Punisher: War Zone
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Product Description

This is a sequel to the punisher from 2004. After hunting down and killing hundreds of violent criminals frank castle aka the punisher faces his most deadly foe yet: jigsaw. Studio: Lions Gate Home Ent. Release Date: 03/17/2009 Starring: Ray Stevenson Dominic West Run time: 107 minutes Rating: R Director: Lexi Alexander

Punisher: War Zone cannot be adequately described as "over the top"--it's a relentless catalogue of brutal mayhem punctuated, here and there, with outrageous sentimentality. Frank Castle, a.k.a. The Punisher (Ray Stevenson, Rome) has dedicated his life to killing the kind of gangsters who murdered his family. But when he unknowingly kills an undercover FBI agent, Castle falls into a crisis of conscience and decides to lay down his guns. Unfortunately, one of the last gangsters he thought he'd killed survived, albeit horribly disfigured, and seeks revenge on the wife and daughter of that slain FBI agent--so Castle has to go one last spree of vigilante justice! But this plot summary will not prepare you for the jolting violence of Punisher: War Zone; rarely do more than a few minutes go by without startling physical savagery, particularly to people's heads, which get blown apart with numbing frequency. This violence somehow goes hand in hand with dizzyingly saccharine moments when a young girl gazes at Castle with trusting eyes, knowing in her heart that he's the only one who can protect her. The dialogue goes beyond cliche into tough guy baroque. Stevenson underplays Castle to good effect, because everyone else in the movie--including Dominic West (The Wire), Doug Hutchison (The Green Mile), and Wayne Knight (Seinfeld)--chews the scenery like it's slathered with gravy. Some viewers will find this movie revolting; others will worship it like a golden calf. You probably know where you stand. --Bret Fetzer

Customer Reviews:

  • 4 for the movie, but 2 for the packaging
    The previous Punishers were always a disappointment for me: I feel Thomas Jane was a phenomenal Punisher in the 04 version, but the movie itself was all over the place stylistically and, as an origin story, was pedestrian, while the Dolph Lundgren version was more focused, yet still was unconvincing as a Punisher story. This movie surprised the hell out of me with the amount of violence and gore, and what surprised me even more was that it all fit and all worked. This IS The Punisher: unrelenting and unstoppable. It goes down in this movie, and I'm thrilled to see the studio didn't hold back. There's no prospect of salvation here - only a doomed walk towards damnation and death. This Punisher sees that and just keeps walking. It loses a couple of points for Ray Stevenson's inability to emote well, along with the neo-metal soundtrack, which connotes this is purely for the 15-year-old Monster-swilling crowd. It ain't. It may not be perfect, but I think this may be the most satisfying Punisher adaptation yet. Oh, and Dash Mihok gets a lot of screen time - always good.

    Now this is a review for the whole DVD, not just the movie, so on to the packaging. The single-disc version comes with a pretty standard paperboard slipcase, which is cool, and I think the artwork on this puppy looks better than that on the 2-disc version, but that's all this has going for it. The DVD is a flipper disc, which means no artwork and twice as likely to get scratched.

    Beyond that, the DVD case is something called an "Eco Box," which has the same dimensions as a regular DVD case, but has sections of the black part of the case cut out to reduce the use of plastic in packaging. Brothers and sisters, I'm all for companies being more environmentally conscious when it comes to packaging, but this is the case we're talking about, and honestly, it looks terrible - I switched mine to a regular case immediately. Some logical environmental changes, such as use of cellulose in place of plastic, reduction of security tabs (this one had two), or using recycled plastic cases would make more sense to me.

    So, I honestly thought the movie was pretty tight, but I have an inherent aversion to flipper discs - to get the movie with a printed disc, go for the 2-disc version. Just be aware that version is also packaged in an "Eco Box." ...more info
  • Some Viewers Need to Be Warned About This Movie

    Why didn't I read a review before I bought and watched Punisher War Zone? I really should have done so. I let the promise of Ray Stevenson and a comic book movie lead me down the path of disappointed movie-watcherdom.

    Why was I disappointed? Because the movie was so disgustingly gory that I couldn't hardly digest the plot or appreciate the value of the movie. This movie was made as if it was a comic book for Hostel/The Devil's Reject fans. Okay I never watched these movies, but I scarcely see how they could be more gross and difficult to stomach than this movie.

