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The Punisher (1989)

When Frank Castle's family is murdered by criminals, he wages war on crime as a vigilante assassin known only as the Punisher.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gianni Franco (as Jeroen Krabbe)
Bryan Marshall ...
Brian Rooney ...
Zoska Aleece ...
Tanaka's Daughter (as Zoshka Mizak)
Kenji Yamaki ...
Hirofumi Kanayama ...
Larry McCormick ...
TV Newsreader
Laccone (as Larney Tupu)
Gianfranco Negroponte ...
Musso (as John Negroponte)


Based on the Marvel Comic, Dolph Lundgren is Frank Castle an ex-cop who lives in the sewers and acts as judge, jury, and executioner to the city's criminals in retaliation for the unpunished murders of his wife and kids. Frank's ex-partner Jake (Louis Gossett Jr.) finally catches up with the vigilante as he tries to stop the Japanese mob, which is trying to take over the city's mafia operation. Written by Matt Carlin <ghola@umich.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Judge. Jury. Executioner. All in a day's work. See more »


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Parents Guide:






Release Date:

5 October 1989 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Каратель  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$9,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (heavily cut) (1990) (1995)

Sound Mix:

(4 channels)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The movie was released theatrically worldwide, except in the United States due to New World Pictures' sell to Andrews Group, which was not interested in theatrical distribution, and in Sweden due to censorship (it would come out later on video). It did have a US 35mm screening on July 8th 1990 at the L.A. Comic Book and Science Fiction (on a triple bill with The Flash (1990) CBS-TV series and The Guyver (1991)) and then on October 18th 2008 at the Escapism Film Festival, Durham (NC) where director Mark Goldblatt brought his own 35mm print (as well as the "I Must Break You" Dolph Lundgren Fest April 18th 2009 at the L.A. New Beverly). See more »


(at around 27 mins) Punisher's sidekick misquotes Macbeth when entering the sewers. He says "Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble" when any thespian will know the correct line from MacBeth begins "Double, double...". See more »


[the Punisher is being tortured]
Lady Tanaka: Who sent you?
The Punisher: Batman.
See more »


Referenced in Fresh (1994) See more »


Planet of Love
Performed by Simon Stokes
Written by Simon Stokes & Harry Garfield
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Decent comic book actioner!

Frank Castle is the Punisher, a former cop whose family was killed by mobsters. He was presumed dead but has in fact been alive, although not entirely well, for the last five years. Castle is a vigilante on a long lasting mission for revenge, as yet he hasn't reached his limit. Castle lives underground with barely any contact with human life, he is emotionally retarded, a tortured soul, who looks to god for help but as yet receives no answer.

This is a B-movie, so high production values and top script is not exactly expected. This is however an enjoyable comic book action film. Its dark and moody and is perfect for the lead character. Dolph Lundgren is good as the Punisher, he has the right look and his voice is excellent in the role. This is a character who holds in his emotions and you would perhaps say it is an ideal character for an action star to play. But Dolph adds something extra, he really comes across as if he is a man suffering, you can see it in his eyes, he is really into his role but being a character with few emotions Dolph gets little credit, the same could be said for Arnold in the Terminator. They both get more credit for the look and actions of their characters instead of nicely played performances, in roles that need to be underplayed, you could almost call it being wooden because of a need to be wooden. The script gives Castle some depth but we never really get to delve to deep into his life before he became the Punisher, and there could have been some more scenes to show Castle on his own, to see more of his actions away from other people. Around others he is unable to act like a normal human being because of his solitude and emotional anguish.

The script may have flaws and the film seems fairly cheap, but it has class in other areas. The film is very dark, and it has an almost eerie atmosphere that is key for a comic book film like this. It is nicely shot in that respect, they steer clear of to much colour, they take you into Castles dark, dank world. The action is also good, fast paced with some imaginative moments, nothing amazing because the likes of Woo and the Wachowskis have helped the Hollywood action scene evolve in style since the year this was made, but as far as 80's action goes this is quite stylish.

The support cast range from average to just plain awful. The exceptions here are Oscar winner Louis Gossett Junior and Oscar nominee Jeroen Krabbe. They are both in scene stealing form. They have a great scene together at the beginning and also Gossett has a standout scene when he is with the Punisher in a police cell, that was an excellent scene. Krabbe is the show stealer by a whisker though, he is good and his character as a mob boss is more well written than your stereotypical mob boss in most action flicks. Also excellent is Kim Myori, she is delightfully nasty as the head of a Yakuza family looking to take over the business operations of the main mob families. Other than her the rest are not great and some of the henchman are just plain bad. The kid who plays Tommy is good though, he has a good scene with the Punisher right at the end. The rest of the kids in the movie are bad and some are obviously dubbed over by adults putting on child like voices.

Anyway this is by no means a classic, it needed adding to some aspects of the story and character, but it had some surprisingly good scenes in which the Oscar Winner and Nominee both excelled, although they had roles they could do in their sleep. This was Dolphs first real step forward as an actor, he is good here, at times doing very well. He has improved immensely since. The film is enjoyable, its a solid comic book movie and while it can't considered a fun and joyous comic book film like Batman or Spiderman, because of its dark characters, it is still worth a watch and is one of Dolphs best. 7/10

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