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Focus on…Vengeance Movies

The Punisher (2)
Well, its not Spiderman 2 or X-Men, but then again The Punisher never tried to be the goody-two-shoes, human-turned-freak-with-superpowers, formulaic comic book that typifies that genre. The Punisher was always Marvel’s darker side, a bit more sinister and a bit more real than the others. Heavy on the sadism, light on the flying and fancy capes. At the center of the story is a man, Frank Castle (played by Thomas Jane), who has his entire family wiped out by the crime boss of Tampa, Howard Saint (John Travolta). Now I know what you’re thinking – Tampa Bay? That place where everyone’s lounging in the 80 degree sun and sipping on boat drinks? Is anybody tough in Tampa? I don’t remember Dr. Dre comparing Compton to Tampa in any of his rap songs, so the plot is a bit hard to swallow, but let’s move on. Castle is left for dead – another classic villain move – but miraculously recovers thanks to a witch doctor who was conveniently introduced to us just moments before the shooting starts.

Despite the poor acting suggesting otherwise, Castle is enraged. He then launches a killing spree to avenge his dead family, taking down Saint’s henchmen one by one until the final showdown at the end. If you’re looking for sensational character development or something with a cool twist or only a small number of shots of Jane’s abs, this probably won’t be for you. But if you want to just sit back in a gratuitous violence-induced stupor and feel yourself become even more desensitized to murder, this movie might be up your alley. There are a few cool scenes, a fun round with a Russian, and Rebecca Romjin-Stamos is always easy to look at on the big screen.

Kill Bill 2 (1)
Tarantino’s recipe for a movie: mix together a bunch of sensationally cool characters with a number of superb cinematographic scenes, tie it together with a rather sloppy plot and storyline, then add a pinch of violence…okay, one more pinch…and another…oh just throw the whole thing in there, and voila, box office hit. Kill Bill 2 is a very solid flick and it may even make you forget Jackie Brown, although it still doesn’t reach the height of Pulp Fiction. In the first Kill Bill, The Bride (played by Uma Thurman) seeks vengeance on Bill (David Carradine) and his henchmen since he killed her husband to be, his friends, and her unborn baby. She spends most of the movie graphically killing a large number of people in over-the-top fight scenes that almost make you forget that she absolutely cannot act. Kill Bill 2 picks up where the first one left off, but balances the violence with cooler characters and a bit more story development. The dialogue, as is always the case with Tarantino movies, is fantastic, however a bit more film could have been left on the cutting room floor.

The characters, Quentin’s bread and butter, could be his best yet, and Pai Mei might be his funniest one to date. If you like Tarantino, you should definitely check this film out.

May 3, 2004
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