    The review on Amazon that I should have read prior to watching this movie said that if I didn't appreciate the comic book in all its violent glory than I shouldn't be watching the movie. I beg to differ. Comic book art is a one-dimensional medium. Movies are three dimensional. They have what appears to be real life people. It is much easier to deal with watching a person being torn apart on paper than it is in a movie. The impact of violence is therefore much more intense and more deeply felt than violence in a comic book or a graphic novel. I have read and enjoyed Elektra comics (designed for mature readers), so I know that there are violent possibilities in comic books. However, although some did not like Elektra, the filmmaker was able to demonstrate the deadly potential of Elektra and show her moral ambiguity without heads exploding almost continuously, peppered by other horrific death scenes.

    This movie was too much to stomach. I firmly believe that even Kill Bill with the completely over the top violence it featured comes nowhere near how sickening this movie was. It simply made my stomach hurt and left a bad taste in my mouth.

    And it was such a waste. It had a really good cast with three British actors that I admire: Ray Stevenson, Colin Salmon, and Dominic West. For the people who appreciate eye candy, there are handsome men in this movie to admire. It had an antihero who could be admirable but wasn't because he was a brutal and remorseless killing machine. And even still I could accept this in a hero if the impact wasn't delivered in such a horrific fashion. I love antiheroes, but in this movie, The Punisher was a person that I had trouble empathizing with or even detecting any humanity in. The few moments of humanity shown in some scenes was siphoned away by the following scene of him blowing someone's head off. Now I do want to be fair and state that these sickening acts of violence were perpetrated solely on evil people, although the bad guys do horrible things to good people, but still, cruelty is cruelty.

    I think the script was pretty decent. This movie version is much more faithful to the source material of the Punisher comics. It had a very nice production value (except for the gore). The acting was very good, although I feel that Julie Benz was underutilized. It even had a few laughs. In a more subtle person's hands, I could have liked this movie. But with the execution that it received, I definitely did not like and do not care to watch this movie ever again. ...more info
  • Deeper into Frank Castle's compromised psyche
    There really isn't a whole lot you can do with the story of "The Punisher". Having read the comics since I was a kid, even they seemed to get tiring after awhile plotwise.

    Frank Castle is a thirtysomething vigilante whose family was executed by a group of mobsters after accidentally overhearing the details of a planned hit. Ray Stevenson does a way better job than Thomas Jane (which isn't necessarily saying much) in terms of giving some flesh and blood to this otherwise one dimensional character. His performance is by turns haunting and vicious.

    The brutality in this film did not shock me because it's pretty predictable. The Punisher hears about a mob meeting. The Punisher shows up and wastes everybody there, accidentally disfiguring Dominic West, the head honcho of the most powerful mob family in the city. Or country. The locale is never specified.

    What's sort of unbelievable about the whole thing is that Castle's head is always exposed. He twirls from chandeliers blasting away at the enemy, continually trying to satisfy himself that he has finally gotten the most evil one of them all, and his HEAD IS ALWAYS EXPOSED. Would the ingenious idea ever occur to one of these mafia guys to aim accordingly? Apparently not.

    Doug Hutchinson is the best bad guy around these days. His performance in "The Salton Sea", another and far superior revenge film gave me that idea. He plays the insane cannibal brother of West's character, and he is genuinely frightening.

    While this film definitely has a mood and ambiance to it that better delivers the paradoxes of Frank Castle (he finds himself in a moral catch 22 when he accidentally kills an undercover FBI agent), these kind of movies always say the same thing. The same kind of conservative philosophy that produced "Death Wish", etc. The only logical ending for a criminal life is vigilante death and justice. This, of course, is absolute nonsense. It is revealed at one point that Castle had thought about the seminary after being a marine. He enters a Church to reflect. The priest behaves like some naive child, terrified of him though he knew him at one point personally. Completely unrealistic.

    This is worth a watch for real Punisher fans, though the philosophy behind the comic and the character is simply erroneous....more info
  • appropriately violent and nasty..
    both the first Punisher movie and this second installment are enjoyable on the purely visceral level. This second film notches up the violence (which I enjoyed) and cuts back on the emotional drama / dialogue.

