Assault On Precinct 13
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Isolated and cut off from the city inside a soon-to-be-closed L.A. police station, a group of police officers and convicts must join forces to defend themselves against the gang called Street Thunder, who have taken a blood oath to kill someone trapped inside the precinct.
From John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing and Prince Of Darkness), Assault On Precinct 13 combines the elements of a classic western and a modern thriller to create a riveting cult
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The film stars a police officer named Bishop played by Austin Stoker. He has not done much else besides after this which is a shame because he did a good job here. He has been reassigned to this run down precinct that is about to be shut down called Precinct 13. As the film progresses he is joined by a cast of colorful characters like Wells (Tony Burton), Leigh (Laurie Zimmer), Lawson (Marin West), and Napoleon Wilson played by Darwin Joston. Darwin Joston, sadly, is another great actor that did not go on to do much after this. Together these unlikely comrades must defend Precinct 13 which is under siege by this faceless gang of fanatics.
There is so much going for this film. The story is simple, but sometimes simplicity is good. The film has great atmosphere and mystery to it. Normally having a group of faceless villains with no character is boring and a huge fault against the film, but here I actually think it helps the film. These gang members go all out as well. There is a scene where they actually kill a little kid in cold blood, which was quite shocking for the 70s. The fact that these people are nameless and often faceless adds to the dread and makes the situation direr for our main characters. The action is also great also.
The best aspect about the film is definitely the characters, particularly the two leads. I really love Bishop and Napoleon and their relationship they have throughout the movie. Even though one is a cop and one is a criminal, it is clear that they both respect each other. Plus they both are given clever dialogue especially Napoleon.
The film does have a couple issues. First off there is a character near the beginning named Starker (Charles Cyphers) who plays a big role in the beginning, but after a certain point the movie just completely forgets about him. We are lead to believe that he died, but if that is the case it was a really stupid death. Secondly, I thought that the girl, who played Leigh, Laurie Zimmer, is not that good of an actor. For example, in the film, she gets shot and she barely has a reaction.
Overall, Assault on Precinct 13 is a great action/thriller movie. I have not seen the remake so I cannot comment on that. However, as far as this film goes it is very enjoyable and I wish more people would recognize it.
There's just something about movies made before the early 80s that just scream, "this-movie-was-made-a-long-time-ago." And Assault on Precinct 13 does too. 31 years is a long time, but after watching Assault on Precinct 13 again this past weekend for the first time since 1976, I was surprised to see how affective the movie still is.
This is one of the first R-rated movies that my dad took me to. So I chalked up the memorable impression that Assault on Precinct 13 made on me to...well...being an impressionable 15 year old kid that was just excited to being going to an R-rated film. Who knew that the reason was really that back in 1976 I was watching the movie that turned the corner for Director John Carpenter from B-movie director to one of the best Horror/Action/Sci-fi storytellers of all time?
The story is simple and the acting is pretty good. Some guy and his daughter have the unfortunate experience of crossing paths at the wrong time in the wrong place with a violent street gang. After a brutal exchange between family and gang, the guy retreats to Precinct 13 with the gang close behind, and the Assault ensues. (I'm not much into spoilers, so my vagueness is deliberate. I will say that the intense ice cream truck scene stayed in my mind for 31 years as if I'd seen it a day ago.)
The movie is presented in a nice widescreen aspect, but the audio is only stereo (which you won't even notice unless you have a Surround system). The tinny stereo sound was a constant reminder throughout that I was watching an "old" movie.
Overall, though, this classic cult film is worth a look...especially since Jean-François Richet's 2005 remake Assault on Precinct 13 (Widescreen Edition) was only fair at best.