Wolfgang (Robert Amstler) is an Austrian mercenary murder machine; a real bad cat who you surely would not want to cross paths with. But as nasty a customer as he is, Wolfgang has an emotional side that comes to the fore as he befriends a sick orphan girl named Maria (Leia Perez) while convalescing in the hospital after receiving some war wounds during an assignment, and becomes the father figure in her life, as well as growing close to the comely local tour guide, Lisa (Nicole Stark), he hires to help plan good times for his pint-sized charge. Of course our “hero” continues carving folks a new asshole for those sweet greenbacks…but soon he must decide between his career and protecting the innocents that need him most.
Brought to life by Writer/Director Rene Perez (of Death Kiss fame…which I reviewed right here), The Punished is another fun throwback to cinema the likes of which would fill the shelves in the VHS-era glory days of direct-to-video action flicks, right down to it’s heavily accented star.
Wolfgang makes for a hero in the Arnold mold (the Austrian accent and the fact he was Schwarzenegger’s body double add to the effect), and Amstler portrays the character with equal doses of stoic bad-assery, heart, and even humor.
Speaking of performances; Stark makes for an engaging female lead, and the relationship she forms with Amstler among the turmoil of her life is believable and enjoyable to watch.
Also up to snuff are the flicks action sequences as if Perez knows one thing above all else it’s how to create a fun and energetic shoot out, that’s for sure!
Now while the aforementioned action on display is solid, there unfortunately isn’t enough of it. While the crux of the story is obviously Wolfgang’s battle to be a good man while doing unspeakable acts, I wanted more of that glorious red sauce to splash across the scene. And as we are talking about those set-pieces; the end of this film is nearly identical to the climax of Death Kiss (I wonder if this was filmed first and was a dry-run of what was to come?), not that it’s a bad thing as it’s well done here as well as in ol’ D.K.
Along with the feature film, Wild Eye Releasing have included a few bonus features on this DVD release as well, including a mega brief behind-the-scenes featurette featuring Amstler and his gym regimen, and a commercial to film Shasta…and that’s it…so yeah?
If you are looking for an action film that delivers some solid performances and is a low-budget throwback to the video boom of old, then give The Punished a go; it may be light on set-pieces, but it delivers on the heart so necessary in a production such as this.