The Curator of Schlock #24 by Jeffrey Shuster
The Punisher: Send in the Yakuza!
If any vigilante can give Paul Kersey a run for his money, it’s Frank Castle, AKA The Punisher. Based on the Marvel comic book of the same name, 1989’s The Punisher from director Mark Goldblatt is an exercise in excess, but we could use a dose of excess after last week’s snoozefest.
Dolf Lundgren plays Frank Castle, an ex-cop whose wife and two daughters were murdered by the Franco crime family. Castle retaliates by becoming the vigilante known as The Punisher. At the beginning of the movie, The Punisher has killed over 125 organized crime members. To have that body count when we’re not even five minutes into the movie is a good sign.
Now The Punisher doesn’t just use guns to kill people. Knives, bombs, nooses. All are employed in his quest for vengeance or punishment as he calls it. Don’t worry. He prays to God naked in the sewer everyday to get the okay. He’s also friends with a homeless, alcoholic thespian with a penchant for speaking in rhymes so his life isn’t all doom and gloom. Of course, hot on his trail is Detective Jake Berkowitz (Lois Gossett, Jr.) who wants to catch The Punisher.
Gianni Franco flies in from overseas in an effort to unite all of the Mafia families under one roof. Seems as though The Punisher has taken a toll on their organizations and consolidation is the only way they can maintain power. So it looks as though we’re headed for an all out dust up between every Mafia family there is and The Punisher. And then the Yakuza show up…with ninjas…and throwing stars…and they start to attack the Mafia.
The ruthless Lady Tanaka heads the Yakuza and she has decided that the Yakuza need to take over organized crime in America. When Gianni Franco refuses to submit to the Yakuza’s demands of being their loyal lapdog, Lady Tanaka orders the kidnapping of all the little children of the Mafia families. Even after the Mafia families pay the ransom, she still plans to sell the children into slavery. And when the captains go to meet with her to negotiate, she poisons them. So yeah, Lady Tanaka is extra evil!
Still, never let it be said that The Punisher didn’t have a soft spot for children. He brings down a rain of holy terror on the Yakuza blowing up their casino and telling them he’ll cost them money everyday the children are held captive.
The Punisher goes to investigate further and uncovers a nest of Yakuza ninjas. They capture The Punisher and attach him to an electric rack. Will the Punisher escape and attached the Yakuza torturer to the electric rack? Will the Punisher rescue the kids only to be arrested by the police? Will Gianni Franco break The Punisher out of prison so he can rescue Franco’s son from the Yakuza? I’m not going to tell you. You’ll have to watch the movie.
Ten Things I Learned from The Punisher
- Ninjas use machine guns as well as throwing stars. Whatever works.
- You can’t negotiate with Yakuza.
- You can negotiate with The Punisher, but keep in mind that he’ll kill you once the deal is done.
- Don’t bring a katana to a gunfight.
- Don’t poison the champaign. Poison the glasses.
- Don’t threaten The Punisher. He’ll blow up your mansion with you in it.
- Speaking in rhyme loses its charm real quick.
- Shooting scenes in black and red makes your movie look like a Virtual Boy game.
- Praying to God naked in a sewer is…strange.
- The Punisher doesn’t need to wear the skull t-shirt. Wait a minute! Yes, he does!
Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47) is an MFA candidate and instructor at the University of Central Florida.