Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Don't worry, folks.  The dead bodies talk so that makes it okay.


PARANORMAN brings a slightly darker edge to children's mainstream animation.  In no way is it as dark as kid's movies back in the eighties.  Remember those?  Remember the NEVERENDING STORY when that large werewolf would run around with it's huge teeth and damnable nightmarish yellow eyes?  The horrible thing talked too.  Or what about THE DARK CRYSTAL with the giant black crabs that broke through walls from everywhere dispelling any notion that you were going to get a decent night sleep.  SECRET OF NIMH, anyone?  Back in my day kids movies gave you nightmares and that's they way we liked them.  They were a little more adult filled with imagination that wasn't afraid to get a little dark from time to time.  Nowadays we get some good animated films (Usually from PIXAR) but they are all free of any imagery that would freak out the wussiest of brats.  PARANORMAN comes close to bringing back some of those kinds of disturbing moments but not quite.  It is a good movie but not great.  Why do they always have to put some boring moral lesson into these movies?  Why do they always have to go the "smart" story route.  Why can't this be a simple story about a boy who fights zombies and becomes a hero because of his extreme knowledge of horror movies and his macabre ability to communicate with the dead?  Oh, well at least it is not a musical.

PARANORMAN starts off great with our protagonist Norman watching a zombie movie on t.v.  We see that he is totally obsessed with zombies having posters of them all over his wall with a zombie alarm clock and a zombie tooth brush and such.  His family thinks he is weird because he still talks to grandma who has been dead for a few months or so.  As he goes to school he talks to all the ghosts that he sees along the way.  The town folk see him as weird too.  At school he is bullied and treated like an outcast but he befriends the fat kid and blah-blah-blah zombie stuff happens.  We know all this stuff already.  What about the zombies?  Well for one they are risen from the dead by a witches curse.  We find out that they were (sigh) Puritans.  There were seven of them that stood witness at the witch's trial.  Now right there we already know that they unjustifiably sentenced some poor girl to death for witchcraft because that is what the Puritans did back in the old days.  At least according to the History Channel they did.  How uncreative is that?  Puritans and witches curses?  How about a leaky barrel of toxic waste rolling through a cemetery and some Butt-Rock Hair Metal music to get our zombie carnage started?  I miss you, the eighties.  *Sob*

You see once you find out that the town celebrates it's famous historical witch trial we already know the whole story.  It becomes a little boring.  You already know that the witch was just some innocent person that was wrongly convicted.  Wait a minute.  Why can she put a witches curse on you even though she really isn't a witch at all?  That doesn't make any sense.  Either she was a witch or she wasn't.  If she wasn't she shouldn't be able to put a witches curse on anybody.  We find out that she was a young girl Norman's age who could also speak to the dead which made her an outcast.  Does that mean Norman can cast curses too and light up into electricity?  The movie doesn't say.  As it turns out the zombies are not bad they are just trying to get the curse ended with Norman's help.  They are sorry for what they did.  Eh, what can I say?  It's a kid's movie.  The girl at the trial says she was "just playing".  That is fine and all but the fact that she can cast a curse almost legitimizes the conviction.  That isn't right.  Maybe later if she had lived she would eventually become an all powerful witch able to cast spells on those she simply didn't like.  You kind of shot yourself in the foot with that one didn't ya, PARANORMAN?

Yes, the story is smart (for the most part) with a good message about forgiveness and not to be a bully.  Yes, there are some clever moments like when the Puritan zombies find themselves the outcasts and hunted by the town's people.  It is very ironic.  There are some nods to classic horror movies most of which I missed because I'm not a smart guy with a keen eye for detail.  I love this kind of stop motion animation and the colors and scenery are outstanding.  I just didn't find the humor all that funny.  I also didn't like the fact that the ghosts Norman talks too disappear once the story starts to get rolling.  I would have thought that all these ghosts would start to float around and help Norman out when the zombies show up but they don't.  He doesn't have a relationship with them.  It would have been cool if they were the only friends that Norman had.  They could have helped him when no one alive would.  That would have been cool.  But instead Norman's gift for talking to the dead is only helpful because only he can talk to the zombies and only he can talk to the dead girl who is not a witch but can cast witch's curses.  Its not as creative of a movie as I would have liked.  I would have liked to have seen the ghosts have more of an impact on the main story.  Instead they are just there at the beginning to let us, the audience, know that Norman talks to dead people.

