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DVD Review: ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13

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PHOTOGRAPHY

ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (2005)

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 109 minutes, audio commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes

STUDIO: Rogue Pictures/Universal

RELEASE DATE: 5-10-2005

ANALYSIS: Years ago, I was really up to the challenge of watching almost every movie that director John Carpenter directed. During one visit to a video store, I rented ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, a low budget movie that Carpenter directed before Halloween. His Western homage was an entertaining movie as a police station, Precinct 13, was about to be closed was put under siege by a gang of criminals. Now almost 30 years later, Rogue Pictures has released a remake that has upped the stakes by making corrupt cops the criminals and setting it during blizzard conditions on New Year's Eve.

In this remake, the sergeant (Ethan Hawke) responsible for closing down Precinct 13 has his own demons since he blames himself for the team of two team members during an undercover drug sting. He has a beautiful police shrink (Maria Bello) who hounds him as there is a little sexual chemistry between the two. The sergeant gets a job he doesn't want on New Year's Eve. Precinct 13 plays host to a busload of prisoners (including gangster Bishop (Laurence Fishburne) for the night when the storm forces the prison bus to find a place to house the prisoners for the night. Other than the dangerous Bishop, the group of prisoners are a group of misfits. Cops and prisoners must soon team together to survive as a group of corrupt cops want to eliminate Bishop before he blows the whistle on their dealings with him. The corrupt cops are lead by Marcus Duvall (Gabriel Byrne) and he is trying to make sure no one survives because to him it is a simple problem of mathematics (33 lives versus the 8 lives in the station).

Once the action starts, ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 doesn't stop as the action is pulse pounding. The characters are carried by fine performances by the actors who play them. Hawke, Fishburne, and Drea DeMatteo give the strongest performances while Brain Dennehy provides his usual working man's acting. The direction is good while the script does a fantastic job of remaking John Carpenter's original film while adding many new elements. Any good remake has to stand on it's own and be different enough to make it worthwhile. ASSUALT ON PRECINCT 13 succeeds as a good remake.

VIDEO/AUDIO: ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 is presented in 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. Colors, image detail, and blacks are good. I have no complaints about this transfer.

You can hear the movie in English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 DD, or English 5.1 DTS with the option of English captions, French subtitles, or Spanish subtitles. Most of the special features except the audio commentaries have the option of English captions, French subtitles, or Spanish subs. Dialogue is clear. Sound effects and music rise to the challenge.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The audio commentary (with Director Jean-Francios Richet, Writer, James DeMonaco, and Producer Jeffrey Silver) does have some interesting production info, but the three of them watch the movie too much instead of doing a commentary.

The disc has five featurettes that amount to lots of clips from the movie, lots of interview footage, and a little behind-the-scenes footage. CAUGHT IN THE CROSSHAIRS is 12 1/2 minutes of harmless promotional fluff. ARMED AND DANGEROUS has the weapons specialist talk about the weapons he picked for each character while BEHIND PRECINCT WALLS has the production designer give a tour of the Precinct 13 sets and talk about the details in the sets. PLAN OF ATTACK is with the stunt coordinator as he makes the point that the audience likes to see more of the actor in an action sequence these days. THE ASSUALT TEAM focuses on the director, writer, and producer of the remake. Rounding out the extras are five deleted scenes (with optional commentary by the director). The scenes are time coded and the director mentions the last two deleted scenes he hated to cut (even though one of them was his favorite scene).

FINAL ANALYSIS: Despite lackluster extras, the ASSUALT ON PRECINCT 13 DVD is at least worth a rental because it is an entertaining remake.

this DVD Review is (c)5-13-2005 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com and look for additional content at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia