Logline: A police sergeant and a band of criminals must work together to defend a closing LA police station against an army of gang members who have sworn a blood oath.
Written and directed by John Carpenter, Assault on Precinct 13 is an ultra-low budget siege film. It has the ingredients of any great Carpenter flick, such as glorious widescreen photography and a synth-infused score composed by Carpenter himself. Though largely ignored when it was released, the film has become a cult classic and is still fondly remembered as one of the filmmaker’s best works.
Carpenter entered the movie business, hoping to make westerns. In the 1970s though, westerns were very difficult to get produced. Assault, Carpenter’s second feature film after Dark Star (1974), is a western disguised as a siege film. Instead of the wide, open vistas of the American West, Carpenter uses the inner city of Los Angeles. The film includes a jaw-dropping scene, in which a young girl is shot down in cold blood. Carpenter admits he would not include this moment if he made the film today.
The police sergeant Ethan Bishop (Austen Stoker) forms an unlikely partnership with the notorious criminal Napoleon Wilson (Darwin Joston) and their banter is quite amusing. Carpenter’s sophomore directorial effort, Assault on Precinct 13 is a gritty neo-Western. Simplistic and yet very effective, this grass-roots Carpenter classic is sure to entertain.
Rating (out of ****): ***1/2