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Film / Dirty Laundry

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Dirty Laundry is a 2012 Short Film/Fan Film released during the San Francisco Comic-Con starring Thomas Jane as a solitary man living out of the back of an old van currently parked in a rough neighbourhood. While doing his laundry, he crosses paths with a local gangster and his crew, who have a score to settle with a local prostitute and a local boy who refuses to sell drugs for them. Unfortunately for them, although he is never named or explicitly identified in the story, the man is apparently Frank Castle — otherwise known as The Punisher.

Jane, who played the title role of The Punisher in the 2004 movie of the same name, referred to the film as a "love letter" to the character and he financed it himself. Directed by Phil Joanou (Gridiron Gang) and produced by Adi Shankar, it also has a cameo by Ron Perlman.

This short film contains examples of:

  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: The gang leader pleads for mercy when the prostitute he brutally raped earlier is about to throw the lighter at him.
  • All There in the Script: Goldtooth (the gang leader), DeShawn (the boy), and Big Mike (the store clerk) are only named in the credits.
  • Asshole Victim: Goldtooth and his gang pretty much sums what they do from harming kids and committing rape on a prostitute. Then the same prostitute set the latter on fire when he's incapacitated.
  • Big "NO!": The gang leader screams this after being light on fire.
  • The Cameo: Ron Perlman appears as convenience store clerk who had been a former soldier like Castle himself, but got paralyzed from trying stop a crime years before.
  • Captain Obvious: When the gang leader asks what the main character is doing there, outside a laundromat, the main character says that he is doing laundry.
  • Clothing Damage: One of the shirts our protagonist is washing has a bullethole in it. He decides to leave it behind, and when the kid he saved looks at the shirt he finds the Punisher symbol on it.
  • Combat Pragmatism: Would you expect anything less from Frank Castle? Using only a bottle of Jack Daniels, double tapping, and using the punks own weapons against each other he’s able to soundly trounce them suffering only maybe two gunshots and that’s mitigated cause he was likely wearing body armor.
  • Commonality Connection: The main character and the store clerk. The store clerk's story suggests that he once tried to stand up to some local criminals, only to end up in a wheelchair with, it's implied, his family murdered in retribution. He ended up succumbing to cynicism and despair. It's suggested that the main character and his family suffered a similar fate, but the main character took a different approach in response.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: From the time he walks out of the store and across the street, it takes the main character less than thirty seconds to defeat the entire gang, either killing or crippling all of them with nothing more than a bottle of Jack Daniels.
  • The Cynic: The store clerk points out that nothing matters or changes; even if the criminals outside the store were to be struck down right then, there would be five new criminals the next day.
  • The Drifter: In classic Western fashion, the main character embodies this.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The main character points out that he is six months sober when he turns down a sale on bourbon (And vodka), but after he listens to the clerk's story, he buys a bottle of Jack Daniels. He does not drink it, but rather uses it to kill all of the gang member sans the leader.
  • Dirty Coward: Goldtooth is a smug and vicious bully, but begs and pleads when at his victims’ mercy.
  • The Dog Bites Back:
    • Quite literally. The gang leader is prevented from taking a clear shot at the main character at a crucial moment when the kid, whom he and his goons had previously been bullying and beating up, bites him in the leg.
    • The person to actually light the gang leader on fire is the prostitute he had beaten and raped at the start of the film.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The first thing the gang leader does is beat up and rape a prostitute, before he starts the beating which draws the main character's attention.
  • Fan Film: Despite being financed by and starring the star of the official movie production, the film is not an official adaptation.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The shot cuts away right before the gang leader is set on fire, so all that is visible is a plume of fire and not his actual death. The other deaths though, are pretty gruesome.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: A bottle of Jack Daniels bought from the corner convenience store is used to take down a street gang by the main character.
