Living in the sewers under an American city, the Punisher is Frank Castle (Dolph Lundgren), a presumed-dead rogue cop who broods over the deaths of his family and spends his spare time ruthlessly murdering gangsters.
First out of the post-Batman glut of comic book heroes to transfer to the big screen, Marvel Comics' The Punisher is a tougher, rougher, more blatantly homicidal contrast to such super-powered goody-goodies as Captain America, Spiderman and Daredevil, all of whom are due soon.
The addition of some serious stubble fails to make Lundgren into anything approximating to an actor, but this is nevertheless high-grade violent nonsense. It opens with a titles sequence in the spirit of the old Avengers series, and then throws in an almost non-stop parade of machine-gun massacres, martial arts battles, motorcycle stunts, explosions, tortures, ninja stunts, restaurant shoot-outs, car crashes and comic strip gore. Feminists in the audience are likely to particularly enjoy Miyori's Fu Manchu impersonation, and applaud the performance of Zoshka Mizak as a yakuzette who gives the Punisher some hard times with her razor earrings.
At times a subversive, sub-Marvel thrill, it might be best to come back to this after the glut of goody-goody heroes due to bombard our screens have passed.