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The Punisher: WarZone

Tim Bradstreet

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Sadly, Tim has not watched THE WIRE. But I'm a huge fan and got to meet Bubbles or actually, Andre Royo.


As for my opinion on the movie, and I am by no means speaking for Tim, this is solely my opinion...


Some day we'll get a great, serious, bad ass, well written, well acted, well directed PUNISHER movie. Some day. This ain't it.

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That was an awesome recount of the night. I'm really glad you got go out and get some quality industry time and have unbelievable fun while doing it. I'm sure you'll be getting a chance to do that on your own as your career continues to move forward.


Keep it up,


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I think you'll have to take his "Maryland is for crabs" refrigerator magnet until he sees it!




Brian has the first three seasons in the rental que for me, Can't wait.


I've mentioned this plenty before but way back when in 2003, before Jane was cast, I though Dominic West would have made a cool Punisher judging by some shots I saw of him as McNulty. Well, mainly ONE shot of McNulty ;)

Always wanted to see The Wire but missed most of the first season and didn't want to pick it up before I got caught up.



Steve G - I really wish I could have talked with you more last night. Hopefully we'll cross paths again soon so we can habla espaniol mate.

And not for nuthin' - your movie looked great.


- TB

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Brian has the first three seasons in the rental que for me, Can't wait.


I've mentioned this plenty before but way back when in 2003, before Jane was cast, I though Dominic West would have made a cool Punisher judging by some shots I saw of him as McNulty. Well, mainly ONE shot of McNulty ;)

Always wanted to see The Wire but missed most of the first season and didn't want to pick it up before I got caught up.


- TB


Tim, you need to see this bit of genius from The Wire. McNulty and Bunk, the famous crime scene.

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Yeah Mikey you got it right on the nose. If it's not Oscar worthy then it's crap. That's how it goes right? Jeeeez.


Not necessarily, the two big negatives for this movie seem to be some of the performances and dialouge, and I'd say those are pretty important in getting a good review. Like I said it seems that if you just embrace ridiculousness of it all it seems like it'll be enjoyable.


That's why I'm gonna get drunk when I see this movie. Low expectations and alcohol, two tastes that taste great together.

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From The Village Voice:

Punisher: War Zone Is a Slasher Movie with Guns


Article contains spoilers.

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Another Latino Review review:




Director(s):Lexi Alexander

MPAA Rating: R for pervasive strong brutal violence, language and some drug use.



Reviewed by: Ron Henriques - 12.02.08

I enjoy a good drama, an entertaining comedy, or a thought provoking film, with a decent story. But every once in a while that primal side of my brain is in the mood for a visceral experience. Something that may not make a lick of sense, but is hard hitting and brutal. Sometimes the ridiculous nature of such material can be hilarious, because we know "it's only a movie". 'Punisher: War Zone' doesn't rank up there with great action films and in fact isn't even a good one. Yet watching Ray Stevenson literally blow guys heads off in systematic fashion just may be one of the highlights of my year at the movies.


British born Stevenson may be best known as Titus Pullo from the now defunct HBO hit series 'Rome'. His interpretation of former lawman Frank Castle turned vigilante The Punisher makes Thomas Jane's previous portrayal look like a failed screen test. Stevenson doesn't even have to speak much because he conducts himself like a man literally carrying an army of demons on his back. Where Jane tried to portray The Punisher as a former James Bond type Fed who worked undercover and employed various disguises, Stevenson is a straightforward former law man who gets pissed his family were gun downed after witnessing a mob execution and decides to take it out on the world. What this film lacks in plot and fully dimensional antagonists it makes up for in bloody thrills.


Gale Anne Hurd and her producing team seem well aware that they screwed up creating the previous film and the fact that she's married to its director Jonathan Hensleigh probably blinded her from that truth for quite some time. It's not like they set out to make a worse film than the original Dolph Lundgren offering, but let's face it, Jane as well as the villainous John Travolta turned that film into a terrible SNL skit. Much like she did with this summer's 'The Incredible Hulk', this new Punisher is a reboot and like the last film it is very funny, but not in the way you imagine. Casting Stevenson was the key, because sometimes all an audience wants to see is a tough guy terminate, I mean kill people. Within the first ten minutes, he wipes out a mob family by snapping necks, pulverizing faces and even stabbing the top of heads with his knife like they were pumpkins. Even women aren't safe as he breaks the neck of a mob guy's moll when she tries to protect him and its safe to say this bunch won't live to see dessert. Stevenson is so tough that he even resets his broken nose by shoving a pencil up his nostril and snapping it into place.


