Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

TOMATOMETER

——

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: Lean, taut and compellingly gritty, John Carpenter's loose update of Rio Bravo ranks as a cult action classic and one of the filmmaker's best.


Movie Info

Cops, secretaries, and prisoners stuck in a soon-to-be-shuttered L.A. police station fight off a horde of murderous gang members in director John Carpenter's homage to Howard Hawks. When police officer Bishop (Austin Stoker) is left in charge of Precinct 13 on the last day it's open, he isn't prepared for the onslaught of a murderous street gang who have come into the possession of an enormous arsenal of guns. Finding himself trapped in the precinct with a pair of secretaries (Laurie Zimmer and … More

Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By: John Carpenter
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 11, 2003
Runtime:
Turtle Releasing - Official Site

Cast


as Ethan Bishop

as Napoleon Wilson

as Chicano Warlord

as Oriental Warlord

as Lawson

as Bus Driver

as Wells

as First Bus Guard

as Second Bus Guard

as Chicano Tough

as Oriental Tough

as Ice Cream Man

as Chicano Hood

as Black Hood

as Gang Member

as Chaney

as Gang Member

as Gang Member

as Radio Announcer

as Police Commissioner

as Gang Member

as Patrolman Baxter

as White Warlord

as Black Warlord

as Gang Member
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Assault on Precinct 13

All Critics (39) | Top Critics (4)

Hopelessly violent but exceedingly well made.

Full Review… | May 25, 2011
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Novelty of a gang swearing a blood oath to destroy a precinct station and all inside is sufficiently compelling for the gory-minded to assure acceptance.

Full Review… | July 6, 2010
Variety
Top Critic

One of the most effective exploitation movies of the decade.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Mr. Carpenter is an extremely resourceful director whose ability to construct films entirely out of action and movement suggests that he may one day be a director to rank with Don Siegel.

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

Perhaps Carpenter's best film next to The Thing, this is a model of low-budget filmmaking, with a tight script, appropriately tight-lipped actors and atmospheric location shooting.

Full Review… | April 18, 2014
Creative Loafing

Carpenter stages the action expertly, always getting maximum impact from the moments when Precinct 13 explodes into violence.

Full Review… | November 12, 2013
Aisle Seat

Audience Reviews for Assault on Precinct 13

Low low budget exploitation thriller which was Carpenters first proper film after the seriously low budget sci-fi 'Dark Star'.

Inspired by 'Rio Bravo' and almost any other old western really, this stand off thriller is one of Carpenter's best films for me. Again the plot is very basic but executed so well. A group of men, mainly police and convicts and a couple women are holed up in a defunct police station as a large gang of thugs lay siege outside. Your typical last stand against the bad guys.

What works (like other old films) is the fact there isn't lots of fancy ass camera angles, huge explosions, tarty gun play and slow motion. Everything is created real time and with as much flare and creativity as possible, this always (well mostly) works out for the better visuals wise.

I admit there are few sequences which do look rather hokey these days, when the hoodlums attack the station via the windows they don't seem to work out that's an easy way to get blown away. The final showdown involving an explosion isn't very glorious truth be told but its still acceptable.

Hardly violent a tall watching today but back in the day there was a huff over one scene where a kid is shot virtually point blank. I can see why as it is a cold little sequence but these small quirks make you chuckle these days, adds spice to the film when you look out for the infamous bits.

The cast really help this film it must be said. Was never really meant to do anything money wise methinks, or suppose to be classic film making but the cast really juiced up the film to cult status. Stand out players easily being Stoker as the loan cop, all that's left after the initial bloodshed.

His stoic stern calm manner is the perfect leader, the perfect hero standing for what's right and true. Alongside him is Joston as the gruff tough ice cool convict who becomes Stoker's close ally. Joston's performance may be hammy by today's standards but its the perfect foil and is typical of many old classic western tough guys...'got a smoke?'

For a film that plays out within the small confines of a few rooms the tension is solid, you wanna see what's gonna happen. Not much happening outside accept for the odd shot of hoods running around, action is small, fast and quick whilst visuals are enough to get the job done.

phubbs1
Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer

½

Ok, first things first: I know this is a flawed filmed filled with lots of plot holes and errors (some of them nonsensical and unforgivable), but I love this movie. It has a lot of sentimental value for me, and has left a big impression on me ever since I first saw it.

The story, basically a loose remake of/riffage on Rio Bravo, concerns a rookie cop and a small number of people trapped in a soon to be closed police station, and forced to fight off a massive gang of criminals out to wage war and get revenge. That's pretty much it.

Despite the low budget, the film has some decent performances, a catchy score, some humor, and (probably best of all) a tremendous sense of mood, atmosphere, tension, and suspense. This is a gritty and gripping little yarn, and you really start to feel for the characters and want them to come out on top. Plus, this movie has some major balls thanks to the infamous "ice cream scene", and it still has the power to unsettle and shock due to how cold-blooded it is.

A remake came out a few years ago, and, while that one had it's moments, it didn't have the same charm or low-budget indie brilliance of this one. Stick to this one.

cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

½

In his heyday, John Carpenter was the master of cinematic suspense and this story of urban violence was one of his best. A deserted police station is laid siege to by a fanatical gang out for blood when one of their number is killed by a man hysterical with grief when they casually murder his young daughter. In fact there isn't much more to the plot than that; this film is all about attitude and atmosphere. There are loads of great one liners, particularly from Darwin Joston as the laconic anti-hero who joins forces with his captors, and the characters are all very memorable. Laurie Zimmer, despite the virtually complete absence of romance in the situation has a sultry charisma that reminded me of a young Lauren Bacall and the plot has a very strong message; namely that violence begets violence. It's also very obvious that Carpenter was not the biggest fan of the LAPD when you consider that the whole incident is sparked by a combination of the fact that six gang members are callously gunned down in cold blood by faceless police officers, and the fact that the grief stricken father was only in that certain place at that time because he had little or no trust in the police. A fine example of economical and suspenseful storytelling with no unnecessarily overblown set pieces or frills that is far better than the (admittedly decent) remake.

garyX
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

Assault on Precinct 13 Quotes

– Submitted by Forrest P (2 years ago)
– Submitted by James F (3 years ago)

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