The Punisher (1989 film)
Video release poster
|Directed by||Mark Goldblatt|
|Based on||The Punisher
by Gerry Conway
John Romita, Sr.
|Music by||Dennis Dreith|
|New World Pictures|
|Running time||89 minutes|
The Punisher is a 1989 American action film starring Dolph Lundgren and directed by Mark Goldblatt. It is based on the Marvel Comics' character of the same name. The film changes many details of the comic book origin and the main character does not wear the trademark "skull". The Punisher was filmed in Sydney, Australia and also co-starred Louis Gossett, Jr., Jeroen Krabbé, Kim Miyori, Nancy Everhard and Barry Otto.
Frank Castle is the city's most wanted, and most mysterious, vigilante, known as "The Punisher". He has killed 125 people in the last 5 years. Castle is an ex-police officer, whose family was murdered in a mob hit. Living in the sewers and waging a one-man war against organized crime, his only friend is an old alcoholic named Shake, who speaks in rhyme for reasons unexplained. Now legally declared dead, Castle strikes back from beyond the grave, killing mobsters wherever he can find them. Due to his war against them, the Mafia families have weakened, forcing one of the family leaders, Gianni Franco, to come in and take control. Franco has a plan to bring the families together as one unit. This, however, has attracted the attention of the Yakuza, Asia's most powerful crime syndicate. Led by Lady Tanaka, the Yakuza decide to take over the Mafia families and all of their interests. In order to sway the mobsters to their cause, they kidnap their children and hold them for ransom.
Shake pleads with the Punisher to save the children, who are likely to be sold into childhood slavery regardless of whether the Mafia give into the demands. While he is able to save most of the children with a .45 Thompson M1928 submachine gun, the Mafia leader's son is taken away to the Yakuza headquarters. Furthermore, the Punisher is taken into custody by the police, only to be freed by Franco's men. Franco persuades the Punisher to help him save his son, and stop the Japanese criminal underworld from taking root in America. Franco and the Punisher raid the Yakuza headquarters, fight and kill all the Yakuza, including Lady Tanaka and her daughter. Upon being reunited with his son, Franco betrays the Punisher in an effort to kill him, but the Punisher wins the duel, killing Franco. As the police arrive, Castle warns Franco's son not to follow the sins of his father, and vanishes from the scene.
- Dolph Lundgren as Frank Castle / The Punisher
- Louis Gossett, Jr. as Jake Berkowitz
- Jeroen Krabbé as Gianni Franco
- Kim Miyori as Lady Tanaka
- Bryan Marshall as Dino Moretti
- Nancy Everhard as Sam Leary
- Barry Otto as Shake
- Brian Rooney as Tommy Franco
- Zoshka Mizak as Tanaka's daughter
- Larry McCormick as TV newsreader
- Kenji Yamaki as Sato
- Todd Boyce as Terrone
- Hirofumi Kanayama as Tomio
- Lani John Tupu as Laccone
- Giancarlo Negroponte as Musso
Development and production
Production took place in Sydney. The film was given a worldwide theatrical release, except in the United States, Sweden, and South Africa. The film was originally slated for a US release in August 1989; trailers were created by New World promoting the film and the film was shown at the Los Angeles Comic Book and Sci-fi Convention. However the film never received a theatrical release in the United States due to New World's financial difficulties and instead was released direct-to-video (VHS and Laserdisc) in 1991. It finally premiered at the 2008 Escapism Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina where director Mark Goldblatt screened his own personal 35mm print (which he showed again in 2009 at the Dolph Lundgren Film Fest hosted by the New Beverly theater).
The film received mainly negative reviews. It currently holds a 24% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes, based on 17 reviews (13 negative, 4 positive). Christopher Null gave the film 1 out of 5, stating the film was "marred by cheeseball sets and special effects, lame fight sequences, and some of the worst acting ever to disgrace the screen." MTV.com cited it as an example of a failed comic book film, complaining that the film omitted aspects of the character that made him compelling, and would have served better following closer to the plot of the source material. Whilst criticizing the film's storyline and acting, Time Out magazine concluded the film was "destructive, reprehensible, and marvelous fun". TV Guide's movie guide gave the film three out of four stars, praising Lundgren's portrayal of the character and compared the characterization of the Punisher to that of Frank Miller's re-imagining of Batman in The Dark Knight Returns. They further praised the film's atmosphere, calling it "genuinely comic book-like, rather than cartoonish".
|The Punisher Original Motion Picture Score|
|Soundtrack album by Dennis Dreith|
|Released||July 19, 2005|
|Recorded||April 3—April 4, 1989|
|Monsters and Critics||link|
A full orchestral score was composed and conducted by Dennis Dreith at the Warner Bros. soundstage in Burbank, California. A CD of the soundtrack was not released until July 19, 2005 (Perseverance Records, PRD006). The CD includes several interviews with the director and the composer, as well as the complete multi-track stereo recording. Perseverance Records also released the 5.1 mix as an SACD, in collaboration with Tarantula Records (TARAN001). The American DVD release only contains a monaural (single track) soundtrack, despite the film being mixed in Dolby Stereo. The 2013 German and UK Blu-ray/DVD editions were presented with 2.0 and 5.1 (Dolby Digital and DTS-HD MA) sound tracks.
- "The Punisher". Dolph-ultimate.com. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
- Ed. Scott Murray, Australia on the Small Screen 1970-1995, Oxford Uni Press, 1996 p126
- "The Punisher". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 28, 2010.
- Christopher Null (2004). "The Punisher (1989)". filmcritic.com. Retrieved February 28, 2010.
- Downey, Ryan J. (2002-04-25). "Will 'Spider-Man' Fly?". MTV.com. Retrieved 2011-08-07.
- "The Punisher (1989)". Time Out. Retrieved February 28, 2010.
- Staff. "The Punisher Review". TV Guide. Retrieved 2011-08-07.
- The Punisher at AllMovie
- The Punisher at the Internet Movie Database
- The Punisher on Dolph-Ultimate.com
- The Punisher on Marvel.com
- The Punisher at Superheroes Lives