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Punisher: War Zone is a 2008 Americanmarker comic book action film directed by Lexi Alexander; based on the fictional Marvel Comics vigilante/anti-hero the Punisher. The film is a reboot which follows the original telling of Frank Castle's war on crime and corruption rather than a sequel to 2004's The Punisher, and is the first film to be produced under the Marvel Studios and Marvel Knights production banner, which focuses on films for mature audiences.Irish actor Ray Stevenson replaces Thomas Jane as Frank Castle. In the film, Castle wages a one-man war against a horribly disfigured mob boss known as Jigsaw (Dominic West). Punisher: War Zone was released in North America by Lionsgate on December 5, 2008, and was released February 6, 2009 in the United Kingdom.


Frank Castle (Ray Stevenson) has been the Punisher for six years as the story opens. He assaults a "beat the rap" party for a mob boss, Gaitano Cesare. Billy Russoti (Dominic West) escapes to his recycling plant hideout, and Detectives Martin Soap (Dash Mihok), and Saffiotti (Tony Calabretta), who were staking out the party, inform Castle. Castle infiltrates Russoti's hideout and kills one thug as he is exiting the bathroom. The gunshot alerts Russoti, and a brief fire fight between Castle and him ensues. During the battle, Russoti is thrown into a glass-crushing machine which does not kill him but leaves him hideously disfigured. Russoti later refers to himself as "Jigsaw" because the stitches in his face resemble puzzle pieces. Castle, who has taken cover behind the body of Nicky Donatelli (Romano Orzari), discovers that the first man he killed in the facility was an undercover FBImarker Agent.

Agent Paul Budiansky (Colin Salmon), the partner of the deceased agent, joins the NYPD's "Punisher Task Force", partnering with Soap to help bring Castle to justice. Meanwhile, a facially mutilated Russoti, recovered from his run-in with the Punisher, frees his deranged brother, "Loony Bin Jim" (Doug Hutchison).

Distraught that he has become the evil he swore to battle, Castle attempts to make reparations to Donatelli's wife, Angela (Julie Benz) and daughter, Grace (Stephanie Janusauskas) to no avail. Castle threatens to retire from the vigilante business, but his armorer, Microchip (Wayne Knight) forces him to reconsider telling him Jigsaw will go after Donatelli's family for revenge.

Jigsaw, Loony Bin Jim, and two goons, Ink and Pittsy, break into Donatelli's house and hold the family hostage. Meanwhile the Punisher tracks down Maginty (T. J. Storm) a known associate of Jigsaw, executing Maginty after he has told what he knows. Agent Budiansky and Detective Soap attempt to arrest the Punisher but are easily disarmed and the Punisher warns Budiansky to leave him alone. Just as the Punisher is about to walk away, Budiansky gets up and handcuffs himself to the Punisher. The Punisher tells him that Jigsaw went after Donatelli's family, but Budiansky sends one police car to check on the Donatelli house, intending to take the Punisher back to the station. When the patrol car fails to respond, he is convinced to check on the house. Budiansky enters the house, and is caught by Ink and Pittsy. Soap frees the Punisher, who kills Ink, and Pittsy and leads Donatelli's wife and daughter away. Budiansky then arrests Jigsaw and Loony Bin Jim after a short gun fight.

Jigsaw and his brother bargain with the FBI for their release by giving up Cristu Bulat (David Vadim), who was smuggling in a biological weapon destined for Arab terrorists in Queens. The brothers are granted total immunity, the $12m Bulat was paying to use Jigsaw's port and a file on Micro. They take Micro hostage, killing his mother in the process. They again take Donatelli family hostage, killing Carlos who Castle had left to protect them. Jigsaw sets himself up in the Bradstreet Hotel, hiring a small private army of criminals, including African-American gangbangers, Irish mobsters and Asian-American thugs all eager to kill the Punisher. Castle enlists the help of Agent Budiansky, who informs Cristu's father, Tiberiu Bulat (Aubert Pallascio), that Jigsaw is located at the Bradstreet Hotel. Tiberiu's goons start a shootout in the hotel's lobby, affording Castle a distraction.

