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To commemorate the release of the forthcoming remake, John Carpenter’s original masterpiece has at long last received the digital treatment. Was the wait worth it and, perhaps most important of all, can this release hold up to all of the hype that has built for years in anticipation for this DVD? Read on to find out.

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Film
After the brutal murdering of an innocent young girl, the deadly gang, Street Thunder, find their leader dead after the girl’s father killed him in a vengeful rage. When the father later finds comfort in a gritty police station it becomes apparent that the gang have traced his steps and they proceed to assault the precinct in a bloodthirsty act of revenge. Moreover, the cops and inmates have to stand in unison against the violence that has overrun their lives.

This film is just pure classic Carpenter. Is it one of his best works—hell yeah! Be it the moderated script or the tight action sequences, almost everything here suggests cult classic status. Of course the acting can be a bit over dramatic at times, and the death scenes are the usual affair, but still, the old saying ‘they don’t make ‘em like they used to’ rings very true with Assault on Precinct 13.

Buy it for the nostalgia, or if you have to, buy it just to boast to your friends that you collect cult classics. But whatever the excuse, this film absolutely belongs in your collection, of that there is no doubt. I only wish John Carpenter would return to his roots; roots that can be found right here in Assault on Precinct 13.

Video
We can always rely on the master of horror to give us some wide and glorious imagery, and Carpenter has predictably delivered. Shot in his usual aspect of 2.35:1, Assault on Precinct 13 looks pretty good all things considered. Grain does plague the transfer, but it adds to this gritty, grimy world Carpenter has crafted. Other than that, the image is pretty sharp and about as colourful as it should be. However, for a film that purports to be ‘Digitally Restored and Re-mastered’ there doesn’t look to be much evidence of a mass cleanup job taking place.

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Audio
The included Dolby track for Assault on Precinct 13 is nothing other than decent. Dialogue is sometimes a tad muffled and the soundtrack often comes across like it’s a bit chocked up, but overall it seems to do the job well enough. Directional effects are present only occasionally, and there is an almost total lack of LFE. In all, this sound experience is probably fitting for a film as old as this one, but there was plenty of room for improvement here.

Extras
So, what of the special features on this disc? Ah yes, a disc with practically nothing to show for itself. As my eyes roll backwards into my sockets, I sit here contemplating as to why next to no features were offloaded onto this release, but still, it should probably take me all of five seconds to tell you what this disc has to offer so lets get cracking.

Let’s see, it has a rather dull ‘commemorative brochure’ inside the casing, which aside from giving you a bit of back-story on the film serves no constructive purpose. The ‘Stills Gallery’ is pretty self explanatory and once again offers nothing of interest. What we are left with are some trailers. I think I smell a Special-Special edition release approaching…

Overall
Assault on Precinct 13 is a great film that you should most certainly check out. If you are into B-Movies or just violent 70s cop flicks, then you will find much to like about this film. As for the remake which seemingly hasn’t been met with much praise and success, you may well want to skip a cinema trip and give this classic original a thorough inspection instead.

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From a DVD perspective, this release is pretty lame. Though the image transfer and the audio soundtrack are good enough, the big let down is the bonus features—or lack of, should I say. Still, if you have a real craving for this film, I would still encourage a purchase, after all, it is cheaper than a regular release which certainly bodes well in my books.


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