Not to be confused with its 2004 remake, Mark Goldblatt's dark and unapologeticly violent comic book adaption from 1989 takes onscreen brutality to a new level. Dolph Lundgren is a former cop, believed to have been murdered in a car bomb that ended his family's life, who exacts revenge on the crime syndicate that he believes is responsible. Louis Gossett, Jr. is a cop who believes that all of these murders are in fact being caused by his former partner. With the mafia bosses suffering such massive losses, the head of the Yakuza enters and violent assurts herself into the acquation, kidnapping the bosses' children and holding them for ransom. With nowhere else to turn, the bosses call on "The Punisher" for an unlikely alliance.
"Punisher" is excessively violent. There are torture scenes, bloody shoot-outs, and more than a few people getting kicked in the face with blade-tipped shoes. The story, courtesy of Boaz Yakin, does have a sense of humor though. Most of the film's big laughs come from Barry Otto's drunken out-of-work theatre peformer who doubles as Lundgren's unwilling sidekick. Lundgren himself gets to drop a few funny one-liners as well while Louis Gossett and Jeroen Krabbe give performances that prove worthy of their resume. The relatively-unknown Kim Myori is also great as the super evil Yakuza boss.
As far as full-length comic book movies go, this one is not quite on the level of Tim Burton's "Batman" or Sam Raimi's "Spider Man" but there have certainly been a lot worse.