Punisher: War Zone
review by Bobby Blakey
While Marvel was trying to get their act together to kick off the Marvel Cinematic Universe there were still plenty of their characters trying to find that right direction on the big screen. After the well-received Punisher film in 2004 starring Thomas Jane. Sadly Jane did not return for the follow up in 2008s Punisher: War Zone this time starring Ray Stevenson in the title role. Now they are bringing this chapter to 4K Ultra for the first time.
Punisher: War Zone follows Frank Castle, the ex-military man whose family was killed by criminals who became a vigilante known as the Punisher, goes after a whole mob family and gets everyone except enforcer Billy Russoti. He tracks Russoti down and chases him into a vat that is used for crushing bottles. Frank turns on the crusher hoping it would take care of him but it doesn't. He survives but sustains very severe injuries that even with plastic surgery his face looks like a jigsaw puzzle. So he decides to adopt the name Jigsaw. Frank who killed one of Russoti's people who unknown to him is an undercover Fed, decides to pack it in. But when he learns Russoti didn't die and is looking for the money he entrusted to the Fed and will go looking for it at his home which means his family is in danger.
This is easily the most accurate depiction of the Punisher character to date and that includes the Netflix series. Sadly where it works for the character the choice to go more comic style totally jacked up what could have been the best Punisher film ever. From the moment this film begins you realize they are pulling no punches and The Punisher is going to bring the violence like fan want. Ray Stevenson looks like a version of Bradstreet’s art stepped right off the page and plays he plays the character to perfection. The entire opening action sequence is violent and fun as is the rest of the action throughout the film, but it’s the addition of castle’s arch enemy Jigsaw and his brother where things go horribly wrong.
I was so excited to see Jigsaw come to life and while the make-up for Dominic West isn’t great it still could have worked fine had they not had him playing it like a cartoon character. Clearly Stevenson’s Punisher and West’s Jigsaw are in two completely different movies and it just doesn’t work. When The Punisher is out doing Punisher things away from Jigsaw it’s a great action flick, but then West steps back onto the screen and it just becomes laughable. The one liners and over the top gangster New York accent just does not work on any level. Despite this horrendous misstep there is so much great action and bloody violence I am still able to enjoy the little amount of the gritty Punisher flick they sort of delivered.
This new release not only features the film in stunning 4K but also bonus content including a music video, commentary and numerous featurettes taking you behind bringing the vigilante from the page to the screen. Join Frank Castle’s fight to wipe out crime and grab your copy of The Punisher: War Zone available now on 4K Ultra along with 2004s The Punisher on 4K from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.