An English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix is supplied, with an English closed captioning option available as well. The mix is very effective, making terrific use of the rear channels during the action scenes while keeping most of the dialogue relegated to the front and center channels (except when mandated by the geography of the soundscape). Dialogue is clean and clear and always easy to understand and the action scenes pack quite a wallop. Explosions and gunfights make great use of the surrounds and the subwoofer, which adds some nice bass and atmosphere to the film.
First up is a commentary track from director John Hensleigh. He's got plenty to say about the film, and its origins as a comic book and why he changed what he did in relation to some of the source material. He's never at a loss for words and has plenty to say about a myriad of topics as the film progresses, including films that influenced him (as I stated, The Punisher wears its influences proudly on its sleeve), as well as certain visual aspects he worked to retain for the film and about the stigma that can come from working on a big screen adaptation of a comic book. It's quite an interesting listen and if you enjoyed the film, it's well worth sitting through it again to listen to the commentary track.
There are also two brief deleted scenes included on the disc, both of which have optional commentary from Hensleigh available over top of them or that can be viewed with their original audio mix. The first is an alternate opening scene in which Saint arrives at his club, and the other is some more character development between some members of the family. Neither of these scenes would have really added a whole lot to the film and from what the director states on the commentary, he realizes this too – thus the cuts were made.
Lion's Gate has whipped up four featurettes that detail the behind the scenes action and genesis of the film in quite a bit of detail:
War Journal: On The Set Of The Punisher (29:30) - Clocking in at almost half an hour, this in depth look at life on the set of the film is an interesting watch as it intersperses footage of shot setups and the like with cast and crew interviews. It takes a candid approach and comes across as a realistic feeling documentary look at what went on behind the camera during the making of the film.
Keepin' It Real: The Punisher Stunts (27:15) - The focus of this piece is the scene where the Punisher's car jumps over the bridge. This piece takes us through that stunt (and a few other lesser ones) from start to finish and we get to see how it was done. Hensleigh and a few of the stuntmen who worked on the film with him are interviewed in between clips of the stunt work and again, this is a keen little segment.
Army Of One: Punisher Origins (12:55) - I found this to be the most enjoyable of the four segments. As a long time comic geek it was nice to see some of the guys who actually worked on the character (and in Gerry Conway's case – created him!) get some props. Garth Ennis, the current writer on the series, is on hand to offer his comments on the film as well as a few other creators. Plenty of great comic art can be seen and it's interesting to compare the character's early appearances to the way he is portrayed in the film.
Drawing Blood: Bradstreet Style (6:10) - If you're familiar with or a fan of Tim Bradstreet's moody artwork (currently seen every month on the cover of The Punisher comic books from Marvel among other places) then you'll enjoy this quick look at his marketing and conceptual artwork for the film.
Rounding out the extra features are a preview of the upcoming Punisher video game from THQ and a video from Drowning Pool for their song Step Up, which is featured on the film's soundtrack and which uses clips from the movie.
Lion's Gate has given The Punisher a nice DVD presentation. They audio and video are good and the extras are interesting. Those of you out there who, like me, fondly remember the days Spaghetti Westerns or the action films of the eighties should enjoy this comic book adaptation and the film comes recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.