to Executive Consultant. Frank Castles iconic skull motif shirt isn’t used but it does feature on one of his blade handles. Good thing about this month of revisiting all my old VHS memories is that I’m enjoying them more now then I did back then I think. Sure it’s the low expectations and embracing the cheese factor. So where this film is honestly pretty bad it’s also very entertaining. Some of the set designs especially in the Yakuza lair have a wonderful 50/60s feel to them. It’s full on explosive action and interesting to see you if you are a Marvel fan.
Feel free to let me know your thoughts on the films if you want but please don’t feel you need to as I know it’s pretty relentless this month. However, most important, have fun with the movies.
Keep it filmy…. Mikey Wolf.