This week on the B movie docket is Punisher War Zone.
Hello good people. And welcome to 50 B Movies: The Sequel. It’s bigger, better, and badder. The original 50 b Movies covered a wide range of B Movies. There was everything from Thankskilling 3 to The Void. Some films were funny. Some were unintentionally funny. And some were mainstream with far-out concepts like zombie tigers. All in all, it was a hell of a list.
Why make a sequel? Because narrowing down a list of 50 B Movies To See Before You Die was arduous. With so many movies to watch, one can never really know if the movie is good. Sure sometimes 5 minutes in, you know it is a real stinker. Other times it might take a half an hour before one realizes they will never get that half hour back to their life. Poof. Gone. But all in all there are many great B Movies that didn’t make the original list.
So welcome back if you are a LRM reader and welcome if it’s your first time here. Be forewarned we will be treading deep into the bush to pull these B Movies. We aren’t rehashing anyone’s previous 50 or 100 or 1000 B Movies list. Nope. So, prepare yourself for 50 B Movies To See Before You Die: The Sequel. Bigger. Better. Badder. Oooh yeah.
WEEK 13 – Punisher – War Zone (2008)
Frank Castle is played by Rome’s Ray Stevenson in one of the pre-Marvel/Disney superhero films. You need to watch this because there is no playing it safe. And there is stuff on display here, that you’d be very lucky to ever see in another Marvel movie in the future. I was surprised by just how much director Lexi Alexander who is better known for directing Green Street Hooligans leans into the bloody mayhem.
Frank Castle, aka The Punisher (Ray Stevenson), turns the streets of New York City red as he wages a one man war against the crime syndicate responsible for the death of his wife and two kids. Aided by his trusted sidekick, Microchip (Wayne Knight), he almost kills Billy Russoti (Dominic West) and leaves him horribly disfigured. Billy renames himself Jigsaw and with the help of his crazed brother Loony Bin Jim, recruits criminals from every corner of the city to do battle with Frank.
Well, that about sums it up. The Punisher is turning the streets of New York City into Iwo jima. There are buckets of blood, and viscera. Also Jigsaw, Micro, and Loony Bin Jim! I am not sure why Loony Bin Jim’s name doesn’t appear in the synopsis. Maybe because he’s made the %%%% up! Wait. I know they are all fictional characters and qualify as all being made up, but Looney Bin Jim is really made the &&&& up! The dude is not in the comics. In fact, his sole purpose seems to be to upstage the true Irish [email protected] Maginty that was written with an inherent madness and poetry by comics wizard Garth Ennis. Instead here Maginty does parkour, because…
Parkour Is For Bad Guys
There was a time during the early 2000’s when parkour was fresh and unseen to most people. Because of this, many Hollywood films began to utilize characters that could perform parkour. Don’t get me wrong, Parkour is exciting to watch. Hollywood sure felt there was something untapped there. Suddenly edgy characters were made even edgier as they pounced off of walls, ledges, and buildings.
I know a lot of movies today don’t utilize this character trait. Because Punisher War Zone was released in the early 2000’s, 2008 to be exact there, there’s parkour. Not only one character doing parkour, but an entire gang of parkour enthusiasts. They are led by Maginty. He did not do parkour in the comics. But why not make an edgy gang edgier? Why not have them do parkour? There is one scene in particular that drives home just how much the gang here likes parkour. Maginty about to make an exit, and he asks Jigsaw if he minds if he takes the roof.
Batman Saves / Punisher Kills
The Punisher and The Batman have a lot of similarities when it comes to character. There are even more similarities than the fact both characters like their black wardrobes. Both have a guy as their backup, though the Bruce/Alfred dynamic is a bit different than the Frank/Micro duo. They are motivated by vengeance, trying to fill the hole where a heart used to be with as many criminals as possible. Though Batman saves lives, and The Punisher kills.
And there is a lot of that in Punisher War Zone. In a movie where the mob is quick to commit murder on screen, The Punisher vastly outnumbers their count with a grand total of 81 dead bad guys. 81 is a heck of a lot, especially for a Marvel movie. Alas this is The Punisher. For comparison John Wick’s tally of bad guys is 77.
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The Punisher has killed so many bad guys violently with guns that Marvel comics has taken his guns away. Today he wields swords, and if he’s ever adapted to the big screen again in today’s studio climate he will most definitely save more than he kills, and when he kills it will be with a sword.
A B Movie From Marvel
There was once a time long ago that was the wild west of super hero movies. The filmmakers and studios hadn’t quite nailed down the concept of them yet. There quality was all over the board. For every Blade there was a Daredevil. There was no road map. Studios had to map uncharted territory slashing through the bush hoping to find that giant payday. The chances of Marvel letting B movies out of the gate again are slim. So B Movies from Marvel are gems.
Watch Punisher War Zone to see The Punisher swing upside down on a chandelier and take out bad guys. Today that seems like something more for a character like Deadpool to engage in; swinging upside down wildly from a chandelier. But the year was 2008 and it was a no mans land for comic books. Movies were far more serious fare. I doubt anyone ever thought to themselves when is The Fantastic Four going to get an Oscar? But that was then, and this is now, so watch Punisher War Zone for a bit of carefree nostalgia. It is a fun ride.
Does an axe wielding bad guy that says “I asked you a question, pronouncing ask more like axe while preparing to assault someone qualify as cheese? I think so and believe others might agree. Because he even says it again like “let me axe you one more time”. It is raining cheese in this version of NYC so bring your rain boots and a bucket of popcorn. Then strap yourself in for a look at Marvel’s early days.
Because The Punisher uses swords in the funny pages now. Not in 2008 though. In 2008 Ray Stevenson played The Punsher and Newman from Seinfeld played his butler Micro. Of course I know his name’s not Newman. It’s Wayne Knight. But if I am being honest and I am being honest there’s something very Newmanish about this version of Micro. See if you can resist imagining Jerry Seinfeld saying Newman every time Wayne Knight’s on screen in Punisher Warzone.
Watch it where?
I picked up a copy on DVD from the local thrift shop, but that meant the copy wasn’t perfect. At times the picture would freeze, skip, and in the end I am not certain that I saw 100% of the movie. Of course I watched it back in 2008 when parkour was for bad guys so that has got me covered.