Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Punisher (1990) * * *

Cast: Dolph Lundgren, Louis Gossett Jr, Jeroen Krabbe, Kim Myori, Nancy Everhard

Director: Mark Goldblatt

Dolph does Death Wish in this better than average Lundgren vehicle, which finds the Bad Ass Swede decently portraying the Marvel comic anti-hero Frank Castle (AKA The Punisher) complete with a shoe polish dye job (!) who’s “Whacking out wise guys like he’s got a hunting license” as a police chief puts it. However Castle ends up battling the Yakuza and their ninja minions when Lady Tanaka (Myori, in a good performance) tries to muscle in on the turf of Italian mobster Gianni Franco (Krabbe, in an excellent performance) suffice to say Castle is fine with letting them kill each other, but when innocent children of the mob bosses are abducted, Castle finds himself pumping belts of ammo and karate chopping his way through ninjas, while his ex-partner Jake (Gossett, in a decent performance) tries to piece together the evidence that Frank Castle is in fact “The Punisher”. As far as comic book adaptations go, The Punisher isn’t exactly faithful to the comics that inspired it. For instance Dolph doesn’t wear the skull logo and there are no comic book characters in the film, but with that said, The Punisher works as a one-man-army shoot-em-up thanks to the plentiful and well staged action sequences which occur frequently enough to keep boredom at bay. Also The Punisher doesn’t take itself too seriously, and The Punisher while low budget, does get some aspects of the character right and for the most part works as solid B. movie action fare. Indeed you can tell a lot of work went into choreographing the fights, while the shootouts have a mean edge. The underlying psychological elements while somewhat hokey do in fact keep the movie moving at a brisk clip and there’s a zany sense of humor that also contributes to the fun factor here.

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