When a vicious street gang lays siege to an old precinct, a cop,
a secretary, and two criminals must join to fend them off.
Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
Written and Directed by John Carpenter
Starring Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston, Laurie Zimmer,
Martin West, Tony Burton, Charles Cyphers, Nancy Kyes
Remake of 1959's Rio Bravo
Assault on Precinct 13 is the movie that really showed the film community what newcomer John Carpenter was capable of. Thanks to this, he got hold of projects like Halloween, Escape from New York, and The Thing, but this film was the one he cut his teeth on. It's a badass, simple action flick about a cop and two criminals fighting off a persistent street gang. Every character stands out, particularly the cool as shit Napoleon Wilson (Darwin Joston), the quintessential bad guy with a heart of gold. Plus, this film did not hold back on violent subject matter, at a time where that wasn't entirely accepted in the mainstream.
After a little girl is brutally murdered, and the father retaliates by killing a member of a street gang, the gang tracks him to a defunct police precinct he went to for help. There, the detective holding down the fort, the secretaries, and two criminals in the holding cells must arm themselves and fight off the endless tirade of vicious bastards who want to kill the father, and everyone else in Precinct 13. The story is so damn smart. It gets you exactly where you need to be with zero fat on it, and you care about the characters because they're all so likable.
Assault on Precinct 13 often gets overlooked when people discuss Carpenter's impressive catalog, but I think it's easily one of his most entertaining early efforts and a badass action thriller that still holds up. It's endlessly rewatchable, and features one of his most intense film scores that is pure synthesizer goodness. Action fans don't want to miss this one.