The NYPD (though this film looks like it was shot in Canada) are full aware of who the Punisher is and frankly don't care. They're too busy building cases to take down mob families and if a vigilante can help them do it faster then why not. That doesn't sit well with a federal agent played by Colin Salmon of James Bond fame. Early in the picture Stevenson shoots a mob enforcer while storming a factory and doesn't realize until its too late that he was Salmon's partner, an undercover operative. Now that he's taken the man away from his wife (Julie Benz) and daughter, Stevenson is actually feeling guilty about shooting first and asking questions later and tries to act as a guardian for the pair from a safe distance.


Having The Punisher show his emotional side sounds like a downer for this type of film because we want to see him kill and blow sh*t up. On top of that we want to see some good bad guys. The villains in this picture aren't much better than the last one and instead of intelligent and intense performances in the style of say a James Bond villain, we get a low rate Hannibal Lector with Leatherface as his brother. Dominic West, the brilliant star of that other HBO series 'The Wire' disappears behind heavy make-up as a vain playboy type mobster who gets his face disfigured after The Punisher drops him in a glass bottle crushing machine. Now known as Jigsaw (not that Jigsaw who always wants "to play a game"), the man is understandably upset over the loss of his looks and seeks revenge by taking out his frustrations on the widow Benz and her daughter. To up the stakes (or make the antagonists look even goofier), West busts his insane cannibalistic older brother Doug Hutchinson out of an asylum who goes by the name "Looney Bin Jim". Hutchinson may be familiar for his other cannibalistic role as the monstrous Eugene Tooms on the 'X-Files' and though he has put in solid work in films like 'The Green Mile', he's nothing more than a Little Italy's version of Hannibal Lector.


Though the brothers attempt to complete an arms deal and rally and army to defeat The Punisher, they are one of the least interesting things about the film. Just about all of the bad guys are cartoon characters in the worst way possible. They may be insane, but its a little tough to believe that West and Hutchinson aren't even the least bit scared by a 6'5" vigilante who will destroy half the city to get to them.


It would have been nice if Hurd and director Lexi Alexander avoided some of the James Bond elements that plague the story--in this case, the addition of Wayne Knight as The Punisher's "Q" type weapons dealer "Micro". Knight actually looks like he's a successful product of the Slim Fast diet and isn't the fat pig we remember that brought down 'Jurassic Park'. But he's really an unnecessary element and if you're looking for Newman from 'Seinfeld' look somewhere else, because he fails to be funny.


What is funny is the cartoon violence that Stevenson engages in to kill people. Seems like he has a weapon for every situation and is gonna be pretty pissed if he hasn't used every single one by film's end. Though he tries to emotionally connect with Benz and her daughter while protecting them, it doesn't work since he looks like he'd be happier just killing people.


CGI can be a wonderful tool in cinema. It can be used to create vast and mythical landscapes like in 'The Lord of the Rings', make us fall in love with intelligent robots like 'Wall-E' or realistically showcase just what a shotgun blast can do to a guy's face like this film. You can't deny the realism of prosthetic make-up, but there's something jolting and insanely pleasurable about seeing bad guys go from looking normal to losing half their heads in the split second it takes for the hero to pull the trigger. 'Punisher: War Zone' opens strongly with such violence and they starts to peter out when we get into the character's emotional guilt over killing an undercover agent. Just when I started to hate the film for becoming bland or looking like a Sprite commercial with a sequence involving a group of acrobatic thieves, my reverie was interrupted by the familiar streaking sound of a rocket propelled grenade. Many of the Punisher's victims that are dispatched by rocket or shotgun blast should consider themselves lucky, because if you end up merely maimed or cut in half after one of his attacks he has far more gruesome plans in store for you.


