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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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

According to the New Zealand Book Council website, the film's source novel by Christian K. Stead, "Smith's Dream, was . . . elicited by his involvement in the anti-Vietnam War protest movement. The novel brings the injustice of Vietnam home to New Zealanders by imagining how a similar war might arise here". The February-March 1978 edition of Australian "Movie News" magazine states that "Professor C.K. Stead's novel 'Smith's Dream' . . . was published in 1971 at the height of the anti-Vietnam war protests. It 'brought the war home' to New Zealanders by putting a Vietnam-type situation in a local setting". 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 Cinema of Unease: A Personal Journey by Sam Neill (1995) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Nearly Famous
31 January 2004 | by (New Zealand) – See all my reviews

As far as I'm aware, Sam Neill's first film - and what a start!

Starring a Kiwi, directed by a Kiwi and packed to the gunwales with Kiwi talent, this is definitely no Hollywood hyperbole extravaganza.Its sole concession to the 'star power' syndrome is the presence of Warren Oates ("Dillinger") as an armed subversive type (I didn't dare to use the dreaded 'T' word!).

The film is under the very capable guidance of the now-also-well-known Roger Donaldson, who was also responsible for another powerful home-grown effort, "Smash Palace". Impressionable youngsters like Peter Jackson may have seen this and decided their futures.

Like Jackson's LOTR trilogy, "Sleeping Dogs" is filmed on location in New Zealand. As such, the sets and scenery give a fair idea of life in provincial and metropolitan NZ in the mid-70's (but there's no stunning vistas of the majestic Southern Alps here, I'm afraid).

"Sleeping Dogs" is an adaptation of a story by New Zealand author C.K.Stead and pits an increasingly autocratic government of the near-future against a group of resistance fighters. Smith (Neill), very recently separated from a cheating wife, pretty much accidentally and quite reluctantly, gets involved with this group.

One scene in the movie was (and still is) something of a talking point here in NZ because it seemed, in hindsight, so chillingly prescient - life imitating art.

In the scene, a large group of protesters have clashed violently with unyielding, merciless, baton-wielding riot police; blood is flowing, injures are rife.

Some five years after the film had been released, in 1981, the then-internationally-banned Springbok rugby team from South Africa were allowed to tour here, despite clamorous local and global opposition.

New Zealand experienced the horrors and scarring of civil division. Wherever the Springboks played and also in the capital, Wellington, violence erupted. And it seemed to many of us at the time that the scenes that Donaldson had shot many years ago were now being replayed almost nightly on the news. Spooky.


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