The Punisher (1989) is considered by many to be one of the worst comic book movies. It is easily the worst of the three Punisher films. This straight to video flop starred Dolph Lundgren as the Punisher and was directed by Mark Goldblatt. Goldblatt went on to be the editor for the Super Mario Bros. movie, another cosmic failure.
For starters, the Punisher is stripped of his trademark death’s head throughout the movie. Instead of being a highly trained soldier, Frank Castle is depicted as an ex cop presumed to be dead after a Mafia hit on his family. Instead of safe houses as depicted in the comic, he opts to live in the sewers Ninja Turtle style. Since it must get lonely in the sewers, he has an elderly alcoholic friend named Shake, who talks only in rhyme. Despite this out of character association, the Punisher has managed to kill a hundred and twenty five criminals in five years. If you do the math, that’s only about two criminals a month. We all know the Punisher of the comic world can do much better than that.
The Punisher’s attacks have managed to weaken the NYC Mafia though. They decide to consolidate as one group but are rudely interrupted by the Yakuza. The Yakuza want to take control of NYC’s organized crime operations. To accomplish this goal, they have kidnapped all of the children of the Mafia leaders and are holding them for ransom. The Punisher’s alcoholic buddy convinces him to help the Mafia save their kids and off he goes.
The Punisher is able to save all the kids but the son of the head Mafia leader, Gianni Franco. He also gets locked up but is quickly busted out by the Mafia. Another unlikely team up occurs, when he and Franco go on a rescue mission to save the kid. After killing all of the Yakuza, they turn on each other with the Punisher winning of course. This barrage of bad acting and sub par special effects with the gaul to call itself a movie, ends with the Punisher telling Franco’s kid, not to be like his father.