    Frank Castle is a one-man killing machine, killing the criminals that escape the legal system with his own code of justice. Makes you wish he was a real person instead of a fictional character....more info
  • Punishment; to watch
    I'm a big fan of the Punisher, and vigilantes in general. The Punisher was always my favorite comic book. I always liked its gritty realism. The Punisher didn't take prisoners; he didn't let the bad guys go. He was dark and tormented, unflinching when he doled out punishment, but ultimately he was one of the good guys.
    Unfortunately this isn't a good movie. While it's better then the B movie 80's version, almost anything on film is. I personally found the 04 version to be a much better movie.
    In the 04 version, there was a more coherent story with better acting, better music, and much more believable action. In the 04 version, I thought Thomas Jane nailed the part, he looked and sounded like the Punisher. There was a sort of Punisher music theme, which fit the character, and the movie managed, to be a good blend of action, humor and dark drama. Thomas Jane appears to have been right to pull out of a sequel for script problems. Its too bad though, I would have liked to have seen T. Jane in a sequel. Yes, the movie got a little silly with him moving fire hydrants around and such, but overall I liked the movie.
    This version, screams B movie and plays like a B movie. I don't mind the violence and gore, they are fitting for the character. It's the story and acting that are weak. The characters are one dimensional, and the fighting/shooting scenes get to be ridiculous and far fetched. I mean, seriously, who hangs upside down from a chandelier and spins around in the middle of a gunfight? And why?
    And yet another origin story? There are hundreds of Punisher comics, cant they use one as the basis for a sequel if they are incapable of coming up with a plot on their own?
    I thought Ray Stevenson did a fair job, looking the part, though his accent didn't really help. I liked the inclusion of micro chip, and Wayne Knight is probably the best actor in the movie, but he was underutilized. If you didn't read the comic books, you really didn't know who "micro" was.
    The idea of a Punisher task force hunting him, was a good and realistic touch, but again, it was regulated to the background story and given no focus. The portrayal and behavior of cops was often very unrealistic, and stereotypical.
    As a fan of the Punisher, the movie is worth seeing. In one sense it is closer to the comics then the previous versions bearing in mind that comics often have far fetched plots and unrealistic fighting scenes. But I personally expect and want more realism and depth from a movie. ...more info
  • War Zone
    If you like Blood and Guns, this is the movie for you. This film brings the comice book to life with full action and blood!!!!...more info
  • "Let me put you out of my misery."
    PUNISHER: WAR ZONE is... as subtle as a chop to the Adam's apple, as bleak as a 14th Century pandemic. If you know, going in, what the Punisher is all about, then you won't be too shocked by the film's dark tone and overt, gory violence. Created in the mold of Mack Bolan the Executioner, the Punisher has always been one of the most brutal anti-heroes in the Marvel universe. Frank Castle, from the moment his family was mercilessly butchered, stopped giving an eff about sunshiny things like hope and optimism and justice as served up by the law. As an urban vigilante, the Punisher tops even the Batman in doling out sheer intimidation and vicious follow-thru on threats. Villains know that Batman won't kill, but that there's a chance the Punisher might not only slap you around silly, but then, afterwards, murderize you, too. Understand that the Punisher's sole purpose now is to eradicate as much two-legged scum as he can off the face of the planet.

    The skimpy plot revolves around a shipment of biological weapons, an assortment of mobsters, and the emergence of Jigsaw - a hood formerly absorbed with his dandy looks until a glass-crunching machine had its way with him - and Jigsaw's brother, the psychotic "Loony Bin" Jim. The movie also tries to lend Frank Castle added depth and dimension, but it does it in a half-hearted fashion. The film has the Punisher undergoing a crisis of conscience (he inadvertently causes the death of an undercover FBI agent) and, as a humanizing element, has him bonding with a little girl. Except that all this feels contrived. Or maybe I'm just not used to seeing a guilt-ridden Frank Castle suddenly contemplating the notion of giving up on his mission.

