The Punisher 4K/Blu Ray Review (Lionsgate)
The Punisher is a 2004 comic book crime film co-written & directed by Jonathan Hensleigh (Welcome to the Jungle & Kill the Irishman). Hensleigh is mainly known for his screenwriting, some of his writing credits include Die Hard with a Vengeance, Jumanji, The Saint, & Armageddon. This feature is based off the Marvel Comics series “Welcome Back Frank” plus some elements from “The Punisher: Year One”. It was first developed in 1997, it took several years to finally produce. The Punisher / Frank Castle has been adapted into several film & television projects like 1989’s The Punisher, 2013’s Iron Man: Rise of Technovore, 2014’s Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher, the follow up to this 2008’s War Zone, Netflix’s Daredevil series for Season 2, 2017’s Netflix series, & various others over the years. It had a budget of $33 million & it grossed $54.7 million worldwide at the box office.
A smuggling operation in Tampa Bay results in the deaths of Bobby Saint (played by: James Carpinello from The Great Raid, So Notorious, & The Mob Doctor), the son of mafia boss Howard Saint (played by: John Travolta from Gotti, Blow Out, Carrie, Basic, & Broken Arrow). It was put together by Otto Krieg. Krieg is the fake alias of undercover FBI agent & Delta Force veteran Frank Castle (played by: Thomas Jane from 1922, Hung, Deep Blue Sea, The Mist, & Boogie Nights). This was his last mission before retirement. Howard Saint pays for information that leads to the discovery of Otto Krieg’s true identity. He orders the death of Castle but his wife Livia (played by: Laura Harring from Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire, Willard, Black Scorpion II: Aftershock, & Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out!) suggests that they kill his entire family at their reunion including his wife Maria (played by: Samantha Mathis from Pump Up the Volume, American Psycho, Salem’s Lot, Super Mario Bros., & The Strain), his son Will (played by: Marcus Johns from Cold, Expelled, & Canvas), his father Frank Sr (played by: Roy Scheider from Jaws 1/2. The French Connection, The Seven-Ups, Sorcerer, & 52 Pick-Up), & his mother Betty (played by: Bonnie Johnson from Patch Adams, Big Fish, & Evan Almighty). Quentin Glass (played by: Will Patton from Halloween, Copycat, Armageddon, Gone in Sixty Seconds, & Remember the Titans), Bobby’s brother John (played by: James Carpinello from Gotham, Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife, & Gangster Squad), & various other Saint associates show up soon after & eliminate everyone. At least they thought they did at the time. Castle survives the massacre & he is nursed back to health by a local that found him after the chaos. He comes back to Tampa, moves into a building with low traffic occupied by 3 outcasts.Joan (played by: Rebecca Romijn from X-Men franchise, Rollerball, & Femme Fatale), Bumpo (played by: John Pinette from Vinnie & Bobby, Revenge of the Nerds III/IV, Duets, & Dear God), & Spacker Dave (played by: Ben Foster from Hell or High Water, X-Men: The Last Stand, Hostage, Six Feet Under, & 3:10 to Yuma). He kidnaps & tortures Saint associate Mickey Duka (played by: Eddie Jemison from Ocean’s Eleven Trilogy, Bruce Almighty, Hung, & iZombie) for information to get his revenge. He causes problems with Saint’s business with the Toro brothers. This forces him to bring in a professional from Memphis, the cold blooded Harry Heck (played by: Mark Collie from Nashville, Fire Down Below, Kill Switch, & Jericho). Castle begins to set up distrust between Saint & his two closest allies. This creates a brutal chain of events. After the failed attempt of Heck, Saint hires some muscle to finish Castle once & for all, The Russian (played by: Kevin Nash from WCW, WWF, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, John Wick, & The Longest Yard) is brought in! Castle gets his vengeance on various people involved in the killing of his family. This leads to a final confrontation with the evil Howard Saint. Can he make everything right & move on with his life finally? This blood war has done nothing but damage for both sides!!!!