If you have kids that love monster movies then I highly recommend this movie.  They will get a kick out of all the spooky scenery, ghosts, and severed limb humor.  And kids aren't too smart so they won't see the story twists coming from a mile away.  I know I am a little down on this one but I did really like this movie and I want to see it do well.  Horror fans should love it.  I just wasn't blown away by it.  If I had seen this movie back when I was ten then this probably would have been one of my favorite films of all time just because it had zombies in it.  Unfortunately I am old now and I hate everything.  I had high expectations for this movie.  I rarely go see kids movies in the theater.  When I do it is because I am expecting something great.  PARANORMAN could have been great.  It trips up with having to tell an overly complicated story about forgiving one another and stuff.  Why can't a kid's movie be about a bunch of crazy crap happening with no real moral message whatsoever?  Remember THE GOONIES?  It is nice to see that there are a couple of similar spooky kid movies coming out soon.  I am looking forward to FRANKENWEENIE and HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA.  I will be seeing those as well.  Next time however I will keep my expectations low.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I do believe if you took the top row of my DVD collection and smashed them together to form one ultimate movie the result would be SAMURAI AVENGER. Prominently displayed on my top shelf are all my Samurai, Kung-fu, and Italian Westerns DVDs. These films are all very violent, very colorful and very fun. They appeal to my more adolescent side wanting nothing more to see than bloody revenge carried out on wave after wave of well deserving bad guys. Though they come from different countries with different visual styles these films all tap into the same themes. Most of the time they are stories of a stranger showing up somewhere who is highly proficient when it comes to killing. They usually have the fastest draw with the gun or the sword and always have the right thing to say at any given situation. These are the heroes. Usually they are drifters out to to seek revenge. Like KILL BILL, SAMURAI AVENGER is a celebration of these films blending swords and guns together perfectly but with a much lower budget. The film makers call it a "Sushi Western".

SAMURAI AVENGER pretends to be a lost exploitation grindhouse film from the seventies that has been restored with scratches left in the film that were unavoidable. At the beginning of the film an up tight narrator explains that this is a directors cut and when possible the excessively violent scenes have been restored using the best source material available and that we should excuse the poor quality of certain shots in the film. If you ever watched DJANGO on DVD they have a similar notification at the beginning of the movie minus the narrator. So what we have here is a GRINDHOUSE clone but with Samurai/Italian Westerns instead of horror movies. Hey, at least they don't do that whole "missing reel" thing that other wannabe directors do.  That only worked in GRINDHOUSE.  Dear young film makers of today, please stop making GRINDHOUSE inspired rip-offs.  We get it.  We all love Tarantino.  You don't need to make movies that do nothing more than copy his style to show your love.  Thank you.  SAMURAI AVENGER is an exception.

Kurando Mitsutake plays the Blind Wolf who is on a journey to kill the man responsible for murdering his wife and daughter and forcing him to poke out his own eyes with a stick.  What a bastard.  But he must kill the seven assasins that stand in his way.  A mysterious drifter shows up and helps him on his journey.  Kurando Mitsutake does a fantastic job playing the playing the Blind Wolf which was heavily inspired by the Katsu Shintaro version of Zatoichi.  He has Katsu's facial mannerism down perfectly.  Kurando really does look like Zatoichi.  The Drifter isn't too bad but nothing too special.  Played by Jeffery James Lippold I think his character is suppose to represent the Clint Eastwood mysterious stranger from Leone's "Man with no name" trilogy.  He looks more like an underwear model......Acts like one too.  The main bad guy played by Domiziano Arcangeli is way over the top but in a good way.  He kind of looks like the demon offspring of Klaus Kinski and the Devil assuming that the Devil is really a woman.  He is intense and all over the place with his performance savoring every vile and deplorable act.  He bites the ear off of Wolf's wife for crying out loud!......Really good stuff.  A couple of times they film him with a "fish" lens to distort and widen his psychotic looking grin.  I didn't think this was necessary since the actor does a better job of looking crazy without gimmicky camera tricks which do nothing more than distract from his performance.  I really liked him a lot.