If you're looking for a compelling comic book story involving a battle of wit and intelligence between the hero and the villain, I think it's safe to see 'The Dark Knight' (again). If you want just a badass hero blowing sh*t up left and right with a nonsensical story to boot, look no further. This ain't no masterpiece, but at least its got more thrills and (unintentional) humor than similar genre pics like 'Max Payne' or 'Transporter 3'. Will there be a 'Punisher 3' (or 4?)? Probably not. But the fun here is great while it lasts.



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I beat you to that one nomad booyah

Oh! Sorry! :unsure: How about this one?


Ray Stevenson may be the star of the new ''Punisher'' movie, ''Punisher : War Zone'' (The ''Rome'' star replaces Thomas Jane who opted not to return as vigilante Frank Castle a second time) but there’s another star of the show, albeit unseen – Jeff Wolfe, the veteran stuntman who doubles for the bulky Stevenson. CLINT MORRIS caught up with the expert daredevil to talk about his involvement in this year’s most brutal comic-book movie!


How did you get involved in The Punisher War Zone?


I received a call from Lionsgate that the Director, Lexi Alexander, saw my stuff from her long-time Stunt Coordinator friend Pat Johnson. I had no Idea what the show was, so when they told me it was a new take on The Punisher, I did my best not to completely geek out! I’d been a fan of the comic since I was a kid, and from what Lexi told me of her vision of Frank Castle, I immediately wanted in!


Is a requirement for stuntmen/women to look a little like the actor they’re doubling for?


Yes, height and build have to be pretty similar. The face isn’t so important, that would be asking a lot. I got lucky with Ray because we are the same size head to toe. We’ve done two films together now and most people who meet us think we’re related, although that could be more about our interaction as friends…I’m the little brother he never wanted! [Laughs]


What kind of relationship did you and Ray have- close, or was he a little jealous that he wasn’t the one getting to do the ‘fun’ stuff?


Our relationship was unlike any I’ve seen in fourteen years of film work. Ray and I met in Montreal six weeks before starting the film. We were there to train together, choreograph fights, and learn Franks’ military style from Jon Barton of Gunmetal. A few nights into the training we met on the rooftop patio of our hotel and Ray proceeded to tell me that I was going to be sharing the role of The Punisher with him! Most stunt doubles, especially in action roles understand that although this may be the truth, it’s never recognized, let alone verbalised by the lead of the film! He went on to say how important it was going to be, to be seamless on screen and therefore I would be privy to his character and the choices he’d made to portray, that way whoever is in front of the camera for a scene, Frank Castle was always the same. It’s brilliant, really, but too few actors have the self-confidence to see that stunt people only add to their characters’ world. We have an understanding… I don’t speak for him, and he doesn’t jump off buildings for me!


Tell me about some of the ‘fun’ stuff you got to do in the new film?


Well, I showed up to a table full of almost every kind of automatic weapon imaginable. J.B. ( Barton from Gunmetal) put me through the ringer with all kinds of tactical combat stuff ( sorry, not the technical term!). I’m sure you’ve seen the Chandelier hang with the twin guns… that was awesome to do! And the jump across the alleyway from the fourth floor scaffolding to the second floor balcony, that was great also. Of course, being that it was about 20 degrees outside, I was just happy to finally crash through the boards and window and get inside!! The thing that was most fun though, was the first time I put the vest on. When you know a character that well, and you look in the mirror and you’re him, It’s like every kids dream of being the super-hero… nothing tops that!


You’re also a martial-artist. Were you required to use it for this film?


Well, Frank is a bear. Fluid and smooth he ‘aint, so I needed to reign in on some of my martial arts flash and incorporate more of a heavy-weight boxer mentality to his moves. Ray was great with this because he knew him so well from the start, it made it easy to come up with what Frank would do in any given situation. There’s no butterfly kicks coming from Castle… it just doesn’t work!


Have you seen the film yet? How’s it look –action packed?


I’ve seen some cuts a couple of months ago. That was before it was locked and had the soundtrack and it was fantastic then! I can’t wait to see the final! Ray and I had a running joke that we were keeping a body count of the bad guys… let’s just say halfway through, we had to give that up! It’s what a Punisher film should be, let me just say that.


