The remake is just another cop-thriller, albeit with some good nastiness from Gabriel Byrne, but the original, certainly in this country, caused quite a stir, and made John Carpenter a name to watch. His subsequent career, despite the likes of `Halloween' and `The Thing', hasn't quite lived up to early promise, but this still remains a pretty cracking thriller.
It's a western but updated to a modern-day, (1976 anyway), L.A. ghetto. A scantily staffed police-station, on the verge of closure, is besieged by a multi-national street-gang armed to the teeth with automatic weapons. Can newly-promoted Sgt Bishop, helped only by a spunky police secretary, and a couple of lifer cons, hold out?
It's a good ride, and Carpenter gets plenty of menace out of the situation, helped no-end by his own groovy, (and cheap), synthesiser score. The acting is a little variable, but Darwin Joston, as one of the con's, is particularly good and displays a fine sardonic wit. Shame his career never really went anywhere after this; was he too small to be a leading man? Doesn't seem to have done Tom Cruise any harm...
It's fun, so long as you take it with an extremely large pinch of salt.
You'll never ask for a vanilla twist again!