Ethan Hawke, Laurence Fishburne, Gabriel Byrne, Maria Bello, Drea de Matteo, Ja Rule, John Leguizamo and Brian Dennehy

Jean-François Richet

Running Time:
109 mins

Out to buy on DVD 10/05/05 (Region 1 - US)

"We are on pause"

Marion Bishop

New Years Eve and Detroit Police station, Precinct 13 is about to close as snowstorms envelop the city. Sergeant Jake Roenick (Hawke), retiring officer Jasper O'Shea (Dennehy) and secretary Iris Ferry (de Matteo) are the only people on duty when despatch informs them that a prison transport has been routed to the precinct because the roads are becoming more treacherous as the storm takes a firmer grip. On that transport happens to be Detroit's most notorious criminal Marion Bishop (Fishburne) and as he is placed in the cells of Precinct 13, assault teams surround the station determined to get inside but are they here to rescue Bishop or take him out.

As Hollywood struggles for ideas, the remake bandwagon continues with a new version of John Carpenter's low budget cult classic but can this actually improve on the 1976 original?

While it might not be as gritty or gruesome as the original, this is a remake that is still a good movie in its own right. This is all due to old school, realistic violence of the film. With no slow motion, fancy camera tricks, wire fighting or computer graphics, this feels like an old-fashioned action flick that would have gone down well in the 70s and early 80s. The action is bloody, with stabbings, bullets to the head and executions and while they might not be a gratuitous as they might have been in the 70s and 80s, this is still a lot more gory than the current batch new millennium action movies.

The story is basic but it is the characters that draw you in. The coming together of criminals and police officers to fight for their lives is a great premise and a boiling pot for friction and mistrust. They have to trust each other to stay alive but there is always the feeling that when the opportunity arises, the criminals will stab their captors in the back and this adds to the tension. The performances from an excellent ensemble cast only increase the tension and realism of the piece. Ethan Hawke doesn't really make bad movies and his performance as guilt ridden Sergeant Jake Roenick is another fine one by the accomplished actor. This part could have been so easily over the top in the hands of a lesser actor but Hawke makes the character believeable and easy to connect with. Laurence Fishburne is another great actor who brings a real menace to Marion Bishop. This is a character that is both intriguing and deadly, a clever, calculated psychopath who you would be a fool to trust. Fishburne excels in roles like this and this character is no different. Gabriel Byrne is just as sinister as Marcus Duvall, the man who wants to get inside Precinct 13. This is a role that Byrne can play in his sleep but he still makes him memorable.

The supporting cast is also good. Maria Bello plays therapist Alex Sabian who becomes panic stricken as the mayhem breaks out. Drea de Matteo is her usual sassy self with another memorable role. John Leguizamo is suitable creepy as drug addict Beck and it is good to see Brian Dennehy return to mainstream cinema.

The remake of 'Assault on Precinct 13' might not have the same impact as the original but this is still an entertaining action flick. With good characters backed up by excellent performances, this is an old school action movie that will grip you from the start and not let go until the explosive finale.


Armed and Dangerous (4.52 mins)
'Assault on Precinct 13' weapons specialist Charles Taylor takes you into his 'gun truck' to show you some of the guns used on the movie. We see the guns that the different members of the cast received and the tactical machine guns used by the commando making the assault.

Behind the Precinct Walls (7.26 mins)
Production designer Paul Austerberry takes you behind the scenes of the precinct, sewer tunnel, prison cell and evidence room sets designed for 'Assault on Precinct 13'. He talks about the design process for sets showcasing development and the 3D computer models used to map the scenes out.

Plan of Attack (4.24 mins)
Stunt Coordinator Steve Lucescu talks about making the action sequences in 'Assault on Precinct 13' as realistic as possible. Showing you the gun fights, car crashes and fire burns, the featurette takes you behind the scenes of the actor's training and how they participated in many of the stunts.

The Assault Team (5.14 mins)
Director Jean-Francois Richet, producer Jeffrey Silver and screenwriter James Demonaco talk about remaking the John Carpenter classic. They discuss bringing realism to the film and not filling it with over the top 'Hollywood' action that has plagued many an action film in the past.

Deleted Scenes (6.08 mins)
These five deleted scenes show more of the prisoners in their cells, more character interaction, the group trying to contain the situation and more of Marcus Duvall and his commando team. Some of these scenes are very good but without an introduction or commentary track, we don't know why they were removed.

Caught in the Crosshairs: Behind the Scenes of Precinct 13 (12.32 mins)
Director Jean-Francois Richet, producer Jeffrey Silver, screenwriter James Demonaco and stars Ethan Hawk, Lawrence Fishburn, Maria Bello, Drea de Matteo, Ja Rule, John Leguizamo, Aisha Hinds and Brian Dennehy take you behind the scenes of the remake of 'Assault on Precinct 13'. The filmmakers and the stars talk about the preperation and training that went into the film and they talk about the characters, storyline and setting of the film, emphasising the realism of the piece.


By concentrating on the more technical aspects of the production, the bonus features on this DVD release are a lot more interesting that the usual cast interviews and pats on the back as the actors and filmmakers effuse on how good the movie is and what a pleasure it was to work with everyone. This makes for a lot more interesting viewing and some good featurettes. The exclusion of a commentary track is a bit poor however, but the other bonus features do slightly make up for this, making fans quite happy with the release.


Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

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