The Punisher (1989)

Genres - Action  |   Sub-Genres - Action Thriller, Superhero Film  |   Release Date - Jul 8, 1990 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 93 min.  |   Countries - Australia , United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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This Dolph Lundgren vehicle was the first attempt to translate the Marvel Comics character to the big screen. Unfortunately, it falls short of the cinematic promise of the concept. Lundgren gives a decent, stoic performance in the title role but, despite the black dye job he took for the role, he's miscast as an all-American type. He's not alone in having this problem: Jeroen Krabbe is ridiculously miscast as a mobster as are several other actors who seem to be every nationality besides Italian. Louis Gossett is the only actor who seems to be well cast and he applies a level of intensity to his performance that the film doesn't really deserve. A bigger problem with The Punisher is that it attempts to have it both ways stylistically, trying to ape the grim tone and brutality of the comic while also giving the film a flashy pop-art look and some bizarre campy humor (case in point: a scene where the title character and an ally shoot down a room of attacking swordsmen). The action scenes are solidly crafted but the film surrounding them is a muddle that reduces its potentially thrilling concepts to the level of a bland, mediocre action programmer. In short, The Punisher is best left to genre completists.