The Punisher is one of the most under-rated comic book adaptations ever made IMO. It was produced before the superhero craze & when Marvel wasn’t real big in the movie industry. It’s kinda been forgotten & put to the side after all these years. Back then it was very risky to do this type of film with an R Rating. They decided to do a real version of The Punisher character & not water down the material. It had everything that you would expect from Frank Castle & his dark world, Thomas Jane gives a great performance here. John Travolta is very under-rated when it comes to playing a villain, he adds his own unique twist to the role. The rest of the supporting cast was top notch & really elevated the entire production. It’s loaded with mayhem, action, & violence! It’s very entertaining & it has a nice flow to it. There’s never a dull moment in The Punisher & it keeps you on your toes the whole time! It has a more realistic approach to it rather than the typical cartoony vibe that most comic book adaptations have. I prefer a more serious tone like this. It’s a shame that co-writer & director Jonathan Hensleigh didn’t get a chance to do a sequel with Thomas Jane to follow this up. It could have ended up being an epic franchise if given the opportunity. I hope this brand new 4K release reintroduces some viewers to this flick. It deserves more attention & recognition. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for crime, action, superhero/comic book, Thomas Jane, & John Travolta fans!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation for this major upgrade from Lionsgate! This 2160p (2.35:1) transfer is the best that The Punisher has ever looked on home video! I own the DVD & Blu Ray, this blows both of those away. It’s great to see this under-rated comic flick get a proper release & upgraded to 4K. It has 4 different audio options which include English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1, Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1, & French: Dolby Digital 5.1 on this UHD. The sound here is a huge upgrade from the previous releases. All the action & chaos sounds great in the home system. The dialogue is very clean & the score/soundtrack have a nice boost to them. The Blu Ray disc features English: DTS-ES 6.1 & English: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX audio. It also has English, English SDH, & Spanish subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from Lionsgate! “Audio Commentary” with co-writer & director Jonathan Hensleigh. He talks about this film being based off the “Welcome Back Frank” comic series. He says that he wanted to make a feature that resembled something like Sam Peckinpah & Don Siegel from the early 70s. He chats about working with DP Conrad W. Hall. He talks about most of the cast & his experience working with them. He mentions Thomas Jane basically reprises his role from Stander at the beginning. He shows his appreciation for John Travolta & he brings up that he’s never played a villain like this before. He chats about his budget getting cut a little before the production started for this. He mentions various scenes & plot points that had to be cut because of it. He says Tampa was a very controversial location especially for the hardcore fans. He brings up complaints & concerns that he got for this feature. He defends most of it on what he did for The Punisher. He chats about the visual style & the music used for this. He is very passionate & detailed about the overall production. This track is full of information & stories from the film. It has a little over 3 minutes of “Deleted Scenes” with optional audio commentary from co-writer & director Jonathan Hensleigh. “Keepin It Real: The Punisher Stunts” is almost 28 minutes. It has interviews with the director/co-writer Jonathan Hensleigh, stunt coordinator Gary Hymes, actors Thomas Jane, Kevin Nash, & various crew members. It has all kinds of behind the scenes footage from the production. It gives you inside look of all the chaos done during this film.
“Army of One: The Punisher Origins” is almost 13 minutes. It has interviews with Marvel C.E.O Avi Arad, comic writer/creator Gerry Conway, comic artist John Romita Sr., comic writer Garth Ennis, & various other people involved with the character. They talk about how the iconic character was created. They show the various versions of Frank Castle. They chat about his development & changes over the years. “War Journal: On Set of The Punisher” is almost 30 minutes. It has interviews with various people involved with the feature. It shows pre production & talks about how they had to cut an important scene from the beginning. They chat about having half the time & budget for this. They talks about why they picked Thomas Jane as Frank Castle. It has various behinds the scenes footage from the set. They discuss battling weather conditions during filming. They bring up the effects used in the film. They mention the actors & characters that show up in this story. It goes into the post production for The Punisher. The director chats about his original cut & a sub plot that was removed from the movie. They showcase the score & feature coverage of the music being made for this. “Downing Pool – Step Up” music video from the soundtrack. “Drawing Blood: Bradstreet Style” is a little over 6 minutes. It focuses on the creation of the poster artwork from comic artist Tim Bradstreet. It goes over Tim’s history with the character. It shows his various work over the years. It also comes with a blu ray, a digital code, & a slipcover. This NEW 4K release is more than an improvement on picture & sound quality, it also brings back all the extras from the original DVD release that weren’t on the blu ray! This release is available everywhere right now, check it out!!!!