Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Ultimate Superhero List 3: "The Punisher (1989)"

The guilty will be punished.
(And so will you).

The Punisher for an Old Age

      And finally, after getting through the other two Punisher, we get to the last/first film in the series. This version of The Punisher was released in 1989 and is based on the Marvel Comics series. Directed by Mark Goldblatt (Dead Heat) and written by Boaz Yakin (Now You See Me) and was produced by Robert Mark Kamen of the Taken series, so he's back.The film follows Frank Castle AKA The Punisher (Dolph Lundgren), a former cop who after his family's killed, takes to the street to punish the guilty. When a new crime boss, Lady Tanaka (Kim Miyoki), appears, the Punisher teams up with his nemesis Franco (Jeroen Krabbe) to take her down. All the while, his former partner Berkowitz (Louis Gossett Jr.) and his new partner Leary (Nancy Everhard) try to track him down. Just like in the comics.

Our hero, ladies and gentlemen!
First and Worst

      So, in case you forgot, The Punisher hasn't really been represented well on film. the 2004 film is kinda a guilty pleasure and the War Zone was just not that good. But, don't worry, this one's the absolute worst. Just in case you got excited there. I'll be honest. I've tried. I've really tried. But I can't come up with a single positive thing to say about this movie. But then again, I also don't hate it. Never has a movie ushered in such a feeling of indifference in me. I liked The Punisher. And technically, this isn't The Punisher. He doesn't wear his trademark skull and his origins have been changed, albeit only slightly, so it can't really ruin a character it isn't really. The action is really, really boring and badly done. I mean, The Punisher is the hero and literally every single fight scene ends with him either getting his ass kicked or barely winning. So much for badass. Combine that with how awful the film looks and how weak the directing is and we're lucky we could even see the movie, let alone the action.

Dead Man Acting

      But by far the weakest link is Lundgren himself. Which is a shame because I usually like Lundgren a lot. But here, he plays The Punisher as basically a dead man. He barely talks, barely emotes. Hell, he barely moves most of the time and even then it looks like he's fighting off rigor mortis. He makes funny faces and often whines about how he has to, you know, punish bad guys. I mean seriously, it's one of the flat-out worst portrayals of a character I've ever seen, comic book character or not. It turned The Punisher from a walking badass to a laughing stock. On top of that, I'd be hard pressed to tell you anything about the plot of the movie in real detail. I know the film is an hour and a half long, but I'm still not sure anything actually happened during that time, other than me wasting it.

That Punisher's just filled with the sass!
The Verdict

      Never has a film left so little an impact on me than the 1989 version of The Punisher. Sure, Lundgren is utter, embarrassingly bad here and the film ruins the Frank Castle character. It looks awful, features an awful supporting cast and awful action. And yet, I'm still not mad at this movie. I'm just glad I never have to think about it again. The Punisher (1989) gets 1 star out of 6.

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