How did you get into the stunt-game?


I played the role of Billy the kid in Once Upon a Time in China and America opposite Jet Li. Sammo Hung directed it and took me to Hong Kong after. We did a horrible Van Damme movie called Knock Off, then it was back to the states to do Martial Law the T.V. show. I was a starving actor, paying the bills by teaching martial arts when a few stunt guys I was beating up told me I should think about doing stunts… the rest as they say…;-)


And what kind of martial-arts do you do? Also, which film showcases your martial-arts the best?


I started with Ju-Jitsu for seven years when I was fourteen, then moved to Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido and finally Wushu for weapons and all the flash that film requires. Any time you see a fall or roll that looks like it would have hurt, I have the Ju-Jitsu to thank for being able to get back up again! I guess the weapon work has been showcased best in all the Pirates of the Caribbean films I’ve been blessed to do, as well as The Scorpion King with the Rock. I doubled the bad guy and did all the double sword work.


Ever had any serious injuries?


Cracked ribs, broken fingers, pinched nerves, bone bruises, torn ACL, sprained ankles, etc… nothing serious.


Who is the best actor you’ve worked with?


I’ve worked with some greats in the business. Johnny Depp, Pierce Brosnan, Sam Jackson, Viggo Mortensen, Jackie chan and so on… All great guys who are fantastic at what they do. I would have to say that Ray stands out to me though, because not only is he amazing at what he does ( have you seen ROME?? Pullo Kills! ) but he’s a man’s man. Not an ounce of prima donna there. He’s lived a real life and I think that’s what gives him so much to draw on in his characters. Sorry if it sounds like I’m biased, with the film and all, but any way I cut it, it’s the truth!


What’s next for you, Jeff?


There are some things on the table right now, but my hope is Punisher hits big and we can do more! I’m selfish… I just want to put the skull back on!





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Great interview with the Wolfe ;)

What a great guy.


Also - I'm all about people sharing their feelings about a film they've seen. If they want to call themselves reviewers or critics, whatever, so be it.

What I do find infinitely disagreeable is this shit I'm reading wherein some of these folks are tossing Jane under a bus.

I'd love to know what some of these people thought about Tom's performance at the time, 'cause if I remember correctly, even when the film itself was coming under heavy fire the one thing almost everybody agreed on was that Tom's performance and dedication to the role were undeniable. If you have a problem with the movie itself or the direction that's a whole seperate issue. Seems like somehow these guys are now blaming Jane for things more to do with story and direction - and that's a load of absolute BS. Sounds personal to me. Why else take an opportunity to insult a fella in public?


Remember, this is a guy who dedicated himself unconditionally to step into this character's body and mind.

In 2004 he was almost universally praised for this.

Ray himself told me that Tom's dedication was inspiring to him and that it set the bar.


Inevitably Tom's 2004 Punisher film is going to be the set-up for almost every Warzone review, and people are going to take their shots . . . Just the nature of the beast, I understand that.


All I'm saying is, don't be so quick to disrespect a guy who ate, drank, slept, breathed, and BLED this character for US, the fans because he was passionate about the material.


This is not a case of Punisher actor bias either. I've been praising and defending Ray on these boards since moment ONE and I have tremendous respect for both of these guys. It's just disappointing and frustrating to see some attitudes go the way of a fickle (and sometimes pandering) mob mentality.


- TB

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What I do find infinitely disagreeable is this shit I'm reading wherein some of these folks are tossing Jane under a bus.


Couldn't agree more, though I've only read one review that openly disses on Tom. Toms Punisher may not have been everyones idea of the Punisher, but it was definitely HIS Punisher, you can't knock Toms commitment to his roles.


I hope Hollywood gets its finger out of its arse and gives Tom some serious lead roles, I heard talk of a Blade Runner sequel... If they really have to make a sequel perhaps Tom could have the lead, and Ray as the villian!




PS. Another good review in...



