Monday, 15 December 2008

Underrated Movies - part 4

Directed by: Jonathan Hensleigh
Written by: Jonathan Hensleigh and Michael France
Based on the Marvel comic book

This is one of my favourite Marvel movies, because it doesn't pull any punches. As far as comic book movies go, this is one of the most merciless and brutal. Thomas Jane is perfect for the role of Frank Castle - the brooding vengeance-fueled vigilante out for revenge against Howard Saint (John Travolta).

With a great supportive roles from Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Will Patton and the super-versatile Ben Foster only add to the depth of the movie, providing humour and subplot.

The Punisher is a very violent movie, but it's all justified. With a powerful catalyst that sets the tone of the movie and kicks Castle off on his revenge trail, and a killer finale, this is one of the best action films out there.

Despite being a very dark and angry movie, it doesn't take itself too seriously. In a lengthy fight sequence with 'The Russian' Frank Castle is beaten to a very bloody pulp and you really think that might be it for him. But after getting back in the zone, The Punisher becomes bigger and badder then ever.

In a violent action-crazy finale, Castle takes on a building full of opponents and confronts his nemesis. And the result is a visually amazing as the iconic Punisher logo burns brighter than ever.

Now I'm completely pissed off that Thomas Jane isn't returning for the second film Punisher: War Zone. The skull has been taken up by Brit actor Ray Stevenson. This initially looked like a huge mistake because for me, Jane will always be The Punisher. But the trailer looks quite good. And Julie Benz (of Buffy and Angel) appears to be taking on the role of Castle's love interest. I have high hopes, but I just don't think it will live up to the amazing revenge story that is The Punisher.

"Those who do evil to others - the killers, the rapists, psychos, sadists - you will come to know me well. Frank Castle is dead. Call me... The Punisher."
-Frank Castle

Directed by: Florent Emilio Siri
Written by: Doug Richardson
Based on the book by Robert Crais

I first watched this when my sister got it for her birthday. And I was amazed. Bruce Willis stars as Detective Jeff Talley - a cop who sets up home in a small peaceful town. naturally it doesn't stay peaceful for long. A bunch of teenagers rob a house but find themselves in very deep water. A full-scale hostage situation breaks out and it quickly becomes all to clear that Mars - played by the amazing Ben Foster - is not just a petty crook.

Bruce Willis is one of those actors that gets better with age. He seems tougher now that he was in the first Die Hard movie. I think it's the lack of hair that does it - I don't care how old the guy gets, I would never like to take him on! And this performance is easily as good as his Die Hard masterpieces.

More of a thriller and an action film, a brilliant supporting cast provides subplot as everything takes hold. With a terrifying twist about a third of the way in, the film becomes all the more serious. The tension increases and the stakes are raised as Talley is forced to confront his past mistakes to save those in need.

The opening is one of the best filmed. We see Talley in a hostage situation, trying to negotiate the prisoners' release. And he makes one crucial mistake - an error in judgement. He tries something that doesn't work. He takes a risk and falls on his arse.

In a super-tense slo-mo scene, Talley races to the rescue and fails yet again. That's right - Bruce Willis fails in the opening scene! And I think that's part of the reason it's so powerful. It's a stunning opening that haunts you throughout the movie but is never bettered.

Hostage is one of those movies you'll watch again and again and always be on the edge of your seat. I don't know why so few people have seen it, I really don't! This is definitely one to see. Oh, and it doesn't pull any punches, as you'll see from the opening bit of dialogue below:

"I need to talk to that motherfucker! You hear me? I want to talk to that fucker right now! I want that motherfucker!"
Shiny times,

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