The Punisher (1989) (mini-review++)

(If you’re curious, my review process. It’s also pasted at the end of this post. I don’t believe in Rotten Tomatoes. I just believe in me.)

(***all-purpose SPOILER ALERT*** there may be some in this review)

acting 5

directing 5

effects 5

editing 5

writing 5


2.5 out of 5 🐙


In 1989, the movie I remember more than any other was Batman, Tim Burton’s resurrection of the comic book movie industry. Unfortunately, it would be the last good movie in that particular Batman franchise. But that’s not important here. I don’t even remember hearing about The Punisher and I was (and still am) a comic book geek. To be fair, I’ve never been a Punisher fan, so maybe that’s why it made no mark for me.

There’s not a lot to like here. In the most generous approach, you could look at this as a cheesy 80s action movie that has become an unintentional comedy. You have Frank Castle (Dolph Lundgren; why did they keep casting blondes as The Punisher), the aggrieved hero who is unjustly pulled back into the fray after his family is threatened (Trope 1). Lundgren embraces the Schwarzeneggerian school of action acting: speak seldomly, and when you do, make it a quip, or better yet, a pun (Trope 2). Attempt to mow down as many bad guys as possible with automatic gunfire and/or any other available munitions (Trope 3). Cast Louis Gossett Jr. as an older mentor figure (Trope 4). Mix in some gratuitous nudity (but surprisingly, this time it’s male!). When in doubt, more explosions (at one point, one truck blew up three times!) (Trope 5). Employ the worst actors available and cast them as henchmen for the main boss (Trope 6).

Unfortunately, it executes all of these tropes poorly. But the cheesy 80s quality effects and explosion choreography do make some great comic moments. But Lundgren is wooden and the rest of the cast is barely better. The dialogue is as clumsy as the effects, and the plot is not inventive.

Unless you want to punish yourself, stay away from this joint. (That is unless you want to have a laugh at what’s effectively an 80s action B movie)









(1) Shark Wrighter (SW) Score: Based on a sum of 5 sub-scores (acting, directing, writing/story, effects: cinematography &/or animation &/or effects, editing) with 1 being terrible and 10 being terrific.

(2) Octopuses (0-5 🐙, with 5 being fantastic and 0 being feces)

(3) Octopuses are my unquantifiable feeling…not that SW score is scientific…but this one is even less so

(4) ++ This optional section includes any incredibly *brilliant observations that don’t fit into simple quantitative slices like the scores and octopuses *(they are likely NOT brilliant)

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