Ep. 69 – The Essentials: Punisher War Zone

To Listen, Click… Here


This week, special guest host Donovan Grant and I conversate about a genuinely great film, but maybe not such a great Punisher film…

Donovan drops some knowledge from the world of comics, and I do my best (and fail) to not prattle on and on about Lexi Alexander. It’s just weird because she’s an actual human being who makes movies, not the usual corporatized artiste. I don’t usually talk about real people, just abstract names on IMDb lists, or, you know, robots.

In fact, I’d better give a Lexi Alexander primer before you listen to the episode, because I make several references to her (she is the director). My experience with Lexi Alexander has been fascinating — you’ll want to pull up a chair.

I don’t even know that I was aware a woman directed this film the first time I saw it — it’s impossible to tell (well, not maybe impossible) in these days of Michel Gondrys and Jamie Alexanders and people with ambiguous and/or foreign names. It’s always easier to assume a guy did it, and after seeing a movie like Punisher: War Zone? Yep…


But at some point I did find out, and was very happy, and later I ordered Green Street Hooligans on DVD from Amazon, and made some dummo tweet about it because I don’t know what to tweet about ever (somebody tell me) and she retweeted it and then followed me back! I was starstruck, because that was the first time anyone either famous or personally interesting ever acknowledged me — and she’s both those things.

So not only is she a friend to the people, even the tiny runts like myself who gain her nothing in the long run, I also discovered that she’s an extraordinary individual, the exact type of superhero that Donovan and I seem to be talking about at the end of the episode, an antidote to our overly violent and overly singular world of American cinema.

Alexander is a prominent and very strong voice on the frontline for left wing causes of all variety, but in particular the representation of minorities in Hollywood, both in front of and behind the camera (the narrative has always been about getting those POC faces on the screen, but then who’s directing them, and writing them?). Her blog gets a little over my head sometimes, because my interest in online piracy is only so cultivated, but her arguments on that and other things are compelling enough to warrant a little gander regardless your dwindling interests, you POS.

As you might imagine, she doesn’t get a lot of high-profile work in this, being a vocal proponent of such unpopular dinnertable topics as feminism and equality (most vocal, and the most intimidating — she’s a half-German, half-Arab martial arts champion — and look at the movies she makes, for bajeesus sake), and a critic of all of Hollywood’s narrowness, whether about anti-piracy or its silent complicity with racially/gender biased industry hiring practices. So I think her fans, especially those who know her because of this movie, are always gonna be thankful for Punisher: War Zone because who knows when a white guy in a suit’ll cut a check in her name. For her to do another movie like this, it may take her overhauling the entire system, as she’s keen on doing. It’s about time…

She’s not so interested in blowing the whistle as punching the whistle through your face, so… well… little mystery as to why I’m intrigued by a character like that. It’s a little crusherino, but I try to keeps it real and… just hope that she never reads this.

Hey, it’s possible — we are Twitter BFFs after all, but… well, it’s a presumptuous fear nonetheless.

Other shownotes: I never would’ve watched Punisher: War Zone were it not for this glowing recommendation from The Greatest Movie Ever! Podcast, which is also how I found out about Doomsday. Movies that, again, are not easily marketed, because they are so foreign, despite being homegrown (well, I think Doomsday was a British production and it shot in Newcastle and parts of South Africa?). I did my best to not just repeat the things they said, but listening to that show right before this recording definitely made me hone in on that “he’s on a constant meth high” line.

Yeah, and the only reason I saw the 2004 edition was because my best bud back then was really into it, or theoretically, because we watched it together and… as we discovered, it was no Blade. Or Constantine, for my part (I heart that movie). Still, he liked the idea of it, the potential, and so I don’t think he had any interest in the ‘sequel,’ because it was so different-looking. After hearing Paul Chapman and Daryl Surat’s take, which was very much from that flabbergasted defense mode (realizing that a lot of people hate this movie), I knew it would be a good watch. So we saw it together and he was like… what?

So that’s where the idea comes from, that this is a movie out of place. Where the 2004 movie was tonally as expected, in line with garbage like Taken and other Liam Neeson greatest hits of the day (I used to love that guy), the 2008 movie is a colorful, explosive, ultraviolent — and fun — experience.

Taken isn’t garbage, but it’s a very average PG-13 action movie with a really weird Tom Clancifying of the already sufficiently Tom Clancy power fantasy at the center. A Walk Among the Tombstones though, is garbage. Straight up — fuck that movie. I’d never once seen Women in Refrigerators on the silver screen, and this one was a doozy. Tasteless, brainless, and just so indicative of a dangerous mindset that the… never mind, just fuck it.


Well, ok you’ve twisted my arm. So indicative of a dangerous mindset that a woman’s body can and will be manipulated physically, sometimes to horrific ends. Not only that we gotta nut up and be the bad men who keep the other bad men from the door, but it’s also this pervasive anatomizing of the female body that is just… enough. That movie, and its kind, are not about drawing attention to the violence women face, but gleefully trading in it to set up some dumb action thing.

I don’t know, I hesitated when I thought ‘female body,’ and was about to type those words. These are not my ideas to express. Also, probably say ‘woman’s body?’ Oh, I did. Good for you, I guess.

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