Poor Punisher: War Zone. This movie never even had a fucking chance. Not only did it have the reputation of two shitty previous Punisher movies to live down, but it was also a small budget R-rated superhero movie that came out the same year as Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. I bet most of you don’t even know that this movie exists, and I would doubt any of you have seen it. And that’s a goddamn shame because this movie kicks fucking ass. Not only does it feel exactly like how I remember Punisher from the few 90’s issues of War Journal that I own, but it’s a great action/horror movie in it’s own right. Ok, that might be going a little far. There are definitely a few things that hold it back. All the visual effects in the movie look pretty bad. I know this is a budgetary thing more than anything, so I don’t want to hold it against the filmmakers, but there are a few really cool moments that are ruined by crappy CGI. There’s also a kid in the movie, who like most kids in movies, is both a terrible actor and totally shoe-horned into the plot. Fortunately, her role is rather small, and it’s more than adequately made up for by the incredible amounts of gratuitous violence. And that’s where this movie really shines. The awesome, awesome violence. It’s not really that “gory”, but it’s also not just a straight up gun-fest either. What this movie has that I wish more movies of similar genres would have is a lot of really creative kills. Nobody ever dies the same way twice, and the film constantly has you guessing what kind of horrible shit we’re gonna see happen to someone next. The movie also has a great cast. The two obvious stand-outs are Ray Stevenson, who’s gruff, stoic Frank Castle/Punisher is easily the best out of all three, and Dominic West, who’s villainous Jigsaw (no relation) feels like a cross between Michael Corleone and Gary Oldman’s character from Hannibal. It’s a shame this movie never got the recognition it deserved, because I would have loved to see a sequel. However, when Marvel eventually reboots the character into their own cinematic universe, Punisher: War Zone will be the standard of quality that I compare it to.
Overall Rating: Hidden Gem/10