The SHC's Movie Review of Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

Rating of

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

One of Carpenter's Best
The SHC - wrote on 04/17/10

I'd say that John Carpenter is certainly one of my favourite filmakers. The guy's so creative and multi-talented, you've gotta love him. From his horror films like HALLOWEEN, THE THING, and THE FOG, to his action films like ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, Carpenter is certainly a great filmaker. However, one of my favourites of his is his second feature film, the highly acclaimed exploitation flick ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13. Let's see just what makes this one of my favourite action movies...

PLOT- The LAPD's oldest station, Precinct 9, Division 13, is closing down. Highway Patrolman Ethan Bishop (Austin Stoker) is assigned to run it during its last day. However, the Street Thunder Gang has worn a blood oath to kill every cop in the station. Lt Bishop, a few cops, and the station's risoners team up in a fight for survival. Will they survive the night?

REVIEW- This has to be one of my favourite action/exploitation movies of all time, next to the origional GONE IN 60 SECONDS and ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. The movie is so ballsy and intense for that time, you've gotta love it. For example, at the time it was unthinkable to have a little girl killed onscreen, and the MPAA even told Carpenter to cut that scene to get an R rating. So Carpenter cut the scene from one copy and showed it to the MPAA, then released it with the scene intact. That was a most awesome move, Mr. Carpenter, and I salute you for that.

The writing is fantastic. John Carpenter, who also directed, produced, and composed the music, does an excellent job in making the characters likeable and realistic. Certainly an example of great screenwriting right there.

Carpenter's direction is also great, pacing the film perfectly and choreographing the action scenes perfectly. I mean, those action sequences were intense as hell! The man is an extremely talented filmaker, it's a shame Hollywood screwed him over in the 90s.

The characters are all great. Ethan Bishop is certainly one of my favourite action heros aside from Snake Plissken, James Bond, and Ethan Hunt. He's just a normal guy who just wants to go home, but becomes a badass hero when his friends' lives are in danger. Napolean Wilson is the man, and although he's a convicted murderer on Death Row, you really root for him when he teams up with Bishop to protect the station. My other favourite character from the movie is Lawson, who becomes silent and catonic due to the shock of seeing his 5-year-old daughter shot by one of the Street Thunder. And boy, his revenge is awesome!

The acting is top notch here by all the actors. Austin Stoker, who is famous for being in sci-fi and blaxploitation films, is very badass here as Ethan Bishop. He really crafts a great hero right here who we all root for. Darwin Joston is also very awesome as Napolean Wilson. Nancy Loomis does an okay job as Julie, but she wasn't in the film enough to really make an impression on me. And Martin West is certainly very good as Lawson. Another noteworthy performance is Henry Brandon as Chaney, who gives a very good action g performance, although he isn't in the film much.

John Carpenter's musical score is probabely my second favourite of his, only succeeded by his HALLOWEEN score. Great use of synthesizers.

WRAP UP- Assault on Precinct 13 is one of the best action/exploitation films of the 1970s, and should be watched by any Carpenter fan, or fan of action movies. This is definately one of my favourite movies of his.

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