    But I'll say this: Of the three films thus far, PUNISHER: WAR ZONE is the closest adaptation of the comic book Punisher. Ray Stevenson, despite his one-note acting, not only is the grimmest Punisher yet but he also bears a likeness to Tim Bradstreet's iconic Punisher illustrations, which lends Stevenson a measure of street cred with me. Chances are those who haven't picked up the comics will condemn this movie as soulless and gratuitous. But I say it's pretty much on the money with regards to Castle's persona and the hopeless world he inhabits. But the acting could be better. I mentioned that Stevenson's acting is one-note, but I'd also like to add that Dominic West as Jigsaw and Doug Hutchison as "Loony Bin" Jim turn in ridiculously over-the-top performances.

    Longtime fans of the Punisher can look forward to several Easter eggs within the film, of which the most obvious is perhaps the "Brad Street Hotel." Characters from the comic book show up, such as Microchip and Martin Soap and, of course, Jigsaw. So far, it seems like I've been dogging this movie more so than not, but I did like it enough to rate it 3 stars out of 5, mostly because I dug the exploitation-type action and violence, even though the film falls down on things like acting, storytelling, and character development. Frank Castle has never been one of my preferred Marvel heroes, but there's no denying the man can throw down. I came in to this, anticipating scenes of this sort: a wineglass getting shoved thru a guy's throat and a chair leg punching thru a guy's eye. And, no, there's not much humor here, but I did laugh out loud when a parkour practitioner unexpectedly gets taken out in mid-leap. And, for all the dispensable henchmen and extras in horror or suspense cinema, upon hearing some unidentified noise, are there words more dreaded from the boss than "Go check it out."? It's the verbal version of the red Starfleet uniform.

    You say this film is disheartening and callous and nasty and grim? I say, all those traits define the Punisher. PUNISHER: WAR ZONE captures the essence of Frank Castle. I've always thought him this poor nutter who's given up on life and who now lives only to punish the criminal element. There's no happy place in the Punisher's universe. This is what I expected....more info
  • Cheeze and cursing, but not so bad
    This movie was not as bad as some reviews suggest... when compared to the comic. Oh there's cheeze, but that's whats in the comic. Unrealistic gunshots, tough guy one liners, it all fits together. With that in mind I have to wonder why the "f" bombs? It appears as though someone was trying to make this movie into something it's not, a realistic look at a vigilante. Drop the "f" word and you have a good adaptation of the comic. The look of the film was perfect for the material, sound not bad, casting could not be better for the role of Punisher. I hope the studio tries again and decides what audience the film is targeting....more info
  • Most accurate version so far
    I was a huge fan of the Punisher ever since his 5-issue limited series was released by Marvel comics in 1986. I was a regular reader of the ongoing series up until the time I got married and pretty much gave up comic book reading. Out of all the comics I read/collected, the Punisher was my favorite. There was just something about the character that was so appealing. He wasn't just a bad-a**, he was a tortured soul. Pretty deep stuff for a comic book.

    Well, I had the (mis)fortune of seeing an advance "rough cut" of the first Punisher film with Dolph Lundgren before it was released (I had my sources). I was VERY disappointed. Bad acting, bad story, bad dialogue, bad production values; just plain bad all around.

    The 2004 version was an improvement, but still didn't live up to the Punisher character that I had loved for nearly 20 years. I felt that Thomas Jane's interpretation of Frank Castle was OK, but the overall product was sort of lackluster in it's approach and some sequences were downright silly ("Bring in the Russian!" Puh-lease!).

    Well, I found "War Zone" to be the most accurate verison of the character on film to date. Ray Stevenson LOOKS the most like the iconic vigilante. Dolph was close and Thomas never came close enough. This film is also true to the original mythology of the character (how he became the Punisher, his relationship with Microchip, etc.) and Stevens does an excellent acting job of portraying the "tortured soul" of Frank Castle.

    My biggest problem with the film was the mafia characters. Every single one of them was a cliche with the stereotypical greasy, slicked-back hair and outrageous, over-the-top Italian accents. The main villain, "Jigsaw" (who steals a line right out of 1989's "Batman"), becomes a cartoon-like version of the character after his "transformation". He begins to strut around like George Jefferson and spout out ham-fisted dialogue as if he were performing in some type of comedy act.

