THE PUNISHER™ by TIM BRADSTREET|
with MALCOLM XERXES as OUTLAW™
[Courtesy TITAN-RAINBOW Media Productions™]
My own trailer for THE PUNISHER™ ...
...would be of a boy & his parents leaving the cinema where they have seen THE MASK OF ZORRO™.
They would round a corner, only to be faced with a gunman who tells the boy’s mother, “I’ll take that necklace you’re wearin’, lady,” as he grabs for the string of pearls about her neck.
The father would exclaim, “Take your hands off her!” as he pushes their son behind him.
The gunman would cock the hammer of his revolver in the face of the father, retaining his hold on the string of pearls.
From the boy's P.O.V., 2 shots would ring out, then the bloody pearls would cascade onto the boy’s face as he screams “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”
The next shot would be of the boy on his knees in the alley, his parents sobbing as they kiss him, clutching him to themselves, the gunman lying face down, his revolver still cocked in his hand, as blood pools around the still-rolling pearls on the ground.
From the boy’s P.O.V., we would see the silhouette of THE PUNISHER™ approach them from the shadows, the skull emblem glowing luminous white, his twin M1911 COLT™ .45 pistosl with smoke arising from their muzzles toward the streetlamp above.
THE PUNISHER™ would stop just short of where the light would allow the family to see his face, but the skull would sear into their memories as the camera zoomed into the skull emblem, red copy appearing below it that reads:
“They can run...but they can’t hide.
Coming soon to a theatre near you.”
Given that people have been shot in the head @point blank range & survived, I didn’t have a problem with FRANK CASTLE being shot in the chest by HOWARD SAINT’S son.
FRANK CASTLE was shown to have survived no less than 2 fiery explosions in THE PUNISHER™ (1989) which starred MR. DOLPH LUNDGREN, but I have never encountered anyone having problems with Suspension of Disbelief around that.
FRANK CASTLE as portrayed by T.J. in THE PUNISHER™ (2004) was fortunate enough to have a bloke who was willing & able to dig the slug out of his chest for him while he was unconscious, whereas THE PUNISHER™ as portrayed by MR. DOLPH LUNDGREN ministered to his own wounds, without benefit of anaesthetic.
I thought that KEVIN NASH did a wonderful job as THE RUSSIAN™, in what was definitely the best fight sequence of the film.
I think that the film we saw was an F.B.I. story that had the title of THE PUNISHER™ grafted onto it, rather than a screenplay that was written about that Protagonist, just as LICENCE TO KILL™ (LICENCE REVOKED™) was a D.E.A. story with a JAMES BOND 007™ title grafted onto it: both good pictures for what they were, although not representative of the true essence of either character.
Concerning what H.K. said about THE PUNISHER™ (2004) @ his website, I have this to say:
First of all, I cannot take seriously any self-appointed armchair critic whose introductory sentence contains scatological diction.
I have not read this MORIARTY’S “review” of THE PUNISHER™ (2004), but I have seen each of the films cited by him & H.K. as comparative material, & I have concluded that this was done primarily to lend credibility to themselves as Film Historians that they obviously do not possess.
I have not seen OVER THE TOP™, but I have seen RED HEAT™ & I own a VHS copy of RED SCORPION™[/B].
H.K. implies that either SYLVESTER STALLONE or GOVERNOR ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER starred in that picture, but in fact, MR. DOLPH LUNDGREN portrayed the Soviet SPETZNAZ soldier in that picture, thereby providing further proof that H.K. is both pretentious & ignorant.
H.K. also asserts that THE PUNISHER™ (1989) which starred MR. DOLPH LUNDGREN was produced by CANNON FILMS™ (who produced the highly entertaining MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE™ that starred MR. LUNDGREN as HE-MAN™), when in fact it was produced by NEW WORLD PICTURES™, who owned MARVEL COMICS GROUP™ @ that time.
H.K. makes the assumption that readers of his article agree with his own highly subjective assessment of MR. LUNDGREN’S incarnation of THE PUNISHER™ as an inferior film entertainment.
He also assumes that his readers have seen that film @ all, continuing with his scatological obsession.