The film itself is full of cheesy highly exaggerated gore effects.  Like the LONE WOLF & CUB movies and other Japanese samurai films from the seventies there is blood spray everywhere.  Every wound is a fountain of red stuff.  Don't be surprised to see exposed intestines, decapitations, severed limbs, and major impalement issues galore.  This film has it all even though some of those shots are made to look damaged to make the film look old and poorly restored.  The fights are kind of non-existent with the good guys merely swinging their sword once then cutting to the bad guy spraying blood everywhere.  Quick sword fights aren't really a bad thing since in LONE WOLF & CUB Ogami Itto takes down his enemies usually in one or two moves but at least those scenes were better filmed.

The greatest enjoyment I got from the film is recognizing all the nods and homages to the old classics I love so much.  You can tell that Kurando who not only starred but directed and partially wrote SAMURAI AVENGER truly loves these movies too.  This film is a love letter to them.  There is a great scene between Wolf and the Drifter where they get into an argument about killing a witch that is also pregnant.  Not caring about losing his honor by killing an evil woman who is the expectant mother of an innocent Wolf wants to kill her right away.  The Drifter stops him causing a little bit of conflict between the two.  With the swing of the sword the Drifter slashes open the witch's stomach allowing the baby (played by a painfully obvious gore covered plastic doll) to fall into Wolf's arms.  A little bit later Amanda Plummer shows up in a van and the Drifter gives her the baby.  I guess that is the homage to Tarantino since she was in PULP FICTION.  Hurray?  Anyhoo Wolf thanks Drifter and tells him that he was right for not allowing him to kill the child and that revenge isn't the only thing left in this world.  It's a really great character developing moment that strengthens the friendship of these two master swordsmen and sets up for some greater drama in the last act.  Good stuff.

But......SAMURAI AVENGER has some problems.

The writing is probably the weakest aspect of the film with most of the best lines lifted from other movies as homages.  While the film gives us unique scenarios and scenes it tries too hard to make our hero sound like a badass.  Sometimes a hero should be seen and not heard especially when the hero's wit isn't as sharp as his sword.  The film falls a little short when it comes to the Wolf trying to sound tough.  He doesn't sound too intimidating when he says things like "Tell me something I don't already know" or "I don't even fear bullets."  For a mysterious stranger he sure does like to talk a lot.  Kurando should have relied more on his own strong presence in the film and the actions his character takes to emphasise how badass his character is.  Remember a badass doesn't have to prove himself to anyone and he sure as heck doesn't have to explain with words how badass he really is.  Bad guys should learn how badass a hero is by getting themselves dead by his actions not by being bored to death by bragging.

SAMURAI AVENGER kind of falls into nerdy HIGHLANDER territory focusing too much time on simply sliding a sword into it's sheathe.  It doesn't happen throughout the film but it does happen enough for me to complain about it.  When a bad guy is dispatched the film just stops to show a slow motion Wolf or Drifter sliding their dang Samurai sword into it's sheathe.  It's like sword porn for Nerdos that watch too much Anime.  It makes me think the film believes a hero is only as badass as the sword he carries.  Just because you are holding a sword in a mean pose does not make you a tough guy.  It makes you look like a nerd especially when you are practising your "sword techniques" in the backyard.  The only thing you are going to scare off are the ladies.

The narrator's voice could put a meth addict to sleep.  From time to time throughout the movie he stops the film to explain what is going on.  It is a good addition to the film especially since there is a lot of cultural stuff that needs explained but I do wish the narrator was a little more energetic.  The voice itself has a tendency to kill the momentum of the film.

