Assault on Precinct 13

1976

Assault on Precinct 13

Critics 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.

98%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 42

80%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 24,629
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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 Nancy Loomis), a few civilians and a handful of prisoners, Bishop is unable to call for help because the phones have already been disconnected and the precinct is in a run-down, out-of-the-way neighborhood. Holding out for a rescue, he and his fellow prisoners band together to barricade themselves in and hold the bandits at bay. But as the casualties mount and the supplies run low, they must choose between a daring escape attempt, a fiery offensive, or certain death. The sophomore feature from auteur-in-the-making John Carpenter, Assault on Precinct 13 reunited the director with Douglas H. Knapp, his cinematographer on 1974's Dark Star.

Cast

Austin Stoker
as Ethan Bishop
Darwin Joston
as Napoleon Wilson
Gilbert De la Pena
as Chicano Warlord
Al Nakauchi
as Oriental Warlord
Gil Rankin
as Bus Driver
Cliff Battuello
as First Bus Guard
Horace Johnson
as Second Bus Guard
Valentine Villareal
as Chicano Tough
Peter Bruni
as Ice Cream Man
Kenny Miyamoto
as Oriental Tough
Jerry Viramontes
as Chicano Hood
Len Whitaker
as Black Hood
Kris Young
as Gang Member
Warren Bradley III
as Gang Member
Joe Woo Jr.
as Gang Member
Brent Keast
as Radio Announcer
Maynard Smith
as Police Commissioner
Randy Moore
as Gang Member
Alan Koss
as Patrolman Baxter
Frank Doubleday
as White Warlord
James Johnson
as Black Warlord
William Taylor
as Gang Member
View All

Critic Reviews for Assault on Precinct 13

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (41) | Rotten (1)

  • A film that is unrelenting, grabbing you by the scruff of your neck and dragging you through its 90-minute run time.

    April 11, 2018 | Rating: 8/10 | Full Review…
  • ...a seriously erratic early effort from an otherwise masterful filmmaker.

    March 19, 2018 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • For all the exposition dealt out in the opening half hour, it's become an almost abstract act of violence by the end, motivations long forgotten by the attackers and survival the only thought on the minds of the dwindling survivors.

    January 5, 2018 | Full Review…
  • A vital moment in the career of one of cinema's most important directors and a searingly tense thriller in its own right.

    January 16, 2017 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    April 18, 2014 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Carpenter stages the action expertly, always getting maximum impact from the moments when Precinct 13 explodes into violence.

    November 12, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Assault on Precinct 13

  • Nov 30, 2014
    Night of the Living Dead without the living deads! Assault on Precinct 13 is a clever piece of work that does not shy away from violence, shock and action. It's simple and fast paced, though looked a bit cheap in the beginning, the story developed itself rapidly with interesting characters.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Oct 21, 2013
    Man, I just love how this movie sets up it's premise like a cold and calculated chess game, always keeping you wondering who these characters are and how will the fit with the Assault itself. And when the shit hits the fan, it delivers, never forgetting why we're following these characters, giving them enough depth to make us care. Sometimes it's a bit cheesy on some dialogues, a bit stale at times and probably a bit too mean on the ice cream scene but Assault On Precinct 13 is a fantastic ride, giving a lot of depth and food for thought on an apparent simple-minded action flick.
    Francisco G Super Reviewer
  • Oct 09, 2012
    John Carpenter's "Assault on Precinct 13" has an opening half that's shocking, suspenseful, well-shot and sure to keep your eyes glued to the screen, but when it reaches the actual 'assault' in its second half, it loses all credibility and becomes cheap, predictable action fanfare, which is about as uninteresting as it sounds. Now, don't get me wrong. "Assault on Precinct 13" is a quick, enjoyable flick that has a fairly-executed premise and a strong start, but it just can't keep the momentum going. If nothing else, it's an effective time-waster.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer
  • Oct 07, 2012
    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.
    Phil H Super Reviewer

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