The fact that H.K. assumed that MORIARTY’S description of THE PUNISHER™ (2004) was accurate & objective is further proof of how unqualified he is to write Film criticism.
He claims to “love…an awful lot of talent…in this thing”, but begrudges them the work they have secured for themselves in this picture, as well as the money that they have earned & will continue to earn as the result of their involvement therein.
H.K. maintains that “they took fairly radical points of departure with the character”, but in fact, this character is not THE PUNISHER™ @ all.
Rather, he is an F.B.I. Special Agent whose son provides him a black skull T-shirt for supernatural protection against “evil spirits”. *SNORT!*
H.K. does not believe that THE PUNISHER™ is either a Hero or an Antihero, “but a great MARVEL™ villain”, which to my mind makes H.K. unqualified to either judge this film or the various comic books or to understand any of their Protagonist’s motivations.
THE PUNISHER™ has never been a “man that cannot be reasoned with”, so H.K. is doomed to eternal ignorance of what makes this character great.
The screenwriter’s & director’s decision to have F.B.I. SPECIAL AGENT CASTLE’S entire extended family massacred was both foolish & futile, since the very Existential randomness of the Central Park slayings is part of what motivates U.S.M.C. CAPTAIN FRANK CASTLE to become what he is: THE PUNISHER™, so it was no wonder that HOWARD SAINT was granted more empathy & sympathy by H.K.
I think & feel that H.K. overstates his case by saying that T.J., J.T., LAURA HARRING, SAMANTHA MATHIS, WILL PATTON, REBECCA ROMIJN & ROY SCHEIDER have been cast in roles that “are not worth playing”, but I believe that MR. ROY SCHEIDER was under-used, relegated as he was to what was virtually a cameo.
T.J. tries very hard to convince us throughout the entire film that he *is* F.B.I. SPECIAL AGENT FRANK CASTLE, but never lets us forget that he, the actor, is *trying very hard to convince us*.
Consequently, he never succeeds in persuading me that he *is* THE PUNISHER™, whereas MR. DOLPH LUNDGREN had me sold on first sight, despite the absence of the skull emblem on his chest, which had been condemned by NEW WORLD PICTURES™ & STAN LEE as “too comic booky” (this despite the fact that T.B. released a film that same year whose Protagonist had a distinctive emblem on his own chest that was the centrepiece of the BATMAN™ (1989) advertising campaign!)
I have never liked J.T., especially in the role of Antagonist, but his work in this film is the best of his career, since he overacts in only 1 scene, rather than for the entire picture, for a change.
The actress cast as MRS. SAINT was competent & credible, although I wondered how it was that she could simply forget about her dead simpleton of a son, just because she had ordered the massacre of F.B.I. SPECIAL AGENT FRANK CASTLE’S family, then received a set of diamond ear-rings.
I would rather have seen REBECCA ROMIJN in the role of MARIA CASTLE, but SAMANTHA MATHIS was innocuous in that role, in a very DEBBIE REYNOLDS sort of way.
MR. WILL PATTON is a man whose work I have always enjoyed (especially in VR-5™), & this time was even better, as I had never seen him in the role of henchman before.
I disagree with H.K.’s homophobic assessment, however, as I think that he was projecting his own issues onto the film & its narration.
REBECCA ROMIJN did her work well enough, but the character she portrayed was *not* JOAN THE MOUSE, whom I would have rather seen portrayed by someone like MS. MOLLY PARKER or MS. JANEANE GAROFALO.
The blokes cast as MR. BUMPO & DAVE worked well with each other, but they were *not* MR. BUMPO & SPACKER DAVE: the former should be an obese shut-in, rather than a STEVEN FURST wannabee, while the latter’s face should be covered entirely in piercings, rather than someone who is the vocalist of an ALICE IN CHAINS™ tribute band.
H.K. asserts that these characters “have an oddly touch-feely gay geekness [sic] thing going on”, but once again, I think that this is H.K.’s own homophobia coming to the fore, as I perceived nothing even remotely homoerotic about either character, nor about the manner in which they interacted with each other.
I like MR. ROY SCHEIDER very much; I always have, & he was the primary reason I stuck with SEAQUEST DSV™ for so long, but the character as scripted could have been portrayed by any number of lesser actors than he.
