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Punisher: War Zone
An even worse version than the original.
Punisher: War Zone
Ray Stevenson Stars in "Punisher: War Zone."
OPENING WEEKEND: $12,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $40,000,000
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

February 11th, 2008: Sequel to "The Punisher" about Frank Castle, who wages a one-man war on crime after losing his wife and daughter in a shoot-out.

What to Expect: Punisher: War Zone is just one of those movies that should have never been made, and probably wouldn't have, if it wasn't produced by Lionsgate. They are not your typical studio that will go for broke with hundred million dollar blockbusters; instead they make small, low quality movies and usually turn a modest profit. This is why when the first Punisher came out to poor reviews, and almost empty theaters, Lionsgate executives were actually popping the champagne. The movie grossed a measly thirty three million dollars, but was a nice haul considering the movie cost only fifteen million to make. The studio soon announced that the sequel was on the way. Unfortunately they really had no idea what the new installment would be and the movie stalled in production for the next three years because of script problems. The final version will be a complete re-boot, baring no resemblance to the 2004 version. The producers decided to follow the Punisher War Zone comic which is a much darker and bloodier spin-off of the Marvel's Punisher series. The movie will stick very close to the look and feel of the artwork as well as try to bring to life the extreme violence and gore which is the trademark of the War Zone line. Unfortunately, it will still be a low budget movie with very little story to tie all the action together.

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The main problem with this film has to be the plot, or more precisely, the lack there of. In late 2004 Lionsgate decided to do the second movie and announced that Jigsaw would be the villain. Thomas Jane was slated to reprise his role as Frank "Punisher" Castle with Jonathan Hensleigh returning to direct. While the writers struggled to come up with a screenplay, Jane spent the time reading the comics and training. By 2006 he was reeling to go and had discovered a new appreciation for the comic. He went as far as putting on fourteen pounds of muscle, but there was still no script. At this point Nick Santora was rewriting it. Santora is best known for Fox's Prison Break, which is really no work of art. The concept of the show is pretty interesting, but the actual storyline routinely sacrifices the ongoing plot to force each episode to end on a cliffhanger and it is pretty obvious that the writer does not mind having obvious plot holes to keep the suspense up. Well, Santora lived up to his reputation once again because Hensleigh quit the movie almost as soon as he received the new script. Kurt Sutter ("The Shield") was brought in to try to improve the scibe's work, but he really did little to better it.

After more than two years of writes and rewrites here is what they had: The movie will have an opening scene in Texas, with Castle shooting a bunch of people. Then he arrives in New York City with the intention of taking down the mafia. He crashes the 100th birthday party of the head of the New York mob and kills him. Then he goes to another Mafia meeting and begins killing all the Capos (mob bosses) there with a claymore mine and a machine gun. He quickly amasses a body count Rambo would be jealous of. His merciless executions soon create a power vacuum in the mob hierarchy which is filled by Billy Russo. Russo was a low ranking assassin who was known for his cold blooded killing and striking good looks. The Punisher goes after Russo, but fails to kill him, instead destroying his face. Russo's face is sewed back together like a Jigsaw puzzle, forever robbing him of his looks and earning him the moniker Jigsaw. This new villain consolidates his power and surrounds himself with an army of elite bodyguards setting the stage for the final battle with Castle.

When Jane finally received this long anticipated script, he did the prudent thing and quit the project. He publicly stated the very politically correct reason for leaving that "he did not want to commit himself to a movie he did not fully believe in," which really means "the script sucks." Even though fans were looking forward to seeing Jane return as the Punisher, it became clear that a correct decision was made.

Lionsgate's executives were not too upset about losing their main talent, since now they could replace both with a cheaper actor and director. They briefly considered John Dahl (Rounders, Joy Ride) before settling on Lexi Alexander (Green Street Hooligans). Alexander was the perfect choice to bring all the action to life since before becoming a C-rate director she was a kickboxing and karate world champion. To stay within the budget constraints, she needed to get the most bang for her buck and cast TV actors for the movie.

For the part of Punisher, Alexander cast Ray Stevenson, who is best known as being Titus Pullo, a very likeable former Centurion for hire in HBO's Rome. He instantly became a fan favorite because he was able to sell both sides of his personality: the violent drunk mercenary and compassionate friend. If he plays Punisher the same way he did Pullo then he will make everyone forget Jane's Punisher. The only problem with Stevenson is that he was really too heavy in the last season of Rome. To address this problem Alexander sent him to train with her fight choreographer, Pat Johnson, who happens to be a world renowned martial arts expert. Before coming to Hollywood, Johnson was the captain of Chuck Norris's Karate team. Getting his hands on Stevenson, he whipped into shape with daily six hour sessions of weight training, cardio and martial arts training. After finishing with Johnson, Stevenson underwent military training with Gunmetal, a tactical training company ran by former Marines. That was fitting since in the comic Castle is actually a former recon Marine.

Opposite Stevenson, another HBO star, Dominic West, was cast as Jigsaw. West is best known for being the lovable, hard drinking Detective McNulty on the Wire. Rounding out the TV cast is Wayne Knight as Microchip, the character who is kind of the Punisher's Q, designing all of Castle's weapons. This casting has to be the most questionable of all, since Knight is best known for being Newman on Seinfeld. Most of his work since has been the part of comic sidekick, so casting him for this serious part seems strange to me. However, overall both West and Stevenson are both extremely underrated and will really show their talent in this low quality movie.

In Conclusion: Punisher: War Zone is a deep departure from the 2004 version in every sense. First, where the first Punisher actually had some recognizable actors like Thomas Jane, John Travolta and Rebecca Romijn, the new Punisher will have little known actors like Dominic West and Ray Stevenson. Secondly, the first move was criticized for having too much story development and not enough action. Well, Punisher: War Zone will literally have no story or development at all, just a lot of blinding action and a huge body count. It seems that the creators really over compensated in trying to fix the mistakes of the first film and created a movie that is going to be equally poor, just for different reasons. If you like movies that have tons of pointless, extreme rated R violence set in some dark/rainy alleyways then this is the one for you. I just cannot imagine why you would want to spend money to see it though...

Similar Titles: Spawn, Hellboy, The Punisher
December 5th, 2008 (wide)
March 17th, 2009 (DVD)

Lions Gate Films

Lexi Alexander

Ray Stevenson, Dash Mihok, Colin Salmon, Doug Hutchison, Dominic West, Wayne Knight, Julie Benz

Total: 145 vote(s).

Action & Adventure, Drama, Suspense

Click here to view site

Rated R for pervasive strong brutal violence, language and some drug use.

107 min




Punisher: War Zone at Trailer Addict

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