Back in the day when video was king and cinemas were potential development sites for new supermarkets and bingo halls the law was lax, and as an impressionable young child with neighbours who had a video store I got to see some great edgy films. My Dad got a Grundig Video2000 system and one of the first tapes I watched on it was Assault on Precinct 13. I loved it, it had the sense of timing and pace of a Sergio Leone western as the different strands of the plot coalesced into the main story, it shot violence like Sam Peckinpah, it had a black man playing an authority figure and it had great leanly written dialogue like Hemingway.
I was greatly concerned when I saw the posters for the ‘new’ Assault on Precinct 13. Thing did not start well, unlike SWAT which updated the theme tune from the original series, Assault has some of the lamest rap tunes that I have had the displeasure to hear in a long time: KRS1 quit clownin’ and shoot yo’self dawg – if I had a horse that lame as the production and rhymes on his contribution, I would have put it down 12 months before hand. John Carpenter’s score was borrowed for a number of electro tracks like Bomb the Bass’ Megablast and is a classic in its own terms.
The film deviates in many important ways, I’m guessing to make the story credible in a time of mobile phones, pagers, instant messaging and the internet. It could have done without being called a remake, however it is a cracking film in its own right which I would heartily recommend, being an assault on the senses like the SWAT team scenes in Leon. Get out, watch this film, just don’t expect a remake of John Carpenter’s meisterwerk. Lawrence Fishburne acts everyone else off stage and is smoother than a silk cod piece, Ja Rule makes a play for Flavor Flav’s crown as the schizophrenic clown prince of hippty-hop muzik, John Leguizamo does a really good job of playing a baghead and Drea de Matteo is so good at playing an oversexed receptionist you could catch something just watching her on screen – Jennifer Lopez take notes – this is what a siren looks like.