All three movies have their entertaining moments but trying to pick a favourite is a toughy.
Let’s go over all 3.
The Punisher (1989): Dolph Lundgren blew away a million bad guys as Frank Castle; he doesn’t don the skull t-shirt at any point and many fans didn’t like how they deviated from the source material. I still enjoyed the movie because I’m a huge fan of Dolph and the action kicks plenty of ass too. Some of the acting isn’t the greatest though and it does seem a little cheap in places.
The Punisher (2004): Thomas Jane was arguably born to play this role and it’s my personal favourite of the three movies; despite some ill-advised comic relief from Castle’s new friends it still has some pretty hardcore violence including Ben Foster having facial piercings torn out which is always tough to watch. Jane plays Castle as a sympathetic and likable guy who lives by the law but when his whole family is executed by John Travolta’s gangster villain he slowly turns into The Punisher and wreaks his revenge on the criminal underworld. I enjoyed Travolta in this movie too and think he’s great fun as a bad guy. He doesn’t camp it up too much either and comes across as a real piece of shit.
The Punisher: War Zone (2008): This is widely regarded as the weakest of The Punisher movies and I’d have to say that maybe it is; Stevenson kicks ass as Castle and plays his as a hardcore badass. It’s let down by too much neon lighting and over the top villains who just come off as silly and annoying. A shame really as the cast is good and the violence is off the scale. Heads explode and bad guys are blown away and yet it feels too much like a cartoon and the mixed tone doesn’t really work. I do enjoy it though because I think Stevenson is a commanding presence on screen.
So like I said, for me Jane’s Punisher is my favourite, then Dolph and then Stevenson. But that’s just me, take the poll or be punished!