DVD Verdict
Home About Deals Blu-ray DVD Reviews Upcoming DVD Releases Contest Podcasts Judges Jury Room Contact  

Case Number 15892

Buy Punisher: War Zone (Blu-Ray) at Amazon

Punisher: War Zone (Blu-Ray)

Lionsgate // 2008 // 106 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 11th, 2009

• View Judge Johnson's Dossier
• E-mail Judge Johnson
• Printer Friendly Review

Every purchase you make through these Amazon links supports DVD Verdict's reviewing efforts. Thank you!


All Rise...

Judge David Johnson punishes fish.

Editor's Note

Our review of Punisher: War Zone: Two-Disc Special Edition, published March 27th, 2009, is also available.

The Charge

Vengeance has a name.

Opening Statement

After the first Punisher went over like a bag of spent shell casings, Lionsgate and Marvel figure the second time's the charm, re-casting the lead, spiking the body count, and launching the gore stats into the ionosphere.

Facts of the Case

While not necessarily a reboot, Punisher: War Zone pretends the first film didn't exist. There's a smidgen of origin story, told through a longing look at a headstone and some ultra-fast flashbacks, but this tale is concerned with only one thing: blowing the brains out of bad guys. Frank Castle (Ray Stevenson) is more than happy to oblige.

The film opens with Castle (a.k.a. The Punisher) single-handedly assaulting the mansion of a powerful Mafia family, then taking the fight to one of syndicate's warehouses, where he leaves the second-in-command sliced and diced in a glass bottle crusher. Gotta always check the pulse Frank, because this dude comes back as the murderous Jigsaw (Dominic West, 300) and he's determined to reclaim his empire and exact revenge…and so on and so forth. Anyway, head shots!

The Evidence

After the tepid original, I wasn't sure if there was an audience clamoring for more big-screen Punishment. Some focus group obviously thought there was still juice left in the franchise, so here's War Zone. Maybe Lionsgate thought this would be the series swan song or perhaps they were angling for an older, gore-loving demographic, but this sucker is blood-soaked. Seriously, I haven't seen horror movies blow out the amount of bodily trauma this thing does, which will ultimately be the deciding factor for viewers.

Do you want a measured examination of vengeance and grief or how—when they intertwine—a once well-adjusted family man turns into a hollow husk, propelled into a nightmarish existence as a roving executioner? Look elsewhere. War Zone is as soulless and empty as its protagonist.

If, however, you want to see mass, mindless carnage with lots and lots of guns firing lots and lots of rounds at lots and lots of bad guys, I've got the movie for you. As a slickly constructed frag-a-thon, Punisher: War Zone works. The action is well-executed and, despite a plot-heavy lag in the middle, the film hums along at a nice pace. Thankfully, director Levi Alexander (I can't remember the last hard-R action film helmed by a woman) shoots the action with a steady hand, largely discarding the ADHD hyper-editing that characterizes shoot'em-ups these days. She's also pretty deranged, reveling in the gore that accompanies Castle's slaying: skulls are blown apart by point blank shotgun shells, brainpans are evacuated from sniper rounds, heads are nearly snapped in half, handguns ventilate an uncountable number of victims, and the impaling…oh, the impaling. Violence-wise, War Zone makes The Punisher look like an episode of The Dog Whisperer.

Lionsgate has produced another sterling Blu-ray. Well, near-sterling. The 2.35:1 widescreen is a stunner, save for the smallest of video glitches. It happens during a driving scene, the characters are talking and then really quick the frame stutters. It's far from a feature-killer, but the perfect score is, unfortunately denied. Beyond that, the picture quality is top-notch and, since this movie takes place almost entirely in the dark, the widely improved resolution is a humongous benefit. The DTS-HD 7.1 audio mix pounds. The frantic gunfire makes for an electrifying mix and the orchestral score is transmitted with richness.

Extras: a feature commentary with Levi Alexander and director of photography Steve Gainer; plus, short but sweet HD featurettes looking at the making-of, the guns (there are a lot and they're shiny), the Jigsaw character and make-up, Ray Stevensoon's physical preparation for the role and the look of the film. The custom blog tool MoLog is your BD-Live application.

Closing Statement

Hyper-violent, charm-free, and kind of pointless, Punisher: War Zone still manages to entertain, easily outpacing the original. The Blu-ray is a winner.

The Verdict

Really, it deserves a guilty verdict, but the bench has a soft spot for extreme face-punching.

Give us your feedback!

Did we give Punisher: War Zone (Blu-Ray) a fair trial? yes / no

Share This Review

Follow DVD Verdict

Other Reviews You Might Enjoy

• The Marine 2
• Ultimate Fights
• Excalibur (HD DVD)
• Gone In 60 Seconds (1974)

DVD Reviews Quick Index

• DVD Releases
• Recent DVD Reviews
• Search for a DVD review...

Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 95
Extras: 80
Acting: 75
Story: 80
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 106 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Action
• Blu-ray

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary
• Featurettes
• Trailer
• BD-Live


• IMDb
• Cinema Verdict Review

DVD | Blu-ray | Upcoming DVD Releases | About | Staff | Jobs | Contact | Subscribe | Find us on Google+ | Privacy Policy

Review content copyright © 2009 David Johnson; Site design and review layout copyright © 2016 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.