Castle enters by jumping through a second-floor window, leading to a brutal firefight with Jigsaw's hired guns. After the shootout, Loony Bin Jim engages Castle in hand-to-hand combat; he is successful during the first half, but Castle becomes enraged and soon overpowers him. Realizing that he will probably not survive the brawl, Loony Bin Jim runs away. Castle chases him and confronts Jigsaw along with Loony Bin Jim, both holding Micro and Grace Donatelli at gunpoint. Jigsaw gives Castle a choice: If Frank shoots Micro, Jigsaw will let the others go free. Micro boldly offers his life to save the young girl, but Castle chooses to shoot Loony Bin Jim instead. As a result, Jigsaw kills Micro. Enraged by the loss of his partner, Castle attacks Jigsaw, which ends with the Punisher impaling Jigsaw with a metal rod and then throwing him onto a fire. As Jigsaw burns to death, Castle calmly tells him that "This is just the beginning". Outside, Castle is forgiven by Angela and bids farewell to Budiansky and the Donatelli family.

As Castle and Soap walk together, Soap tries to convince Castle to give up his vigilante status after having "killed every criminal in town." Soap however changes his mind when he is attacked by a mugger who quickly becomes another victim of the Punisher.


  • Ray Stevenson as Frank Castle / The Punisher: Prior to filming, Stevenson read every possible issue of the Punisher MAX series, underwent endurance, martial arts, and weapons training with former Force Recon Marines and film fight choreographer Pat Johnson.
  • Dominic West as Billy Russoti / Jigsaw: A vain and image obsessed mafia killer. By killing off the established gangsters Punisher creates the opportunity for Jigsaw to become a boss. Paddy Considine was considered for the role of Jigsaw in the film but the offer was retracted and given to West who had previously turned it down.
  • Doug Hutchison as James Russoti / Loony Bin Jim (LBJ): Looney Bin Jim is a chemically imbalanced, cannibalistic, psychopath whose veins practically flow with adrenaline and testosterone, leaving him in a constant state of homicidal mania that he alleviates by going on periodical killing sprees.
  • Dash Mihok as Detective Martin Soap: Head detective of the "Punisher Task Force".
  • Colin Salmon as FBI Agent Paul Budiansky: Former partner of Nicky Donatelli. Based on an NYPD officer of the same name in the Punisher story arc "Widowmaker".
  • Wayne Knight as Linus Lieberman / Microchip: Armorer to the Punisher.
  • Carlos Gonzalez-vlo as Carlos Cruz: A reformed Latino gang banger in the employ of Micro and to the Punisher.
  • Romano Orzari as Nicky Donatelli: An undercover FBI agent whose death is the catalyst for the events in the story.
  • Julie Benz as Angela Donatelli
  • Stephanie Janusauskas as Grace Donatelli
  • T. J. Storm as Maginty: Leader of an Urban Freeflow gang. Maginty comes from the Punisher story arc "Kitchen Irish" and is an Irish gangster.
  • Mark Camacho as Pittsy: One of Jigsaw's goons. One of two henchmen originating from the Punisher story arc "In The Beginning".
  • Keram Malicki-Sánchez as Ink: One of Jigsaw's goons. One of two henchmen originating from the Punisher story arc "In The Beginning".
  • Carlos Gonzalez-vlo as Carlos Cruz, a former Latino gangbanger who allied with Micro and effectively Punisher.
  • David Vadim as Cristu Bulat: One of multiple villains originating from the Punisher story arc "The Slavers".
  • Aubert Pallascio as Tiberiu Bulat: Cristu's father. One of multiple villains originating from the Punisher story arc "The Slavers".



In February 2004, two months prior to The Punisher's theatrical debut, Lions Gate Entertainment announced the studio's intent to produce a sequel. Avi Arad, chairman and CEO of Marvel Studios, expressed his interest in developing the franchise, saying that the second film would "become the fifth Marvel property to become a sequel." In March 2004, the director of the first film, Jonathan Hensleigh, said that he was interested in working with Thomas Jane again for The Punisher 2. In April 2004, Jane said that the villain for The Punisher 2 would be Jigsaw. In November 2004, Jane said that the studio was interested in making a sequel based on successful DVD sales of The Punisher and was developing the preliminary budget for the follow-up.


In March 2005, Marvel Studios announced a 2006 theatrical release date for The Punisher 2. In April 2005, Lions Gate Entertainment's CEO Jon Feltheimer confirmed at LGF's 2005 fiscal 3Q analyst call that the studio had completed its deal to develop The Punisher 2. Arad indicated the sequel would be among the "handful of Marvel films" to carry the R rating. Prior to July 2005, Avi Arad revealed that the script was being rewritten and that the sequel would start filming within the year. By July 2005, Janehad put on an additional 12 pounds of muscle, and was hoping for filming to start in late-2006.


