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THE PUNISHER

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DVD Review- THE PUNISHER

DETAILS: 124 minutes, deleted scenes, featurettes, director's commentary track

STUDIO: LION'S GATE

starring Thomas Jane, John Travolta, Laura Harring, and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos.

PLOT: Frank Castle, an ex-FBI agent, has his family killed and he is left for dead. He goes out to punish those who killed his family as THE PUNISHER.

ANALYSIS: I was addicted to THE PUNISHER comic book for a couple of years in the early 1990s. Years later, I checked out THE PUNISHER revival written by Garth Ennis (since I loved his DC Vertigo series, PREACHER). I wasn't impressed and bailed quickly (the less said about what Garth did to Nick Fury, the better). Now I have seen THE PUNISHER movie (this is actually the second adaptation of the comic book because there was that other PUNISHER movie starring Dolph Lundgren (that came out years ago)). I loved director Brian Hensleigh's take on the character. Thomas Jane is Frank Castle. He makes Dolph Lundgren's take on Frank seem like a badly acted role in a stage play. This new film version of THE PUNISHER is based on the first comic book storyline written by Garth Ennis. THE PUNISHER is an enjoyable action film with character depth. It is seasoned with great actors, small details that make this movie stand out, and a well executed script that makes you want the sequel now!

VIDEO/ AUDIO: THE PUNISHER is shown in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Details are clear and sharp. No colors are off. The blacks are fine and dark. Not a bad transfer at all.

Audio can be heard in English 5.1 Dolby EX or English 2.0 Dolby Surround with the option of English or Spanish subtitles. Dialogue can be heard with crystal clarity. The music and sound effects really boom with intensity.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

The commentary track with director Jonathan Hensleigh is an insightful and informative track with lots of info on the production of the movie including the problems some viewers had with certain scenes, scenes they had to scale back due to the budget, and the story of one of his friends in Manhattan who illegally parked for two years with the use of a fake portable fire hydrant (that no one touched while he was away from his parking spot).

Two deleted scenes appear on the DVD. the first deleted scene was originally opening scene for the movie to introduce and show how bad Howard Saint is. the second deleted scene shows how much of a bitch that Livia Saint is.

KEEPING' IT REAL: PUNISHER STUNTS (28 minutes) shows all the work that goes into the stunts in the movie. Plenty of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with director Jonathan Hensleigh, producer Gale Ann Hurd, Thomas Jane, Kevin Nash, one of Thomas Jane's stunt doubles (Tom had 3 stunts doubles in this movie), and other members of the crew.

WAR JOURNAL: ON THE SET OF THE PUNISHER (30 minutes) is the story of the movie being made from Pre-Production to Premiere night. The director tells about the trials he went through to get the movie done on a 50 day schedule for a budget of $30 million. Of course, they found Tampa, Florida where they could film the movie on the budget they had, but the director underestimated the rain that would fall every day. He also talks about the Kuwait battle scene that had to be cut for budget reasons and a 35 minute sub-plot with Frank's former FBI partner that was excised to bring the movie to under 2 hours from 2 hours and 40 minutes. We do see a glimpse of one scene from that plotline, but I'm greatly disappointed none of the scenes from the excised 35 minutes are included in the deleted scenes.

ARMY OF ONE PUNISHER ORIGINS (13 minutes) tells the story of how the comic book character was created (he first appeared in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN) to how he got his own comic book (people dug the comic quickly) to how comic book writer Garth Ennis took the character back to basics (like what if Frank Castle existed in the real world). Interviews with some of the comic book writers (Steven Grant, Garth Ennis) and some of the people who drew THE PUNISHER (including Tim Bradstreet who does the covers for the current comic book of THE PUNISHER).

DRAWING BLOOD: BRADSTREET STYLE (6 1/2 minutes) shows how the cover artist for THE PUNISHER created the artwork for the movie poster. You see pictures from the photo shoot where Tim Bradstreet took pictures of Thomas Jane dressed up as The Punisher. Also the featurette has footage of Tim Bradstreet and Thomas Jane signing movie posters in a comic book shop.

Also included on the DVD are a music video (Drowning pool- "Step Up") and a trailer for THE PUNISHER video game. Too bad they didn't include any of the trailers for the movie. Besides the missing trailers and missing deleted scenes (from the subplot they excised), the Special Features are well rounded. Don't forget to read the mini prequel comic book for the movie that gives the back story on Frank castle from his time in Kuwait up to the final mission he would do for the FBI (about where the movie starts).

FINAL ANALYSIS: This film adaptation of THE PUNISHER is a big improvement over that first film adaptation of the comic book (done 15 years ago). THE PUNISHER is an entertaining action movie that should do very well on DVD. Bring on the sequel.

this review is (c)9-9-2004 David Blackwell. This review cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com

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