THE RUSSIAN as portrayed by KEVIN NASH never once uttered a single word, let alone “Vaya con Dios”, which was spoken by the Puerto Rican bloke, so I doubt that H.K. even saw the same film I did, or that he even bothered to view it all the way through to the end credits, since he seems to be far more comfortable with making up his own version of the story.
H.K. has no understanding of Dramatic Irony, otherwise he would have understood what was being attempted by the operatic contrapuntalism of the scenes depicting the attempted murder of F.B.I. SPECIAL AGENT FRANK CASTLE by THE RUSSIAN.
That said, I think that H2H combat sequence was made overly comical by the intercutting of FRANK CASTLE’S neighbours, as the fight had the same tone & feel of the fights between JAWS & JAMES BOND 007™ as portrayed by RICHARD KIEL & SIR ROGER MOORE.
H.K. says that he prefers MR. ROGER CORMAN’S THE FANTASTIC 4™ film to THE PUNISHER™ (2004).
I have attempted to watch his preference no less than thrice, & fell asleep each time, due to boredom.
JONATHAN HENSLEIGH’S film has a miscast Protagonist, & there is very little respect for the source material, which led to prolix verbosity in the script where action & imagery would have served, but I never once felt myself nodding off, despite the fact that I was quite ill when I saw THE PUNISHER™ (2004).
THE TORONTO STAR™ critic was inaccurate on both counts when he/she wrote that “The critical conundrum regarding THE PUNISHER™ (2004) is whether to praise it for so successfully capturing its comic-book origins or to damn it for being stupid, excessively violent & just plain ugly”, for this film is not true to the Protagonist’s origin, & there is not nearly enough violence within the story.
As far as THE PUNISHER™: Official Movie Adaptation TPB is concerned, I was not impressed by the fact that none of the characters bore any resemblance to the individuals hired to portray them onscreen, but I put that down to bad artistry & bad judgement on the part of the editor who hired him, rather than to ignorance about the casting of the film.
I would not have been upset to see MR. BRENT ERIC ANDERSON draw THE PUNISHER™ (2004) Movie Adapation, as he did a good job of capturing MR. DOLPH LUNDGREN, et al. from THE PUNISHER™ (1989).
as THE PUNISHER™
with MALCOLM XERXES
[Courtesy of TITAN]
Concerning MR. DOLPH LUNDGREN as THE PUNISHER™ (1989), I admit to having been displeased about the casting of the film when first I read of it in MARVEL AGE™ magazine, but once I saw the pix of MR. DOLPH LUNDGREN in costume, I was ready to be convinced.
If he had been permitted to wear the skull emblazoned on his chest, however, I would have been an immediate convert.
That said, the leatherwork on the costumes in this film is immaculate!
It was not until my 9th consecutive rental viewing of the film on VHS that I could enjoy the film for what it is, letting go of my various biases, & was finally able to recognise the various subtleties in Design & Style.
1) MR. DOLPH LUNDGREN'S face had been shaven & made up to resemble a deaths-head, just as on the cover of THE PUNISHER™ #75;
2) The excellent Minimalist acting of MR. DOLPH LUNDGREN was reminiscent of MR. DAVID CARRADINE in KUNG FU™;
3) MR. DOLPH LUNDGREN'S arid delivery was so subtle & my prejudice so great that I had been missing various comedic lines of dialogue for what they were, ignorant of the fact that this performance paved the way for MESSRS. GARTH ENNIS & STEVE DILLON in their excellent work, to date;
4) THE PUNISHER'S™ living in a sewer was a visual metaphor of his alienation from Society;
5) Subtle Comics continuity touches such as THE PUNISHER'S™ immense dislike of Ninjas;
6) The unusual ordnance he was packing - such as the THOMPSON SUBMACHINE GUN™ - which bespoke his practise of gathering up the fallen weaponry of the gangsters he has killed;
7) The fact that he starts off clean, but becomes progressively dirtier throughout the film;
THE PUNISHER™ takes several savage beatings from his enemies, including a tiny blonde female;
9) His pragmatism about dispatching lethal women as it becomes necessary to do so;
10) SHAKE'S tendency to speak in verse, especially rhyming couplets.
