The Punisher (2004)

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Released 26-Oct-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Dolby Digital Trailer
Audio Commentary-Jonathan Hensleigh (Director)
Deleted Scenes-2, With Optional Director's Commentary
Featurette-Keepin' It Real: Punisher Stunts
Featurette-War Journal: On The Set Of The Punisher
Music Video-'Step Up' By Drowning Pool
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 118:27
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (78:20) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Jonathan Hensleigh
Columbia Tristar F/D
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Thomas Jane
John Travolta
James Carpinello
Rebecca Romijn-Stamos
Roy Scheider
Laura Harring
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Carlo Siliotto

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Czech Titling
Hungarian Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Runs rampant!
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis


'Vaya con dios, Castle, go with god'

'God's gonna sit this one out'

    Firstly, I should confess that I am not a comic book reader and have no detailed knowledge of the comic series upon which this film is based, so I apologise in advance to any fans of the series if I get something wrong. Having said that I have greatly enjoyed many of the recent comic adaptations including Hellboy, X-Men and the Spiderman films. On that basis, this adaptation of a comic series which started in the 1970s piqued my interest and I decided to review this disc.

    The Punisher is the story of a retiring undercover FBI agent, Frank Castle (Tom Jane) who on his last bust is accidentally involved in the death of Bobby Saint, one of the sons of Tampa hotshot businessman and money launderer, Howard Saint (John Travolta). Howard decides to take revenge on Castle and orders him killed. At his wife, Livia's (Laura Harring) behest, Howard extends the order to include all of Castle's extended family who have gathered for a family reunion. Saint's men descend upon the family reunion, killing everyone in sight including Castle's father (Roy Scheider) and his wife and son. Castle manages to escape, more dead than alive and is nursed back to health by the man who utters the first line quoted at the beginning of this review as Castle is leaving. Castle's response gives you a good idea of how this film plays out, as Castle becomes The Punisher and exacts revenge and his version of justice on Saint and his associates.

    Let's face it, this is a loud, violent revenge film and will appeal to those who enjoy films of this type. It includes some good action scenes and some impressive stunts, most of which were done in the old style, with real stunt men rather than CGI. Some of the scenes are quite violent and this film is certainly not for the squeamish. The film was directed by first-time director, Jonathan Hensleigh who also co-wrote the screenplay. Despite this being his first time helming a film he is an experienced writer who has done a number of big-budget action films such as Die Hard : With a Vengeance and Armageddon. The film is competently made and both Tom Jane and John Travolta give quite decent performances. There is nothing particularly which stands out about the plot - it is pretty straight forward, and based upon the director's commentary some other subplots were removed for budgetary or pacing reasons. To my mind, it could have done with some more humour, although I understand this would not have been in keeping with the tone of the comics.

    The film seems to have received mixed reaction from fans of the comic books and some criticism for being set in Tampa rather than a more urban environment like Chicago or New York.

    If you are a fan of the comics or of action films with a large body count this might be worth a look but it certainly does not break any new ground in the action genre.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    The video quality is excellent.

    The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. There was some extremely light grain in some scenes. The shadow detail was excellent in what is quite a dark film generally which is in keeping with its subject matter.

    The colour was excellent, and well saturated with no colour artefacts.

    There were no noticeable artefacts of any kind.

    There are 19 subtitle streams including English, English for the hearing impaired and subtitles for the director's commentary. The English subtitles were clear and easy to read.

    The layer change occurs at 78:20 and was not particularly noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is also excellent.

    This DVD contains three audio options; an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s and the same in Czech and Hungarian.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync.

    The score of this film by Carlo Siliotto is very effective and the theme music which plays over the menu is very good indeed. It really adds to the dark and brooding feel of the movie.

    The surround speakers were used regularly for numerous surround effects such as gunfire, cars and explosions. This is very effective.

     The subwoofer was also used regularly and added significant LFE to the explosions and other sound effects.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu is well designed and is in keeping with the dark and brooding nature of the character and the film. It includes music and motion.

Dolby Digital Trailer

    I don't usually mention these in the extras section, but this one deserves a mention because a trailer that is supposed to show off 5.1 channels of sound should not be encoded as 2.0! Weird.

Commentary - Director Jonathan Hensleigh

    This is a pretty good commentary track despite his quite matter of fact speaking style. He covers some quite interesting topics including how budgetary constraints affected his decisions (he seems a little bitter about this!), edited out plotlines, sequences they did not end up shooting, his approach to the material and some interesting anecdotes. He gets a bit carried away when comparing this film to the work of Sam Peckinpah & Sergio Leone! Certainly worth a listen.

Deleted Scenes

    Two deleted scenes are included, neither of which adds much. An optional director's commentary is available. The scenes are:

Keeping it Real : Punisher Stunts (27:47)

    A reasonably interesting featurette which covers how the various stunts were done and includes quite a lot of on-set footage of the stunts being performed. Includes interviews with the stunt co-ordinator, the various stunt people and the director. It would seem that quite a lot of Tom Jane's stunts were performed by him. Worthwhile if you are interested in how stunts are achieved.

War Journal : On the Set of The Punisher (30:01)

    A fairly traditional making of which covers pre-production, the tight budget and schedule, casting, the shooting, costumes and post production. Nothing spectacular but reasonably interesting.

Music Video - 'Step Up' by Drowning Pool (3:26)

    Contains many more bikini clad girls than the film itself. The song is thrash metal and did nothing for me. Presented in 4x3.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    On the basis above, the Region 1 US release is clearly the winner. There also seems to be a Region 0 - Hong Kong version of this disc but I have read that the video quality is very bad and you cannot turn the subtitles off which makes me wonder about its heritage. 12/11/04 - Since this review was published I have received some correspondance from Ricardo in Portugal who advises that the Hong Kong R0 version has reasonable but overbright video, DTS and the subtitles can be turned on and off. Personally, I would still go for the Region 1 release but the Region 0 might be worth considering.


    A loud violent revenge film based upon the Marvel comic series The Punisher.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The disc has a reasonable selection of extras which would interest fans of the film, although the Region 1 release has more.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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Comments (Add)
A real Stinker! - david
Re: Stinker - James O
Brilliant Film Making - Anonymous
Audio is EX encoded - chaossphere
R4 Punisher Extended Cut missing prologue - Sean Brady