  • He's Back!: Implied. Frank seems to be off his game, even refraining from stopping a woman getting raped. However, following his witnessing a boy being threatened by a gang and having a little philosophical chat with the clerk, he goes out and does what he does best.
  • Made of Iron: The main character gets tagged once and doesn't even slow down.
  • Man Bites Man: The little kid grabs and bites the gang leader's leg at a critical moment.
  • Man on Fire: The gang leader is beaten up by Frank and then drenched with the bottle of Jack Daniels; Frank then leaves an already-lit lighter by his broken legs. The prostitute then lights him on fire.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The store clerk points out that, once, he was the guy staring out the shop door at a crime. He went out there to do something, and now he is telling the main character this story from a wheelchair.
  • No Name Given: The main character is never named or identified, despite clearly being the Punisher.
  • Noodle Incident: Why he's residing inside a beaten down Ford van is unsure, but Thomas Jane explained that:
    Thomas Jane: "Frank is trying to take a breather after one particularly hard mission - which has forced him to blow his hideaway and lose everything - again. Something that Frank is pretty used to by now. He's managed to escape relatively unscathed, but all he's got left is a .45 or two. He's got to rebuild his life all over again. He's stolen a van and parked it on a forgotten street in the ghetto, where he climbs into the back and gets a few hours of much deserved sleep. Morning comes and he decides he might as well wash the blood out of his uniform, and put something in his stomach. His day hasn't even started yet when sure enough, trouble finds him. Again. The last thing he wants to do is get involved with some street punks' war party."
  • Oh, Crap!: The gang leader is angry and defiant when the main character beats him up, douses him in alcohol and threatens him with a lighter, but quickly becomes a cringing, craven wreck pathetically begging for his life when the prostitute he'd raped and beaten earlier picks the lighter up instead.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: A man so dedicated to punishing evil he's called The Punisher allowing a woman to be raped? Yeah. Pretty out-of-character.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "Do you know the difference between Justice and Punishment?" Said by the main character after dousing the gang leader in Jack Daniels and lighting a lighter, clearly intent on setting the gang leader on fire. But then he sets the lighter down and walks away, letting the prostitute the gang leader beat and raped at the start of the film kill the gang leader. Punishment is being struck down for committing evil. Justice is being struck down by the person against whom you committed evil.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: The main character does this by twisting the arm of a gangster who's holding a gun.
  • Papa Wolf: Frank is unamused when he sees the gang leader threatening a kid outside, and goes to do something about it.
  • Reusable Lighter Toss: Averted by the lead character, played straight by one of the hookers.
  • The Reveal: After the fighting has stopped, the protagonist goes to return to his van. The kid from earlier goes to return his T-shirt from the dryer, only for the man to tell him to keep it. Cue the man getting into his van and the kid unfolding the show a white skull on a pitch-black shirt.
  • Scary Black Man: Goldtooth is a vicious black man who terrorizes the area.
  • Short Film: The work is ten minutes long from start to finish.
  • Small Steps Hero: The clerk is absolutely right: taking out some street gang just means there will be a new street gang the next day, maybe even more than one. Good thing the main character hasn't succumbed to the idea that punishing crime is ultimately futile.
  • Soft Glass: Averted with the bottle of bourbon in every sense. The main character is able to beat multiple people senseless without breaking the bottle.
  • Tranquil Fury: After he sees the gang of punks threatening a kid outside and causing other vicious trouble, he proceeds to kill all of them and subject the leader to a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown before leaving him for the rape victim to finish off. All without changing his expression.
  • Vigilante Man:
    • The main character decides to get involved in a crime he witnesses while doing his laundry.
    • Ron Perlman's character is a deconstruction of the idea. He tried to interfere in a situation like that once and was left in a wheelchair and may have had his family murdered in retaliation. This guy was also even a war vet.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The gang leader has his gang beat up a small kid who refuses to run drugs for him.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: The main character is clearly the Punisher, and even owns his signature skull shirt, but is never once named or referred to as such. Hell, he never even holds a gun.