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This review made me laugh, especially the last paragraph:


Punisher: War Zone

It Will Blow Up Your Feelings Contributing Writer

By: Marco Mannone


There is a general misconception across the globe that Hollywood is an industry ruled by greed. And from the outside looking in, this does seem like an accurate portrayal. But for those of us crawling around its dark belly, we know the real name of the game is not greed, but fear. Hollywood is ruled by fear.


Every morning, thousands of creative executives get out of bed with the abject terror of having to make and endorse narrative decisions that will ultimately affect how a movie is made. For most, this pressure is too great to fathom. Drugs, alcohol, and frequent trips to Palm Springs are the only things that can come close to remedying this constant state of paralysis. When they sober up or fly back into town, their problems are indeed left waiting for them: How to make the protagonist flawed but sympathetic? How to beef up the love story without making it contrived? Too much exposition? Too little resolution? For most people, these are not daily crises. For creative executives, each panicked decision is a step closer to total nervous collapse.


It is with this kept in mind that I am left in awe that a movie like Punisher: War Zone ever got written, green-lit, funded, shot, edited, and released. In a day and age when even Rambo must have a soft side, P:WZ comes at us like an unapologetic bazooka to the face. Riding the white-hot coat-tails of Marvel Comics’ greatest year (Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk), P:WZ, like the latest Hulk, is half-sequel/half-remake to its predecessor: 2004’s lame attempt at bringing Frank Castle and his guns to life, starring Thomas Jane and John Travolta. Punisher ‘04 was lit like an episode of The A-Team and had as much punch as Pee-Wee Herman. (Sorry, Dolph, but we’ll mercifully neglect to mention your 1989 Punisher.)


Enter German filmmaker Lexi Alexander. In a world where a black man can be President of the United States, it should come as no surprise that a woman directed 2008’s most brutal action movie. Not since Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break, Strange Days) has a woman thrown down the proverbial balls most male directors are afraid to use. Alexander — a former kickboxing champion — utilizes every inch of her combative training to turn The Punisher into the snarling scud-missile of revenge he has been in comic books for 34 years. Under Alexander’s visionary direction, it’s as if Blade Runner and Sin City made love while listening to Metallica and gave birth to this movie as a result.


Flashing only brief glimpses of back-story (Frank Castle’s wife and kids were killed by the mafia, turning him into a killing machine), P:WZ throws us right into the action, as The Punisher shoots fish in a barrel at a crime family dinner. Two repercussions threaten to shatter The Punisher’s grip on crime: his accidental slaying of an undercover officer and the emergence of mafia prince Billy Russoti (a dashingly evil Dominic West) as the facially-disfigured Jigsaw.


The Punisher is devastated that he has widowed the wife of the informant (an appropriately no-frills Julie Benz) and left his daughter fatherless. This sub-plot is the only human thread unraveling an otherwise inhumane sweater, providing The Punisher with a desperate need for redemption. As portrayed by Rome alumni Ray Stevenson, The Punisher is tall, dark, and very, very, very serious. An occasional close-up of his steely eyes reveal the makings of never-realized tears that allude to the fact he used to be a mortal, as it should be.


To help him defeat The Punisher, Jigsaw breaks his brother, “Loony Bin Jim,” out of an asylum, and together they enlist all of [shooting location] Montreal’s — ahem, I mean “New York City’s” — crime families to do very bad things. As ”LBJ,” veteran villain Doug Hutchison (The Green Mile) clearly has the most fun eating people’s livers, head-butting mirrors, and meowing like a kitty-cat in a performance that resembles Hannibal Lector’s son with A.D.D. The antagonists are over-the-top, the protagonist is totally understated, and in place of a contrived love-story exists a hail of bullets that rains down on the viewer like a perpetual monsoon of mayhem. In the wise words of Marvel founder Stan Lee, ’nuff said.


One could suggest a drinking game in which you do a shot every time someone’s head explodes into 87 bloody pieces, but this would surely result in alcohol-poisoning long before the third act. Punisher: War Zone is best enjoyed relatively sober and with the refreshing knowledge that once in a rare while, an action movie doesn’t give a crap about your damn feelings.


Creative executives, be very afraid.


Marco Mannone is a writer and actor living on the West Side of Hollywood.







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