ZATOICIHI, LONE WOLF & CUB, THE WILD BUNCH, DJANGO, THE OUTFIT and one of my favorites THE GREAT SILENCE are all referenced in SAMURAI AVENGER along with many other films I can't recall or just never seen.  There are zombies (Luci Fulci?) too with a small touch of science fiction added in at the ending.  Stay past the credits is all I can say.  Some of the sets are cheap looking but I think that isn't really a negative.  I think it adds to the fantastical artistic side of the film.  SAMURAI AVENGER isn't meant to be a realistic movie.  It is a post-modern film about the many different genres of films.  I know there are a lot of films you need to see first before you can fully appreciate SAMURAI AVENGER.  If you really really liked KILL BILL then give this one a chance.  You won't be disappointed...............probably.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

SPOOKIES! Remember this one?

"Hey, look at that giant mansion in the middle of nowhere that somebody may or may not be living in that has a cemetery for a front yard.  Let's go inside through the front doors and party."  If you are riding around pointlessly through the countryside and one of your friends says that, be sure you punch him (or her) in the head because it is exactly that kind of logic that gets a group of twenty somethings (more like thirty somethings by the look of them) dead in the movie SPOOKIES.

I am not sure if there really is a plot to SPOOKIES.  What I understand is that there is this old man wizard (played by Mr. Burns?) that has a line down the middle of his forehead that pulses up and down when he does magic type stuff.  He probably does it sometimes just to be gross too but that is none of my buisness.  The wizard's name is Kreon (pronounced crayon?) and he has a dead wife that he wants to resurrect from the dead.  The only way he can do that is by capturing peoples' souls who die in his mansion.  Along comes some "friends" that decide to stay in the seemingly abandoned house where they end up getting trapped inside.  Surrounded by zombies from the outside our twenty somethings decide to split up and roam the house pointlessly allowing themselves to be killed off one by one by the mansion's strange assortment of creatures.  Apparently the wizard wants them killed off in a creative fashion for his amusement.  The wife however wakes up early for some reason and doesn't like being brought back so she herself tries to escape her evil wizard husband.  At least that is what I think is going on in this mid-to-late eighties creature feature.

I saw this movie back in the early nineties when I was really young on the USA NETWORK one Saturday morning after all the good cartoons were over.  I had a hard time trying to find any information on this movie.  I did try finding it on IMDB but apparently I was typing in "THE CREEPIES" even though I knew the correct word was "SPOOKIES".  I am what you would call an idiot.  Thankfully I found a copy of it and I was finally able to watch it to see if it was any good.  I didn't think I would but I ended up really liking this FX heavy B-movie production.  Sure the acting sucks and things don't make much sense but there is a tremendous amount of effort put into this movie.  The FX are not too bad and are kind of fun.  The monsters themselves range from simple gremlin hand puppets to larger  people size monsters.  There is one monster that shoots this tentacle around this lady's throat electrocuting her and melting face.  I think it was absorbing her or something gross.  It was really cool though.  Then the "funny" guy of the group who apparently likes bringing his hand puppet around to pick up chicks follows this woman around who turns into a giant spider that sucks his body dry in an instant.  The FX can be a little silly too.  At one point there is this flying ghost banshee thing that is waving it's arms all crazy and if you pause the movie just right you can see one of the puppeteers hands holding one of the arms.  Good times.  The banshee thing looks like a Halloween decoration you can get at SPENCERS.  I think they did a good job with the monsters though.  I was impressed.  The Grim Reaper makes an appearance too.  Did you know that if you throw the Grim Reaper off a one story ledge it will explode?  Its true.

SPOOKIES is an effectively shot film.  A lot of the shots particularly of the mansion with the cemetery for a front yard are extremely memorable.  The moment when the "funny" guy meets the Spider Lady she is mostly concealed in shadow allowing only her eyes to be visible.  It is an eerie moment because you know the spider is leading the fly into a trap.  You know something bad is about to go down and you are not quite sure that you want to see it.  The spider transformation was actually pretty good too.  SPOOKIES is a spooky film despite its short comings.  I am not for sure but I think the makers of this film built a bigger movie around an unfinished short film called TWISTED SOULS.  At least that is what I gathered from IMDB.  The movie has three directors credited two of which are credited for TWISTED.  You can barely tell that this is two movies combined into one.  The movie has a weird atmosphere to it.  It is an American production but it feels and looks more like an Italian horror movie.  It is hard for me too explain.  There is a dream like quality to SPOOKIES.  Its a colorful film with strange visuals broken by bickering characters that don't seem to be friends at all.  It is a weird combination.  It all works though in a cheesy, fun but spooky way.  Just watch it for yourselves and see if you agree.

