My wife has been saying I should do a review of the Dolph Lundgren version of The Punisher, so here it is. I’ve got a lot of love for this movie. I understand it gets a lot of shit because The Punisher in this version doesn’t have a skull emblem on his shirt. Many people have said that’s like having Superman without the S, and I used to agree. However I noticed something after all these years. To the untrained eye it looks like Dolph is rocking some serious mascara and fake stubble, but now I see there was a method to the madness. Rather than have a skull on his shirt, the director Mark Goldblatt wanted to have Frank Castle’s face look like a skull, hence the dodgy looking make-up.
For many years a shadowy vigilante called The Punisher has been killing criminals all over the city. Many believe he is a myth but there is one police officer, Jake Berkowitz (Louis Gossett Jr.) who believes he knows the identity of The Punisher. Det. Berkowitz believes that The Punisher is his ex-partner Frank Castle who supposedly died in a car bomb along with his family. Berkowitz believes he is close to catching The Punisher and is given help by a young police woman named Sam Leary (Nancy Everhard). Some new criminals from Japan have surfaced and are looking to take over all of the Mafia’s business interests, forcing The Punisher to join forces with an enemy in order to bring the Yakuza down.
I really do like this film. I remember watching it in early ’92, so it evokes some great memories for me. Dolph Lundgren is great as The Punisher. He cuts an imposing figure and is the closest to the comic Frank Castle in my opinion. Jeroen Kraabe is ok as Gianni Franco, though doesn’t really make a convincing Italian mobster. Louis Gossett Jr. is always worth watching as he always gives 100% in whatever film he’s in. There are some fantastic action sequences, particularly when The Punisher attacks a shipment at the docks.
If you have only ever seen the Thomas Jane and Ray Stevenson versions, then I can definitely recommend watching this one too. The script is a bit stilted in places, but overall it’s perfect beer and pizza entertainment!