Assault on Precinct 13 (2005)

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Released 25-Jul-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Filmmakers'
Featurette-Armed And Dangerous
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Behind Precinct Walls
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Plan Of Attack
Featurette-The Assault Team
Deleted Scenes-With Optional Director's Commentary
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-HBO First Look: Caught In The Crosshairs
Trailer-Friday Night Lights, Miami Vice-Series 1
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 104:17 (Case: 109)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (61:15) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jean-François Richet
Studio
Distributor
Rogue Pictures
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Ja Rule
Maria Bello
Peter Bryant
Gabriel Byrne
Fulvio Cecere
Kim Coates
Matt Craven
Courtney Cunningham
Drea de Matteo
Brian Dennehy
Hugh Dillon
Laurence Fishburne
Tig Fong
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Graeme Revell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Spanish
English Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Assault on Precinct 13 is the gripping and exciting remake of John Carpenter's low-budget 1970s siege thriller.

    In some ways, Assault on Precinct 13 seems to cleverly pick up the story of Training Day some years later. Guilt-ridden former undercover narc Jake Roenick (Ethan Hawke) has been reduced to a disillusioned desk sergeant in charge of a dilapidated, inner-city Detroit police precinct that's about to be abandoned in the new year.

    It's New Year's Eve, and Roenick is manning the precinct with a skeleton staff consisting of saucy receptionist Iris (Drea de Matteo), and soon-to-retire grumpy police veteran Jasper (Brian Dennehy).

    However, a howling snow storm paralyses Detroit, and a prison bus is diverted to the station for the night. Its handful of prison detainees includes recently arrested organized crime kingpin Bishop (Laurence Fishburne).

    Isolated by the blizzard, and cut off from communication with the outside world, the precinct is soon encircled by well-armed hostile forces. The burned-out Roenick will have to dig deep for his long-lost heroism and pride to hold the fort until dawn.

    This remake makes a number of changes to the original 1970s film, and for once all the changes are for the better. The story is now far more grounded in a gritty reality, and the isolated, snowbound setting and new set of motivations for the characters have vastly improved the story.

    Dark, disturbing, and very well paced, this Assault on Precinct 13 honours Carpenter's style and sense of isolationism, not in copying his original Assault on Precinct 13 (reviewed here), but rather in its homage to Carpenter's The Thing.

    In the lead role, Hawke looks sickly and thinly drawn, and he's very believable. Meanwhile, Fishburne's softly spoken gangster provides a lot of power and menace with the slightest gesture or glance. There are also a decent collection of actors in the supporting roles, including Gabriel Byrne and Brian Dennehy.

    French director Jean-Francois Richet does an excellent job of keeping the suspense taut and action relentless while adding some depth to the story and characters.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Overall the transfer is excellent, and looked great both with a projector and on my widescreen television.

    The widescreen transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, 16x9 Enhanced.

    The sharpness is excellent, as can be seen with the detailed church interior at 9:39. The black level and shadow detail are also excellent. For example consider the dimly lit scene inside the gaol cell at 23:25.

    The original photography is great, with extensive use of coloured lens to achieve images of cold, bleakness, or warmth. The colour is excellent throughout, and well saturated. The skin tones are accurate.

    While there are a few excessively grainy segments, where I assume a different film stock has been used, there are no problems with MPEG, film-to-video, or film artefacts.

    English, Spanish, English Audio Commentary, and Spanish Audio Commentary subtitles are present. The English subtitles are accurate.

    This is a single-sided, dual-layered disc, with the layer change occurring at 61:15. The change was not disruptive.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three audio options on this DVD: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s), and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). Sadly, the dts audio available on the R1 and R2 (UK) DVDs is not provided on the R4 release.

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent on the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.

    The musical score is credited to Graeme Revell and it is suitably dramatic, underlining the film's tension and emotion.

    The surround presence and activity are excellent, and this is a fairly aggressive and immersive sound mix. The rear speakers are used overtly in the many gun battles, such as at 3:16 and 11:45, and for more subtle ambience, such as the snow storm at 31:42. There are plenty of rear directional effects, and some panning between speakers, for example the helicopter at 80:28.

    There is a great LFE signal in support, and the subwoofer is utilised very effectively throughout, for example the deep ominous rumbles at 19:44 and 57:35.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are quite a few extras, but apart from the commentary, nothing too meaty.

Menu

    An animated menu with audio.

Audio Commentary

    Presented in Dolby Digital Stereo Surround (192Kb/s), the film's director Jean-Francois Richet, writer James DeMonaco, and producer Jeffrey Silver provide a casual but interesting screen-specific commentary.

Featurettes

Deleted Scenes-With Optional Director's Commentary (6:11)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo audio.

Featurette-Behind The Scenes-HBO First Look: Caught In The Crosshairs (12:34)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo audio, this is mainly marketing fluff, containing some interview snippets and some behind-the-scenes footage.

Theatrical Trailers

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Assault on Precinct 13 has been released on DVD in Region 1.

    The Region 4 DVD misses out on:

    The Region 1 DVD misses out on:

    The option of dts audio would make me favour the R1 over the R4. But, the R2 (UK) version also offers English dts 5.1 audio, and a superior PAL image.

Summary

    Assault on Precinct 13, grounded in isolationism, delivers the goods with relentless tension, action, and uncompromising blood, sweat, and tears.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is also excellent.

    The extras are light but entertaining.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

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