Fan films have long been the ultimate love letter to fandom. A team of people laboring over an adaptation of their favorite property, not held back by the restrictions of Hollywood and production companies, simply doing it because they have a love of film and the source material. We here at Word of the Nerd will be showcasing the very best in these films and shedding light on some you may not know about. Welcome to Fan Film Friday.
The Punisher is a character with a long history in Hollywood, having appeared in three features since 1989. None of them critically acclaimed themselves, but 2004’s The Punisher has the highest rating on Rotten Tomatoes with a 29%. The film definitely has its faults, but its star Thomas Jane is not one of them. Jane does a fantastic job portraying Frank Castle here, but he does even better in the 2012 fan film Dirty Laundry.
Dirty Laundry was produced by Adi Shankar under his “Bootleg Universe” banner that has produced some top quality fan films over the years. It was shot in 2012 and stars Jane returning to the role of Frank Castle and features a cameo by Ron Perlman. The film shows a regular day in Castle’s life, just trying to do his laundry, only to witness a criminal gang terrorizing the people of the neighborhood. At first he goes against character, hearing and seeing these violent acts and not responding to them at all. It’s only when he speaks to Perlman’s character he is inspired to dish out his patented brand of punishment.
What truly makes this film great is that its entire 10 minute run time gives us more character development than three full length Punisher flicks combined. Frank goes through all the steps in the Hero’s Journey in less time than it takes for a pizza to be delivered. The director, Phil Joanou, captures the tone of the character expertly as well. It’s gritty, violent, and blood stained. Everything that the Punisher should be. The only complaint I have about this film is that it left me wanting more. Yes, this story wrapped up great, but I was so invested in Jane as Castle that I could easily sit through a feature length version of this particular Punisher.
Marvel Studios has recently regained the rights to the character, and with the success of “Daredevil” on Netflix, there have been some mention of bringing the Punisher to the small screen. If they do, we can only hope it can match up to the awesomeness of Dirty Laundry, the best Punisher movie ever made.