Recluse Smith (Sam Neill) is drawn into a revolutionary struggle between guerillas and right-wingers in New Zealand. Implicated in a murder and framed as a revolutionary conspirator, Smith ... See full summary »

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(novel) (as Karl Stead), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Smith
Nevan Rowe ...
Gloria
...
Bullen
...
Col. Willoughby
Ian Watkin ...
Dudley
Clyde Scott ...
Jesperson
Donna Akersten ...
Mary
William Johnson ...
Cousins (as Bill Johnson)
Don Selwyn ...
Taupiri
Davina Whitehouse ...
Elsie
Melissa Donaldson ...
Melissa
Dougal Stevenson ...
News Reader
Bernard Kearns ...
Prime Minister
Raf Irving ...
Reporter
Tommy Tinirau ...
Old Maori Man
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Storyline

Recluse Smith (Sam Neill) is drawn into a revolutionary struggle between guerillas and right-wingers in New Zealand. Implicated in a murder and framed as a revolutionary conspirator, Smith tries to maintain an attitude of non-violence while caught between warring factions. Written by Mike Welsch <m.welsch@az05p.bull.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Action | Thriller | Drama

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

13 July 1978 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Coup d'État  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Budget:

NZD 450,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Melissa Donaldson played a character, Melissa, with the same first name as her own, whilst Cass Donaldson portrayed a character, Cass, who also had the same first name as her own. Both actors were relatives of the movie's producer-director Roger Donaldson. See more »

Goofs

An authentic assault rifle would be too heavy to "float" on the surface of the motel's swimming pool. (See the 'Trivia' section regarding the film's use of firearm replicas.) See more »

Quotes

Smith: [after discovering how he was framed as a terrorist] You bastards, you bastards.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Making of 'Sleeping Dogs' (2004) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Fascist state places Sam Neill in its crosshairs
24 April 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Sleeping Dogs" (1977) is a story set in an imaginary near-future in which New Zealand's government is declared taken over by emergency measures, civil liberties disappear, and the armed forces are used to suppress dissent domestically. In other words, an oppressive police state or fascist-type state comes into being. Sam Neill is just an ordinary guy, disinterested in politics, who has isolated himself on an island after marital trouble. He does nothing against the state but becomes its target through various circumstances and trumped up charges. He's offered a deal if he'll confess to crimes against the state, but he refuses. While being transported, he escapes. Most of the movie shows his escape movements while being pursued as a heavily-publicized wanted man.

This is an often exciting movie, filmed in natural backgrounds mostly. There's a lot of realism, for example, in the exceptionally fine pursuit sequence through wild country, while pursued by helicopters, special forces types, and jets with rockets. The film portrays the overwhelming strength of any military force when directed against its own lightly-armed and disorganized population.

Neill reluctantly finds himself allied with resistance forces; but they are weak and he stoutly maintains an independent attitude. The film's theme is very clear and prophetic concerning the tendency for law and order political forces to become heavily one-sided and extinguish civil liberties of all kinds through the blind obedience of the military means at their disposal and the passive acceptance and even warm support from many segments of the population. Neill's lone struggle to remain apart from such fights and survive to live an independent life is shown to be all but impossible.

The movie has the earmarks of a 70s movie, which is all right by me. There is a certain ruggedness here, without computers, cell phones, office buildings, and buttoned down people in expensive clothes and accouterments. Later decades produced more imitation and self-consciousness, more formulaic movies, more special effects, more sex for the sake of sex, and huge amounts of cursing. None of that is present here. In "Sleeping Dogs", when the jets let loose with rockets and the helicopters hover nearby, it's very real. Where there is sex, it ties into the story directly.

Warren Oates has a part as a gung-ho American soldier brought in to train the locals. He's ever ready to do his duty against the people he's been programmed to believe are enemies, which can be anyone who simply will not easily obey or knuckle under. This too is prophetic.

It's not a great movie. The music is sometimes pretty bad. Some sequences run too long. Sometimes it feels like a drive-in movie or exploitation fare. But it has a brute and honest strength to it, and Sam Neill is memorable in his breakthrough role.


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