Assault on Precinct 13/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
John Carpenter is one of my all-time favorite directors. I love The Thing, They Live, Escape From New York and Halloween. What makes him distinctive from other directors is the fact that he always brings a stark realism to his work even if it's a slasher film or has the in-your-face message like They Live, an anti-capitalist film. Recently, I watched one of the most realistic action films of all time, Assault On Precinct 13.
The plot is pretty hard to explain because there are many things happening at the same time, but I'll try. The story takes place in a dystopian Los Angeles. A large number of weapons were stolen by a gang called Street Thunder and they begin killing people randomly. The film begins with six gangsters who get killed so the rest want to get revenge on the police. They kill an ice cream man and a young girl, so the girl's father takes revenge by killing one of them. Then they find out he is hiding in a nearly abandoned police station. So, a small group of police and prisoners inside has to fight against the psychotic gang with no help.
I said this is one of the most realistic action films of all time for many reasons. First, the pacing: modern audiences might be upset at how slow this film is but I think it builds a lot of tension, much more than the Michael Bay style (which is bullsh*t). Second, the location: a simple rule to make your film thrilling is it should take place in one location. Take Die Hard for example. It happened in one building and no one helps John McClane to fight the criminals until 57 minutes in. Assault On Precinct 13 uses this same tactic by letting the characters fight against TONS of gang members with no help. In fact, they can't use a telephone and all power is out at the station.
A great thing about this film is the fact that the police and prisoners are on the same side. Yes, it tells us that criminals and police could work with each other in some situations. Another aspect is the violence, it shows no mercy on the audience. There's a scene where a girl is shot right on camera! It shocks the viewer because usually when a child is killed they just show a corpse or have the body disappear, but here we can see just how brutal and violent these gangsters are.
Weapons are not a good way to stop war. It's not going to make peace, but Assault On Precinct 13 has the balls to ask us: "If you happened to be in the same situation, what would you do?".