    Another bone of contention I had was with the GORE. I realize that the Punisher is all about guns and guts, brawn and bullets; but almost every time he shoots someone, it's a head-shot and we have to see their heads explode. There's even a scene where Castle punches a bad-guy in the face and his face explodes. ***** POSSIBLE SPOILER ***** But, when an ally of his has been hacked wide open with an axe and begs Castle not to let him die this way, Castle performs a mercy killing by shooting him.....but of course, the camera cuts to black and we hear the gunshot. We can't show that to the audience. It's too violent.


    Despite these major flaws, I found the film compelling enough to watch all the way through. I was actually interested in the story and cared about what happened to the characters. The plot does become kind of flimsy from time to time and you're not quite sure which direction the story wants to go; sort of like a high-wire acrobat trying to keep his balance on the rope. But towards the final third of the film, the pace picks up and you get caught up in the story and action.

    I can recommend this to action film fans, although some may be put off by the over-the-top graphic nature of the violence. Punisher fans will most likely LOVE the film.

    I actually liked it, but I'm content enough to have rented instead of purchased.

    ...more info
  • The Punisher Blurs the Line Between Hero and Villain
    Ok, lets start off with the fact this is not King Lear or Hamlet. This doesn't go into deep philisophical questions about people's motivations for revenge.

    It say what it does on the tin. Man's family is killed, something snaps and he just wants to kill/Punish people who he holds responsible.

    Its a kill fest. The scene where the Policeman says "I'm taking him in" and Frank just kills him sums it up. This is gory, violent and takes you to the edge os what is acceptable, but that is what the Comic and the Punisher is about.

    Don't waste your time on negative reviews for this film, because the chances are they have never read the comic, or even heard of the Punisher. This is a generational thing. Either you get it, or you don't.

    Great Film and defintely worth buying. Much better than the predecessors....more info
  • Plenty of action, excess violence, marginal acting
    The Mrs. and I watched two movies this weekend:



    The latter is of course the latest James Bond film. As most everyone knows, this film currently features the sixth actor to portray the eponymous, iconic lead character role. The former film listed, PUNISHER: WAR ZONE, is the third in its own cinematic series as well, and features the third actor to portray the main character of Frank Castle. This time, it's Ray Stephenson (who did such a great job in ROME as Titus Pullo). This is probably the second most violent film I have seen in quite a while - maybe ever (the first place spot still is held by the most recent RAMBO film). Stephenson was a good pick for the role (possibly the best Frank Castle selection to date, though all have been good to varying degrees), and performed it adequately - which is more than I can say for his co-stars.

    The acting overall kind of sucked. It was mostly British actors trying to sound like East Coast guido-thugs or precinct cops (not very convincingly). Accents would veer in and out of various regional influences, sometimes finding their way back towards where they were intended; sometimes not quite so lucky. That's not to say that British actors don't have the chops to pull it off. On the contrary, British actors are often the most talented and effective castmembers in films where they are playing Americans - in many cases even better than their actual American co-stars. Not this time though. The film even added the creepy & fey Doug Hutchinson, who once again overplays an unhinged psycho to the level of high camp. Even though he is an American, his attempted east coast Italian mafia accent is also comically bad (and he is remarkably non-ethnic looking for such a role). His selection to the film was frankly the most questionable casting decision (of many).

    The performances tend to fall into either the category of understated/minimalist (pretty much just Stephenson and Wayne Knight) or overdone (everyone else). Since many of actors who did such mediocre-to-poor performances are actually somewhat talented and have done good work elsewhere (Dominic West, Colin Salmon, Dash Mihok, Julie Benz), then the blame should go squarely to the director and the bad dialogue soaked throughout the film's script. All this, when teamed with VERY graphic and explicit violence, may technically make this an exploitation film (by definition). Regrettably, there was little-to-nothing in the female nudity department.

    I might give this film 2.5 stars if the option were available, but otherwise I give it 3 stars rather than 2 for technical competency and decent pacing.

    If it's extreme violence you're looking for, this film is for you. If you want a sufficiently capable portrayal of the Frank Castle character, Ray Stephenson gets the job done. If you're looking for good acting, meaningful dialogue, and a well-written script - then you're not going to find it in this one. But then again, it's a Punisher movie. Get your priorities straight!

