Assault on Precinct 13 is a low-budget action film from horror director John Carpenter. The premise of the film is very simple: a gang takes revenge for a recent bust by assaulting a police station staffed by a skeleton crew (plus a few hangers-on). Initially it appears we aren’t supposed to sympathise with the police, as they’re shown as brutish and unsympathetic, but a shocking scene a third of the way through the film turns this on its head and suddenly we empathise with the plight of those who then become beseiged and the ‘tight corners’ nature of the film shines through.
The film hasn’t aged particularly well - it has a very 70s look and feel, which is probably why Hollywood, in its infinite wisdom, decided to remake it in 2005. However, a truly excellent synthesised score more than compensates for this and good quality action camera work, together with no-nonsense tight editing, make for a robust film, even if not a glossy one.
Assault on Precinct 13 has a moody feel to it, which is unsurprising given Carpenter’s general predisposition towards horror and the fact that he wrote, directed, produced, and scored it. Some scenes reminded me of other similarly dark action films such as The Running Man.
It’s a worthy film, not particularly challenging, but strong in the areas where it needs to be.