The Punisher (1989) Australian Blu Ray Review; Digging Into The Uncut, Workprint and Theatrical Versions

The Punisher (1989) Umbrella Entertainment Blu ray cover

The Australian label Umbrella Entertainment has been slowly making a name for itself in the Cult Film's market with some pretty outstanding releases in the last few years. Though I personally hadn't gotten any yet, when I learned they would finally be releasing a version with all the deleted footage intact, and on Blu Ray, well I immediately jumped at the chance and pre-ordered my copy.

I will say that the website and the packaging both state that this would be a Region B locked release, which was surprising since I was told by several others who buy Umbrella Ent. releases regularly that they're usually Region Free. I ordered it anyway and figured I'd just borrow a friends PS4 to watch it if I had to.

First thing I did was send Umbrella Ent. an email regarding this and they were kind enough to immediately reply. They stated that even though the packaging states it's Region B, it is in fact a Region Free release and I can verify that I am able to play it on my standard U.S. blu ray player, which seriously made my day.

The Punisher (1989) Blu ray Reversible Cover Art
The first thing I noticed is that while this is a blu-ray upgrade, I have to be honest and say that I really didn't notice that much of a difference in quality. There is still tons of graininess in a lot of the film, and in terms of sharpness, again, I didn't notice much of a difference. But you know what? I really don't care. This is a film that was actually shot on film in the late 80's and I have to expect that it's never going to get a crystal clear image. Regardless, this isn't the type of film you want to see that way anyway, is it? It's an ultra-violent low-budget grindhouse flick, and I think the way it's presented here perfectly suits the film.

Now, let's get down to the real reason I, and probably you, got this film. It's for the alternate versions found on this disc. This release from UE provides us with 3 different versions of the film, all located on a single disc; The Regular Theatrical Release, The Uncut Version, and The Goldblatt Workprint Version.

The Theatrical Cut is presented in HD and looks as good as it's ever going to look, but complete with graininess as I stated before. The other 2 versions however, the Uncut and Workprint, are both presented in SD (Standard Definition).
- The Uncut Version, which I was told includes about 10 seconds of additional violence in certain scenes, is actually pretty good in terms of quality. In fact, it's pretty darn close to the HD transfer of the Theatrical Cut.
- The Workprint Version however, is a bit more of a downgrade. The quality seems to come from a VHS or Beta source. Still, when you consider the fact that you can finally see the 17 minute prologue completely edited into the film in a fairly decent quality, when the only available version I'd ever come across before was very poor quality in little clips, well that's just awesome.

Also located in the Special Features are 2 interviews; One with director Mark Goldblatt, which is very informative, and the other with Lundgren at a gym. While the Lundgren interview is much shorter and even comes across as impromptu since he's standing there sweating after working out, it also offers some very good bits of information regarding his casting and how he prepared for the role.

All in all an outstanding release if you ask me. I've been having a blast digging through all 3 different versions as well as the interviews. If there was anything I could have asked them to add or change, I would have loved to have seen the Workprint Version also in HD, and though it's never been mentioned anywhere to my knowledge, I would love to see a "Making Of" featurette. But like I said, I've never heard of there being any behind-the-scenes footage of this particular film, so I doubt any even exists.

By now you can probably find this release on many different sites, but if you want to buy it directly from the company that produced it, you can do so HERE.

*special thanks to Jeremie Damoiseau, my friend and author of the new book "Punisher: The Secret History", for some extra bits of info regarding these different versions.

I mistakenly forgot to mention that there are other additions to the Special Features section that include an audio commentary by director Mark Goldblatt on the Uncut Version, a Gag Reel, and Theatrical Trailer.

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