In March 2006, The Punisher 2 was announced to be produced in Louisiana, being listed in the domestic charter under Louisiana's Secretary of State. In August 2006, Marvel Entertainment revealed a new film slate that included The Punisher 2 on its partial list with production still to be determined. Thomas Jane said that the writer was halfway through a draft and that he believed filming would begin by February 2007. Jane confirmed that the villain Jigsaw, first announced in April 2004, would be in the film. Jane also said that director Jonathan Hensleigh would not be returning to direct the sequel. In addition, Lions Gate Entertainment, amidst the studios returning to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, announced that The Punisher 2 would begin filming within the year. In October 2006, Thomas Jane said the script was due in a couple of weeks, and that it would be "darker, bloodier and more unfriendly than the first one." In December 2006, the screenplay was being rewritten by screenwriter Stuart Beattie.


It was announced that Kurt Sutter, a writer for The Shield, was involved with the script for The Punisher 2. Sutter said that he had an enjoyable time writing the script for the sequel and that it was going to be very true to the character. In a separate interview Thomas Jane revealed that a new script had been turned in and everyone was hoping it would work out, as the lack of a good script had been holding up production. He further stated that if everything goes as planned then filming should begin in June or July, but shortly afterward, in a letter to Ain't It Cool News Jane wrote that he had pulled out of the movie, stating:

In May 2007, director John Dahl was in talks to direct the movie, but decided to not helm the film, citing a bad script and lack of budget as reasons for passing. In June it was announced that Lexi Alexander would then take over the role as director as a result. In a December 2008 interview, Alexander revealed that when she first got the Punisher 2 script she passed on the project, but later changed her mind after reading the MAX adult Punisher comics, and getting assurances from Lionsgate that she could give the project and new look and feel – and cast a new actor in the central role of the Punisher.

On July 21, it was announced that actor Ray Stevenson would play the Punisher in the sequel to the 2004 film. Filming was slated to begin in October 2007 in Montreal. In August, a working title for the film, The Punisher: Welcome Back Frank was announced. On August 28, Lionsgate announced that the new working name for The Punisher 2 would be Punisher: War Zone. In mid-September, the director announced cast members joining Stevenson with Dash Mihok as Detective Martin Soap, Colin Salmon as Agent Paul Budiansky and Doug Hutchison as Loony Bin Jim. It was announced on September 25 via The Hollywood Reporter, that Dominic West will star as the main antagonist Jigsaw and Wayne Knight will play the Punisher's armorer Microchip. Filming occurred from October 22 until December 14 in Montreal. Principal photography for Punisher: War Zone was completed on December 27.


On February 14, 2008 writer Kurt Sutter officially removed his name from credit arbitration, stating: The film was set for September 12, 2008 release, but was pushed back 3 months to December 5, 2008. A teaser trailer was released on June 12, 2008. On July 25, 2008 Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News wrote an article claiming that Lexi Alexander had been removed as the film's director.. A second trailer was revealed to the public at the San Diego ComicCon on the same day. Lexi Alexander did not make an appearance at the convention, which caused speculation from the fans who attended the film's panel to question whether or not her name has been taken off the film. On August 15, website Latino Review reported that Lionsgate would be editing the film to receive a PG-13 rating. The director of photography, Steve Gainer, later claimed that the movie will be "R" and that Lexi is still on-board the project. On October 3, IGN confirmed that Lexi Alexander was not fired from the movie, based on an official statement they received from Lionsgate. In a December 2008 interview Alexander confirmed that she had had serious battles with Lionsgate, but denied that she was ever officially off the movie. "My name was never off, nor would I want it taken off, nor did I ever get a pink slip. The truth is that we had probably the same discussions that any other film has." Despite the much publicized discourse, Alexander says she's "extremely happy" with the final film:


Box Office

On its opening weekend Punisher: War Zone grossed $4 million in 2,508 theaters in the United States, ranking at #8 at the box office. As of March 10, 2009 the film has grossed $8,050,977 domestically, making Punisher: War Zone the lowest grossing film based on a Marvel Comics property. It has also grossed $2,038,396 internationally, bringing it to $10,089,373 worldwide.


Punisher: War Zone received mostly negative reviews from film critics. On the film review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, the film received an 26% approval rating, based on 96 reviews, with an average rating of 4.2/10 (6% approval rating from top critics and 60% from the RT community).Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film two out of four stars, writing "You used to be able to depend on a terrible film being poorly made. No longer. The Punisher: War Zone is one of the best-made bad movies I've seen." And that the film's only flaw is "that it's disgusting". Clark Collis writes that Ray Stevenson's "character could be called the Not-Much-of-a-Learning Curveinator."