You know what movie SPOOKIES reminds me of most?  CABIN IN THE WOODS.  Its basically the same premise.  A bunch of kids are killed off by an assortment of different monsters for the amusement of some supernatural guy.  I wonder if this film was an inspiration for Joss Whedon.  Its possible.  If you like horror movies and you want to see something that is fun, imaginative and pretty stupid I highly recommend this film.  I know that this is one of those movies that has a lot to forgive but I think that is another reason why the film is so good.  Cheesy is good sometimes.  The only thing I will complain about is that constantly through the film seemingly every other shot is on this blue Nightcrawler looking werewolf Igor looking dude with a hooked hand.  He runs around ensuring that no one escapes by locking doors behind people when they are trying to runaway from the monsters.  There are way too many shots of this guy running around spying on everybody.  It gets kind of annoying.  But everything else I am going to over look.  I had a fun time watching this film remembering all the moments I saw back when I was a kid.  Back then this movie scared me.  Man, was I a wuss.


EXPENDABLES 2 IS THE BEST MOVIE OF 2012!!!....Prob-Probably.

I realize that I had some pretty low expectations for EXPENDABLES 2 so maybe this movie isn't as great as I think it is.  Maybe after a few more hundred viewings I will see the flaws and missed opportunities that usually come with an expensive high dollar action movie boasting such a wonderful cast.  Just to be safe I lowered the amount of exclamation points at the end of my title to this blog entry to just three instead of ten.  This movie does have a strange small controversy surrounding the original rating for the film.  Stallone himself did say that this was going to be a PG-13 style film but that Van Damme's performance was so awesome that no one would care.  That statement was later denied completely and pretended by Stallone himself to have never been said reassuring us that this was going to be an uncompromising violent film pushing the R rating.  I took that as they filmed for a PG-13 but panicked after nerd backlash (myself included) and pushed for R.  Thank goodness you can C.G.I. blood easily onto digitally filmed movies.  With all that said I can say that EXPENDABLES 2 was blast-tastic.  It was a bloody good time.  It was an action movie fans dream come true.  I really thought the whole movie was really really neat.

EXPENDABLES 2 is about Stallone's crew on the hunt for Van Damme and his personal military force known as the Sang.  What was originally a short mission retrieving plans from a crashed plane quickly turns personal when one of their own dies at the hands (or should I say feet, ha-ha?) of Van Damme.  After watching the trailers I was pretty sure I knew how this film story wise would play out.  I knew who would die and why there was a woman now a part of the crew.  Well thankfully EXPENDABLES 2 threw me a curve ball.  I was wrong.  Way wrong which in this case was a good thing.  The movie is a little unpredictable slightly in that respect.  Most of the time you can call it before it happens.  But that's no big deal.  They try to give you a little surprise at the beginning but you can see it coming a mile away.  But maybe that is just me.  Maybe I watch way too many movies gaining way too much knowledge on how films play on audiences expectations.  Maybe I should stop writing this nonsensical review and go outside and live life to it's fullest..........But there are spiders outside so on I go with this way too positive review.

This movie moves quickly.  In my head I remember it being one extremely long action sequence.  Really though there are some quiet moments here and there to reflect a little on these characters personalities.  The action is filmed fast and sometimes it looks really good but then other times because so much is going on at once it is kind of hard to tell who is doing what to who.  Once I thought I was watching Randy Couture beat the crap out of some guy in heavy shadow but it turned out once the fight moved into daylight that I was actually watching Terry Crewes.  The two were wearing the same hat making their dark silhouettes almost identical.  Overall though all the action scenes were great even if the majority of them were filmed in basic American Acton Movie Style.  Meaning we get shots of good guys firing guns cutting to reaction shots of bad guys who have a strange aversion to taking cover falling down dead.  At least the body count is high.  Very high.  Like probably in the hundreds high.  That's a good action movie, folks.  There are some moments where I think that they really were aiming for a PG-13.  There isn't that much blood for one thing.  It looks like it was all added in post which the first one was but you don't have a lot of guys getting blown into pieces or major decapitations by big knives and such.  At one point Jet Li grabs two frying pans and starts fighting a few guys because he lost his weapons or whatever.  Its a good moment yet I was reminded of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES 2: SECRET OF THE OOZE where the Turtles stopped using their weapons and started fighting with yo-yo's and other stupid toys to try and appeal to the too stupid to know what TMNT is all about demographic.  EXPENDABLES 2 doesn't go that crazy but it just made me wonder what they were originally shooting for.

