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Published:April 9th, 2007 13:14 EST

The Punisher: the birth of an anti-hero, available on DVD

By Garrett Godwin

If society won't punish the guilty, he will. Released in 2004, The Punisher was the latest movie adaptation from Marvel Comics starring Thomas Jane as the classic anti-hero who is part Batman (minus the cape and cowl) and part Rambo (specially trained in the military).

After years of working undercover for the FBI, Frank Castle (Jane) is weary and ready to spend more time with his wife Maria (Samantha Mathis) and their young son, Will.  To celebrate, they went to the islands for a family reunion that includes Frank Castle, Sr. (Roy Schneider). 

However, Howard Saint (John Travolta), one of the most dangerous men in the criminal underworld, has just buried his son, and is seeking revenge on the man responsible -- Frank Castle.  At his wife (Laura Harring)'s request, Saint sent his men headed by enforcer Quentin Glass (Will Patton) to the islands to massacre the entire Castle family. 

They thought they killed Castle, but they didn't.

Now fueled by grief and sorrow, he has nothing left to lose, as Castle sets out to take down the underworld to avenge the brutal loss of his family ... by any means necessary.

But along the way, Castle lives in an apartment building with a trio of outsiders, including a young woman with an abusive boyfriend.  Slowly but surely, Castle finds an unlikely family as well as a reason to go and a renewed sense of purpose.

On a $13.5 million budget, The Punisher found modest success at the U.S. box office, but strong DVD sales were enough for a sequel that is now shooting and will come out soon.  The DVD features extras such as deleted scenes, audio commentary with the director, a behind the scenes look of the film, and an evolution of how the character was brought to life in the comic books.

The Punisher is the ultimate anti-hero because he is a true vigilante that believes that "the ends justify the means".  He is part Batman because he lost his family due to a brutal crime, and has no superpowers -- but doesn't have the cape and cowl.  He is part Rambo because he is a one-man weapon skilled in guns, knives, and martial arts.  He is part Charles Bronson because he is taking the law into his own hands and making it his own.  He is the complete embodiment of "an eye for an eye".

When watching this movie, there are three things you must know:

1. If you want peace, prepare for war.

2. Frank Castle is dead.  He died with his family.

3. The law is inadequate.  It is necessary to pursue natural justice.  This isn't revenge, because revenge is an emotional response, not a valid motive.  This isn't vengeance; this is punishment.

Those who do evil unto others -- the killers, rapist, psychos, and sadists -- you will come to him well.

Frank Castle is dead.

Call him ... The Punisher, out on DVD.