Felix Vasquez of Cinema Crazed who loved the previous film version gave Punisher: War Zone a positive review, claiming "War Zone is a better film".Edward Porter of the UK Sunday Times gave the film three out of five stars writing, "Earning an 18 certificate with its violence, the film is kids’ stuff in all other respects: over-the-top shootouts, monstrous and barking-mad villains, a bumbling sidekick and so on. Highly enjoyable tosh".Victor Olliver of Teletext wrote, "This is as true to a Marvel comic tale as I've ever seen - gory, serious, intense, dark and utterly psychotic".. Movie reporter Peter Hartlaub of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the film a positive review, writing that it is the "best Punisher movie by far. The action is satisfying and the dark story is close to the tone of its Marvel Comics source material."

Home media

Punisher: War Zone was released on Region 1 DVD on March 17, 2009. It was released on two different versions, a 2-disc special edition with a digital copy and a standard version featuring both widescreen and fullscreen versions of the film. DVD sales for the film was just below the box office earnings with $9,173,143 in revenue from 483,497 units sold.



A soundtrack for Punisher: War Zone was released on November 25, 2008. The soundtrack includes the original track "War Zone", written for and inspired by the film, by musician Rob Zombie. An online contest was held by Lionsgate, and led to 7 Days Away (a band local to Connersville, INmarker) taking first place with the track "Take Me Away".

  1. "War Zone" by Rob Zombie
  2. "Final Six" by Slayer
  3. "Psychosocial" by Slipknot
  4. "Historia Calamitatum" by Rise Against
  5. "Fallen" by Seether
  6. "Bulletproof" by Kerli
  7. "Take Me Away" by 7 Days Away
  8. "The Past Is Proof" by Senses Fail
  9. "Butterfly Wings" by Machines of Loving Grace
  10. "Genesis" by Justice
  11. "Showdown" by Pendulum
  12. "Refuse/Resist" by Hatebreed
  13. "Lunatic" by Static-X
  14. "Days of Revenge" by Ramallah


An original score to the film was composed by Michael Wandmacher. Wandmacher's primary focus in making the score was to, "Create a definitive musical identity for the Punisher. I knew I needed something dark, relentless and muscular, but I also couldn't forget Frank's humanity, his personal torment and deep sadness. So, I approached the job equally as a fan and as a composer." In order to make the character of Frank Castle seem less one dimensional Wandmacher decided to include snare cadences and powerful, dynamic ostinatos and slowly rising string repetitions to mimic a relentless entity, like an approaching battalion.

  1. "Main Titles" (3:03)
  2. "Lights On!" (1:10)
  3. "The Burden" (2:16)
  4. "Rich in Mercy" (1:05)
  5. "Death of the Loved" (1:25)
  6. "Infiltrate and Destroy" (2:49)
  7. "This Is Ground Zero" (2:10)
  8. "A Pretty Face" (2:21)
  9. "The Russians" (3:10)
  10. "A Call to Arms" (1:16)
  11. "Safe Harbor" (1:26)
  12. "A Wish for Death" (2:53)
  13. "Freeze!" (1:09)
  14. "Two Berettas" (2:00)
  15. "I Want My Applesauce Back" (2:37)
  16. "Held Hostage" (3:19)
  17. "Joyful Mayhem" (2:55)
  18. "Let the Games Begin" (4:24)
  19. "LBJ" (1:46)
  20. "Let Me Put You Out of Your Misery" (4:11)
  21. "Aftermath" (1:33)


Ray Stevenson has expressed interest in sequels, hinting Barracuda as a possible villain. At the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con, when asked if he signed on for more Punisher movies, he said, "If I had my wish, it's going to run and run. It's up to the fan base. If this works, we get to do it all again." Commenting on the film's villains, Stevenson stated: “We dispatched a few, but there are some other great ones,” he laughed. “Some of the great stories that are in [the Punisher comics], there is one about the Slavers — the prostitution rings, and bringing women over from Europe. There is also Barracuda, who is almost as mean and ornery as Frank. Some are more real, or more tangible than others, while some of them are larger-than-life like Jigsaw, but there are plenty [of stories to tell]. What I love is the depth that [writer] Garth Ennis gets to; he doesn’t do broad brush strokes, he really gets in there. These villains have a real motivation, a real determination that must be stopped, and you get to play off of it. That should be fun.”


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