Its really cool to see Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Willis and Chuck Norris fighting side by side.  Their appearances are a little more than simple one scene cameos.  Seeing these guys together is the best thing about this movie.  It is a moment that deserves some reflection.  Who would have ever thought such a movie could be made?  It is kind of a dangerous thing.  I am surprised the universe didn't implode somehow at the epic oddity of Chuck Norris saying a "CHUCK NORRIS FACT".  Just be careful, EXPENDABLES 2 is all I am saying.  I was afraid his acting would suck or be not as good as the others but Norris did a good job.  As soon as Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Willis are together the movie can't resist but start throwing out their classic one liners back and forth.  Thankfully the movie doesn't descend too far into the tongue-in-cheek territory.  They seem to do it to make fun of themselves and their past persona's.  I guess EXPENDABLES 2 isn't just an action movie but a post-modern action movie similar to ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST.  It is an action movie about these guys' past action movies.  That is kind of cool when you think about it.  Another bad thing about getting these three guys together is that the rest of the Expendables take a backseat to the film's focus.  Suddenly at the end the movie seems to be more about them than the core crew of the Expendables.  Yes, even Dolph Lundgren takes a backseat.  Speaking of Dolph I am so glad to see that he is in the entire film.  He is a lot of fun and I would have liked to see more of his interaction with Jet Li.  These two have a unique chemistry together.  I hope they explore it more in EXPENDABLES 3: NOW WE ARE JUST PUSHING IT.  I just hope in the next one if there is one that Segal at least makes an appearance and they bring back Scott Adkins as another character to represent the future of action stars. It is neat to see Adkins and his mentor Van Damme together fighting side by side.

I like that there is a solemn attitude towards death in this film even if it is highly hypocritical.  These guys encountered all kinds of horrors in battle and you can see it on their faces as they reflect on there past when Chris Hemsworth (who plays a young sniper new to the team) starts talking about his past experiences in the Afghanistan war.  Yet the Expendables have smiles on their faces and cracking jokes as they gun down hundreds of bad guys.  Gee, it sure looks like war is fun to them.  Why so glum, chum?  I think having this attitude or acknowledgement of the consequences of violence keeps the movie from becoming a light hearted action comedy.  We don't want another DOUBLE TEAM on our hands here.

For me EXPENDABLES 2 was better than the first one.  I was surprised, excited and relieved that the whole film didn't seem like a watered down bland mess.  It was a near perfect action movie accomplishing what it set out to do.  You can include this one in your conversation as to what are the greatest action movies of all time are.  This one belongs somewhere in the top ten.  Bring on BULLET TO THE HEAD and THE LAST STAND.

BTW:  Second best thing about EXPENDABLES 2?  No SHINEDOWN song to cast a stain on the whole film.


Friday, August 17, 2012

DOLPH LUNDGREN'S THE PUNISHER is highly underrated because I say so.

THE PUNISHER starring Dolph Lundgren is the second best Punisher film out of the three.  Much maligned by critics and the nerds this action packed comic book movie maybe far from the source material but I say take a closer look.  Is it really?  Is it really as bad as the nerdos on the Internet say it is?  I say this Punisher film is a better made and smarter movie than most action movies in general.......And by "smarter" I mean this movie does what it is suppose to do better than most action movies.

The story, simply put, is about the Punisher getting mixed up in a gang war between the mafia and the Japanese Yakuza.  The Yakuza are as cutthroat as they come killing any and all that get in their way including Peter Bear who apparently "really cares".  After five years of killing mobsters the major crime families unite to stop themselves from killing each other.  Unfortunately for them the Yakuza see their weakness and move in on the mobs territory.  Unfortunately for the Yakuza however, that territory happens to be the hunting grounds of the Punisher.  Whoops.

