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Lexi Alexander
Ray Stevenson, Dominic West, Julie Benz
Writing Credits:
Nick Santora, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway

Vigilante Frank Castle goes after an entire mob family.

Box Office:
$35 million.
Opening Weekend
$4,271,451 on 2508 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 103 min.
Price: $9.99
Release Date: 3/17/2009

• Audio Commentary with Director Lexi Alexander and Director of Photography Steve Gainer
• “The Making of Punisher: War Zone” Featurette
• “Meet Jigsaw” Featurette
• “Weapons of The Punisher” Featurette
• “Training to Become The Punisher” Featurette
• “Creating the Look of the Film” Featurette
• Previews


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-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


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Punisher: War Zone [Blu-Ray] (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 23, 2018)

Though 2004’s The Punisher failed to do much at the box office, the studio decided to give a second chapter the green light. This led to 2008’s Punisher: War Zone, a financial flop that ended the franchise until a Netflix series hit screens in 2017.

In the first film, Frank Castle (Ray Stevenson) adopted the vigilante person of The Punisher after the brutal murder of his family. Frank continues his one-man army ways and attempts to eradicate organized crime.

When Frank takes down one group, he accidentally leaves mob enforcer Billy Russotti (Dominic West) alive – and badly deformed. Rechristened “Jigsaw”, Billy turns into a major threat that Frank needs to address.

Zone came out in a big year for comic book movies, as both Dark Knight and Iron Man finished 1-2 at the box office. A rare superhero flick not based on established material, Hancock made it to number four on the year-end tally.

Zone? Number 152.

Ouch. Granted, I doubt anyone expected megamillions from a brutal, dark “R”-rated tale like Zone, but its $8 million US still seems awfully poor. Why Lionsgate released a film like this in early December – family movie season – stands as a mystery.

Not that I can claim Zone would’ve performed better at any other time of year, and I certainly won’t argue it deserved a superior fate. Derivative and borderline incoherent, Zone turns into a chore to watch.

While the first Punisher offered a violent tale, Zone makes it look like Teletubbies. Zone delivers extreme, graphic material in a film aimed at wide release, and the gore feels like an entity unto itself.

This means the nastiness often comes across as completely gratuitous. Unlike something such as Saving Private Ryan, the bloodiness doesn’t serve to convey the reality of war, so instead it simply becomes a cheap way for the filmmakers to prompt a reaction.

Another major problem comes from the movie’s wildly inconsistent sense of tone. While it occasionally indulged in some lighter moments, the 2004 film remained dramatic most of the time and it portrayed a logical feeling of continuity in that regard.

Not the case with Zone, which can’t decide if it wants to be Sam Peckinpah or Sam Raimi. Scenes of dire emotional distress bounce willy-nilly off wacky black comedy in a manner that doesn’t work at all.

If Zone wanted to go dramatic, that’d be fine. If it wanted to veer campy, that’d be fine, too. The attempt to have it both ways fails miserably.

The cast reflects this lack of integration, and the actors often feel like they signed on for different films. West embraces his inner Nicholson as the Joker-esque Jigsaw, though West goes so far over the top he makes Jack’s turn in 1989’s Batman look like a portrait in somber realism.

Dear God, does West chow down scenery! He doesn’t even wait until his transformation into Jigsaw, as West’s Billy becomes one of the most exaggerated Italian mobster characters committed to film.

The problem here isn’t so much that West and others camp it up, it’s that the broadly portrayed characters need to interact with those played straight, and this doesn’t work. There’s no sense of union among these discrepant poles, so along with the rollercoaster of tone changes, the choices become jarring.

It doesn’t help that the movie can’t tell its story in a vaguely coherent manner. At its core, Zone comes with a simple enough narrative, but as depicted, it gets absurdly complicated.

This means the viewer may lose track of plot points as the film progresses – and that same viewer probably won’t care. An orgy of violence without any purpose or coherence, War Zone stinks.

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

Punisher: War Zone appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not bad, the transfer seemed disappointing given the movie’s vintage.

Overall sharpness felt fine. Some wider shots leaned toward the soft side of the street, but nothing egregious occurred, and most of the film boasted accurate visuals.

The image lacked jagged edges or moiré effects, and I saw no edge haloes. While not dominant, print flaws popped up a bit more than expected, as I saw occasional small specks.

Unsurprisingly, Zone went with a highly stylized palette that tended toward a lot of strong yellows, blues, greens and reds. These showed exaggerated tones that felt appropriate for the over the top nature of the film.

Blacks seemed a bit too dense, as detail in dark clothing got lost much of the time. Shadows felt appropriate, with good definition in low-light shots. The movie remained more than watchable but it probably should’ve looked better.

I felt more pleased with the film’s DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack. With a fair amount of action on display, the mix used the channels in an involving manner throughout the majority of the film.

This meant gunfire and other mayhem all around the room, and the elements connected in a concise, smooth manner. Add to that music as a bold partner and the soundscape turned into an aggressive piece much of the time.

Audio quality always satisfied. Music was dynamic and full, and effects followed suit.

Those components came across as accurate and well-developed. Speech seemed distinctive and crisp, without edginess or other issues. Everything impressed in this strong soundtrack.

When we shift to extras, we launch with an audio commentary from director Lexi Alexander and director of photography Steve Gainer. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters, sets and locations, cinematography and production design, music, editing, stunts, and connected areas.

From start to finish, Alexander and Gainer deliver a lively discussion. They cover a nice array of subjects and do so in a peppy manner, factors that help make this a winning commentary.

A few featurettes follow, and we start with The Making of Punisher: War Zone. It goes for nine minutes, two seconds and includes Alexander, Gainer, producer Gale Anne Hurd, co-producer Jack Murray, and actors Ray Stevenson, Dominic West, Julie Benz, Colin Salmon, Dash Mihok, Wayne Knight and Doug Hutchison.

“Making” covers attempts to replicate the source, various production challenges, characters, cast and performances. A few good nuggets emerge but this mainly feels like a promo piece.

Next comes Meet Jigsaw, a three-minute, 34-second reel with West, Alexander, Benz, Stevenson and visual effects supervisor Robert Short. We get some notes about West’s performance and the work done to bring the character’s look to life. Like the prior show, it tosses out a smattering of useful material but it lacks much depth.

With Weapons of The Punisher, we get a four-minute, 39-second piece with Stevenson, Alexander, weapons supervisor Paul Barrette, and military advisor Jon Barton. As expected, the show details the guns used in the film. It becomes a passable overview.

Training to Become The Punisher lasts five minutes, 47 seconds and involves Stevenson, Alexander, action sequence supervisor Pat Johnson. Mainly we see footage from rehearsals, as Stevenson worked through action elements. Those elements make it a decent look behind the scenes.

Finally, Creating the Look of the Film runs two minutes, 46 seconds and includes Gainer, Alexander, production designer Andrew Neskoromny and costume designer Odette Gadoury. It discusses aspects of the movie’s visual design and brings a short but competent reel.

The disc opens with ads for Crank 2: High Voltage, The Haunting in Connecticut, Transporter 3, Saw V, The Spirit, Hulk Vs. and The Burrowers. We also find the traiiler for War Zone.

A super-violent package with little story involved, Punisher: War Zone exists mainly as 103 minutes of gore. Few positives materialize in this messy, loud experience. The Blu-ray brings decent visuals as well as very good audio and supplements led by a nice commentary. Zone fails become a quality action tale.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 7
4 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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