    ...more info
  • Much better than the first two
    I was never much into comics growing up but the few that I did read were the Punisher. I was happy to see the Thomas Zane version and I enjoyed it. However, I left feeling that the actor and the character just didn't fit the guy depicted in the comic books. This movie has changed that. The Punisher is supposed to be dark. He lives and works on the other side of the law to bring justice where the legal system fails. Throughout the comic books you see faint hints of morality, which I found to be perfectly portrayed in this movie. It is my hope that they continue with future Punishers with this crew of actors....more info
  • Righteous splatterfest
    A one-man army, out to take on the whole world - or at least, the whole underworld. Ex-cop, ex-seminarian, his family was killed, and he's out for revenge.

    OK, this adapts the Punisher comic book series, so it's no spoiler to say that he get it, lots of it. There's not a lot to think about here, just lots of fighting. That's where this movie stands out: lots of ways to put metal things into important body parts, and the discovery that people bleed. Remember movies like The Warriors, where all kinds of bad things happen with no visible consequences? Well, the day of bloodless violence is over. Not recommended for people with queasy stomachs.

    -- wiredweird...more info
  • "They laugh at the law, but they don't laugh at me."
    The Punisher... the name itself conjures up a simple image... a muscular man toting what seems like an endless amount of weaponry, killing criminals at every chance in every possible way, while displaying his trademark skull on his chest. What the Punisher is not is a philosophical person. He doesn't contemplate what he's doing, he doesn't question the ethics or morals of each kill. He merely pulls the trigger.

    Now this movie has it's ups and downs. I wouldn't be fair without saying that I was a bit biased before I saw this movie in the theater and again on DVD. Having been a follower of the Punisher from the early 90's I've seen it all. I've read the old Spider Man comics with the Punisher... I've watched the old Dolph Lundgren Punisher movie... the Thomas Jane version... and everything in between. I was happy when this movie was brought to life.

    You have to know a few things before watching this movie to give it a fair chance. First off, it's not a sequel to anything. It's a completely new Punisher. It doesn't follow any other film previously released. Second, it's based on the War Zone comics in the style of the MAX series of Punisher comics. This means that it's supposed to be violent, gritty, and unrelenting.

    What is the Punisher: War Zone (the movie)? It's an unflinching, action-packed, destructive, kill fest. Exactly how the Punisher should be portrayed. He's a vigilante. He may have followed the laws before... but he's so far from reality at this point (having been through Vietnam, lost his family, etc) that his only goal is to kill those that need to be punished. He's lost his faith in the judicial system and goes out to rectify the problem.

    This movie does a fantastic job with portraying the Punisher as the fans have always wanted him. You'll get those few that are still butthurt about this and that. You can't please everyone. But this movie is dark, twisted, and exactly as it should be.

    Now it's come up many times... so let's touch on it. The Thomas Jane Punisher movie was a 2/5 (star) flick at best. The effects were garbage, the acting HORRIBLE, and the plot was so far outside of the realm of the Punisher that I can't even begin to explain it. I think Thomas Jane was far too much of a pretty boy to do that role while Ray Stevenson hit it perfectly. He has the perfect body size, speech, and facial expressions that I believe he's the Punisher when I see him.

    So with all that said... go get this movie. I'm disappointed that this film didn't capture enough of the box office to really put it ahead of some of this other crap being produced. It's a fun movie... it's an action packed adventure... and it's the perfect portrayal of the Punisher. If that's not enough to buy this movie or at least borrow it from a friend... then there's no hope for you.

    Oh and just so there's no confusion. I rated this a 4/5 because while it was what I hoped for, it did lack in some areas. I would like to have seen more of the Punisher (the run time was a killer for the amount of content they could have gotten into it). ...more info
  • War Zone The Perfect Punisher Flick
    I am a huge fan of the comic book Punisher War Zone.After the dissapointing Thomas Jane version,Ray Stevenson steps into the role like a fish in water.He is Frank Castle,a cop whose family was killed gangland style.This movie is non stop action and extremely violent-The Way Punisher should be.Next to the Dolph Lundgren version this one holds up well and should have been a hit at the box office.If you want to see the real deal buy this one!...more info