The scene in the alley when the camera pans up from THE PUNISHER'S™ boots to reveal his displeased physiognomy is Pure Cinematic Magic, & would have been Perfection Itself, had MR. DOLPH LUNDGREN been permitted by NEW WORLD PICTURES AUSTRALIA™ & MR. "SMILIN'" STAN "THE MAN" LEE to wear the skull on his chest, but they decided it was “too comic-booky”!
as THE PUNISHER™
However, I don't think that THE PUNISHER™ has been "considered a hero" in the minds of most readers & viewers since FRANK CASTLE went A.W.O.L.
If THE PUNISHER™ is any kind of Protagonist, the man is an Antihero.
Also, the fact of his beloved wife & 2 children being murdered does not lessen that impact, nor does it make the Moral, Legal & Ethical choices that we are forced to make when we encounter him in person any lesser; rather, it makes those choices harder, especially for honest police personnel.
THE YAKUZA were necessary opponents for THE PUNISHER™ in the film because their methodology was outside of his experience, giving him & Antagonist GIANNI FRANCO a viable arc to travel together, just as DAREDEVIL™ & THE KINGPIN™ did in their film together, in yet another retread of what has become a hackneyed cliche in Costumed Crimefighter/Superhero Comics adaptation films & series since 1989: the Antagonist is directly responsible for the origin of the Protagonist: "I made you; you made me; we're even!"
As well, no "Kung Fu" & Hong Kong-style aerial work was used in the film; it was Judo, Aikido, Karate & various other Japanese fighting systems, as well as Boxing, so the fight scenes have a grittiness & edge to them that befits a “STREET FIGHTING MAN” like THE PUNISHER™.
The skull dagger motif would have worked even better if it had complemented the skull that should have been emblazoned on THE PUNISHER'S™ chest as in the comics, rather than replacing it.
KEVLAR™ must shield THE PUNISHER'S™ entire torso in order to be effective, since no mook is guaranteed to shoot only @ the skull on his chest.
Like him, they seek targets of opportunity, especially since they are generally not well-trained, highly proficient pistoleros, as THE PUNISHER™ is.
Everything that THE PUNISHER™ does in this film serves to advance Plot & reveal Character, which is a sign of good storytelling in Comics & in Cinema.
There are those who say THE PUNISHER™ is a "sociopath".
However, I contend that THE PUNISHER™ has always had a conscience, but that killing known criminals who are serial offenders does not bother it, since he feels & thinks them unworthy even of his contempt.
If THE PUNISHER™ had no conscience whatsoever, then he would have no compunction about opening fire on civilians, as THE BATMAN™ was seen to do in the 1989 assassination of that character by TIM BURTON, later aided & abetted by JOEL SCHUMACHER, who abandoned all his skill as a complex storyteller that was on display in the excellent FALLING DOWN™, aka D*FENS™.
I think & feel that other reviewers/critics are being/have been overly dismissive of MR. DOLPH LUNDGREN'S acting ability to say that he "can't" do it.
It would be fairer to say that he has a limited range & technical skill, but I thought & felt that he was perfect for THE PUNISHER™, just as he was perfect for HE-MAN™ in MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE™ & for IVAN DRAGO in ROCKY IV™, et cetera.
THE PUNISHER’S™ virtually monotone delivery was perfectly representative of a man who is in a state of mental disassociation, utterly alienated from Society, arguably even from himself.
THE PUNISHER’S™ naked meditation/prayer in the sewer was indicative of his extensive Martial training, instead of making him like a character portrayed by HERR ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, a character who is covered in muscle, but who does not move like a trained fighter, utters vapid one-liners, has weapons that never exhaust themselves of ammunition, suffers no lasting effects of the violence visited upon him, & who does not undergo any meaningful change to his personality during the course of the story.
And I say that with all due respect to HERR ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, who is a brilliant businessman, who might become an effective Governor, but who is also an actor of limited range....
"...NOT that there's anything WRONG with that!" ;)
I admire THE PUNISHER™ greatly for several reasons, but partly because I pity him, just as I do THE BATMAN™, who wears the mask of MR. BRUCE WAYNE, but has deluded himself into believing that the opposite is true.
