I’ve been a fan of the infamous comic book character The Punisher for as long as I can remember. Needless to say, I was super excited back in 2004 when I heard about Thomas Jane landing the role with John Travolta playing the villain, as all we had before this was the not-so-great Dolph Lundgren entry from 1989. Now this film has been given the 4K HDR treatment and I have to say it still holds up well while looking and sounding great in the process, even if it goes on a bit longer than it should.
The story follows the life of special agent Frank Castle (Thomas Jane), who has spent years away from his family being deep undercover to bust Miami mob boss Howard Saint’s (John Travolta) drug operation. After finally putting a stop on a major part of it, he looks to retire and spend time with his family. Of course this doesn’t go as planned since Frank and his team killed Howard’s son during the bust, and Saint returns the favor by taking out Frank and his family. After being left for dead, Frank returns to find his family killed and vows to punish Howard Saint and anyone who stands in his way as he becomes (you guessed it) the Punisher.
Thanks to some so-so pacing at the start, the film feels like it’s dragging on too long but definitely picks up as it goes on. Despite this, I still found myself enjoying it just as I did years ago when I had it on DVD. Jane and Travolta play their parts well, and I loved how they got Kevin Nash of WWE and WCW fame as “The Russian” who is a big baddie putting the hurt on the Punisher.
The 4K UHD with HDR makes the film look and sound awesome, as though it were just released earlier this year in theaters. The enhanced visual details as well as the punched up Dolby HD audio made me feel as though I were watching this again for the first time. It’s also good to see Lionsgate beefed up the special features this time around as some of them were missing from the original DVD release I used to have.
There’s audio commentary by director Jonathan Hensleigh where he goes into how he went about making the film with a strict budget and more, there’s a few deleted scenes with optional commentary by Hensleigh that I believe were included in the director’s cut of the film that was released on DVD a few years back. Also included are some behind the scenes features dealing with the stunts of the film where we learn Kevin Nash got stabbed for real during a fight scene but kept on going which is amazing, “Army of One: The Punisher Origins” goes into the story behind the character, “War Journal: On the Set of The Punisher” shows us how it was being on the set with the cast and crew, and there’s the Drowning Pool music video for “Step Up”.
Even with it’s pacing issues that make it a drag at first, I enjoyed watching The Punisher again as it’s still one of my favorite guilty pleasures, and seeing it in 4K just made the experience that much better. This is a cool revenge story mixed in with some pretty good actors doing their thing among all the shootouts and action going on in between. Toss in some special features that weren’t included in the initial DVD release, and you’ll punish yourself for missing out on this 4K release.