As an action movie DL's THE PUNISHER is either ahead of its time or the last of the truly great action films before everything went PG-13 emphasising the spectacle over violent action.  There are plenty of scenes of bad guys getting shot up, stabbed, and ran over.  They are all filmed well capturing the excitement of the violence with well choreographed shoot'em up fight scenes.  Often the action flows fast with longer than usual continuous shots similar to a John Woo style action piece.  Heck, even the car chase scene was exciting.  It can get wonderfully excessive too like the early eighties action films.  There is a part where the Punisher and crime boss Gianni Franco (Jerden Krabbe) emerge from an open elevator and begin machine gunning the crapola out of about twenty guards that were armed with nothing but swords.  I know a lot of you nerdos out there think you look cool swinging your samurai swords around and all but a sword isn't going to do much but make you look stupid when a gun is pointed right at you.  The scene reminded me a bit of the kill'em all and make it look easy ending to COMMANDO.  A high body count is always welcome in a Punisher film and Dolph's does it right.

Comic book movie wise THE PUNISHER loses it's 'Street Cred' with the source material.  I only say that because gone is the trademark white Punisher Skull glowing from his chest.  MARVEL wouldn't allow it.  Whatever.  I do feel that the look of the film itself looks very close to the early days of the Punisher comic.  Neither were too colorful with a slight grey overtone.  I don't think this was done on purpose.  It was probably an accident or I am completely wrong and I don't know what I am talking about which seems more probable.  I also like that this isn't an origin story and the Punisher isn't out for revenge even though the majority of guys he kills belong to the crime organization that was responsible for the death of his family.  So there are a couple of things that DL's THE PUNISHER gets right.  I appreciate that.  Oh, and there are ninjas too just like in the comic.  In case you didn't know it was a ninja who killed Microchip's son.  Sadly Microchip does not appear in this Punisher.  They replaced him with a drunk, out of work, homeless thespian (actor) who has a tendency to speak in rhyme.  I actually like this character even though he can be seen as an annoyance.  He serves as the Punisher's informant.  He is the 'funny' character that doesn't belong in any action film.  But he didn't really bother me too much.  I will give him a pass.  That will be my one good deed for the day.

Lady Tanaka (Kim Miyori) is the crime boss of the Yakuza.  They don't get much more eviler than her.  She is bloody brilliant.  As a tremendously strong presence in the film she comes across as unstoppable and superior to all around her.  Her appearance in the film along with her small army of ninjas raise the bar in villainy.  In fact the crime boss Gianni Franco who is a badass himself has to team up with the Punisher who has been trying to kill him the past five years just to come close to bringing her down.  When it comes to movie comic book villains she has to be one of the best and baddest.  Its too bad none of the know-nothing-nerdos out there will ever give her credit because she doesn't shoot laser beams or control metal or whatever the bad guys in comic book movies are doing these days. 

I know the opening credits at the beginning of the film look a little cheap with the same shot of the Dolph turning around and shooting glass figures of criminals and ninjas.  They reuse the same shot over and over again.  It's not too creative but give the movie a break.  Let it do what a good Punisher film does.  Kill lots of the guilty violently as possible.  This is a great movie and one of Dolph Lundgren's best action movies.  He does a great job portraying the solemn tortured and sometimes naked Frank Castle.  Unfortunately he does have some stupid lines trying to be a wiseguy in the face of certain doom.  There is a part where the Punisher is being tortured on a table that stretches him out by his arms and legs.  Lady Tanaka asks a question for which the Punisher responds "Is the answer True/False or Multiple choice?"  Terrible.  Just terrible.  Save the comedy for the professionals, Dolph.  Yea, I know he didn't write it but he is tough enough to punch the writer in the face and make him change the dialague is all I am saying.  I love this movie.  I don't think it gets the credit it deserves.  Watch it and see for yourselves.

Oh, and Academy Award winner Louis Gossett Jr. is in this movie too.  I guess I should mention that as well...................*cough*.