Both men have suffered incorrigible trauma which does not allow them to sleep @ night; both men deny their legal identities to themselves for those reasons; both men deny themselves numerous opportunities to be happy with intelligent, beautiful, supportive women because of the alienation each man feels from himself & from Society @ large, yet both men feel compelled to protect the citizens who fear & demonise them.
Obviously, both characters have excellent costumes, but when THE BATMAN™ doffs his cowl, he is BRUCE WAYNE once again, speaking of THE BATMAN™ in 3rd Person Objective, whereas when he dons the cowl, THE BATMAN™ speaks of BRUCE WAYNE in 3rd Person Objective, as though they are 2 separate & discreet entities, this despite the fact that both inhabit the same body.
THE PUNISHER™, however, ceased to be CAPTAIN FRANK CASTLE (nee CASTIGLIONE) when he saw his family murdered before his eyes in Central Park by Mafiosi.
In his own words: “FRANK CASTLE is dead. Now, there’s only THE PUNISHER™.”
Whenever THE PUNISHER™ has been arrested, tried & convicted of multiple homicides (amongst other lesser charges), he has been remanded to Ryker’s Island Prison, where, despite the fact that he has been denied his skullsuit, he yet remains THE PUNISHER™.
This fact was demonstrated most excellent well in THE PUNISHER™: CIRCLE OF BLOOD, the TPB collection of his 5-issue miniseries drawn by MESSRS. MIKE ZECK & JOHN BEATTY, wherein THE PUNISHER™, naked in the prison showers, is set upon by several armed criminals, each of whom is fully clothed.
THE PUNISHER™, armed only with a towel & a bar of soap, disposes of them all, this to the shock of the corrupt “Correctional Officer” who turned a blind eye to the attempted hit.
The fact that THE PUNISHER™ wears no mask is very telling, for he does not care whether or not one sees his face, since if you are a criminal, you will soon be dead, & if you are an innocent, you have nothing to fear from him.
Because he has no family left to protect by concealing his identity, he sports a big white target on his chest which draws criminals’ fire to where his armour is located, but which also announces to criminals that Death Incarnate has come for them, & announces to innocent bystanders that they ought to depart or seek cover from the ensuing firefight.
What further fascinates me about THE PUNISHER™ is that one is always left to wonder whether he is punishing the criminals, or punishing CAPTAIN FRANK CASTLE for having failed to protect his family from the Mafia bullets which took them away from him.
I believe that each & every savage beating, stabwound, bullethole, broken bone, et cetera that THE PUNISHER™ suffers is perceived by THE PUNISHER™ as CAPTAIN FRANK CASTLE’S due penance for not having done his duty, a job which his country trained him to do to the very best of his ability, which he feels -- irrrationally! -- that he should have been able to do while picnicking with his family, despite being ambushed, unarmed & outnumbered.
The man wants to die, but cannot bring himself to commit suicide, so whenever he dons the skullsuit, he is disappointed when he returns alive, if not necessarily intact.
This causes him to feel contempt & loathing for the various goombahs, skells & mooks whom he decimates, similar to what MASTER SERGEANT BARNES feels for everyone who failed to kill him when he was shot 7 times.
That contemptuous loathing is compounded by the guilt which drives THE PUNISHER™ to do what he does in the various ways that he does it.
THE PUNISHER™ is utterly without mercy for The Enemy: he exists for the sole purpose of seeking him out, then destroying him utterly, “terminating with extreme prejudice”, completely without remorse or pity.
THE PUNISHER™ is terrifying to the “cowardly, superstitious criminals” because he actively seeks them out where they live, then makes them die: he cannot be bribed; he has no pity; he cannot be killed easily.
THE PUNISHER™ is a highly motivated individual who is not content to break a few bones, as THE BATMAN™ does before turning criminals over to police custody; THE PUNISHER™ needs to be the instrument by which the criminals’ lives end, so that a few less people will suffer the Existential despair of a living death, as he does.
I have no illusions that I will ever be permitted to portray THE PUNISHER™ myself, but I believe it is my destiny to portray OUTLAW™, which I hope to do in an upcoming sequel to THE PUNISHER™.
"...Be seeing you!"
Stuntman/Actor FINNEGAN'S SQUAD™