The 80’s were not kind to movies based on Marvel comic books. While DC was reaping the millions of dollars from Tim Burton’s Batman, Marvel had to be content with goofy made for TV movies like Captain
Dolph Lundgren stars as Frank Castle, a cop whose wife and child died in a car bombing that was meant for him. Castle; thought dead by the Mafioso who orchestrated the bombing, starts meditating naked in a sewer until he gets mad enough to blow away anyone remotely of Italian descent. Since Frank has wiped out most of the gangsters in the city, it leaves them vulnerable to a hostile takeover by the yakuza, who are led by an uptight Japanese broad. She kidnaps the son of big cheese Mafioso Jeroen (The Living Daylights) Krabbe who negotiates a truce with Castle long enough to rescue his son and blow away several kimono clad criminals.
It’s painfully obvious that this flick had a budget the size of a TJ Hooker episode, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Director Mark (Dead Heat) Goldblatt edited dozens of action flicks in his day, so he knows how to keep things popping along at a steady clip. He also gives us plenty of action and not a whole lot of gratuitous plot stuff (the Louis Gossett, Jr. subplot is handled fairly swiftly) to keep things from getting bogged down. The scene where Punisher crashes a casino is pretty tight and the final red-tinted yakuza massacre is excellent.
I’m tempted to give the movie four stars because the action scenes are handled nicely and Lundgren is perfectly cast as Castle. BUT… the thing that just pisses me the Hell off about this movie is that there is no skull on the Punisher’s T-shirt!!! What the fuck? How can you make a Punisher movie without the freakin’ skull on his shirt? That’s like making a Superman movie and having no ‘S’ on the costume. You know, if the filmmakers simply bothered to put a skull on the Punisher’s T-shirt it would have been a classic; since they didn’t it’s an automatic one star deduction.
They didn’t give Dolph a whole lot of lines in this one (wise decision) but he does get one great dialogue exchange with Gossett that is pretty classic:
Gossett: “What do you call 125 dead bodies in 5 years?”
Dolph: “A work in progress.”