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Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) - Plot Summary Poster

Plot

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Summaries

  • Police ambush and kill several gang members in Los Angeles. Gang members make a pact of blood to strike back at police, and conduct a siege on the police station which is almost abandoned and due to be closed. Staff of the closing precinct and the criminals being held there while in transit must work together to fight off the attacking gang members.

  • In Los Angeles, the street gangs unite and declare war to the police. Meanwhile, a father stops his car in a suburb and his daughter goes to an ice-cream truck to buy a vanilla ice-cream. She is murdered in cold blood by a member of one gang. The father follows the guy, kills him with many shots and runs to the Precinct 13. The policeman Bishop has just assumed the police station, which is not in operation but waiting to be closed on the next morning. With him, there are two women: the telephone operator and Leigh. A few moments before the arrival of the shocked father, a bus transporting three prisoners had stopped there and the escort policemen requested cells to lock the prisoners while waiting for a doctor for one of them that is ill. Suddenly the precinct is under siege and violent attack of street gangs.

  • An L.A. street gang declares war on a police station about to be shut down that has given refuge to a man who has witnessed a gang slaying. Because of the shutdown, the phones and electricity have been turned off, and gang members await outside with knives and guns where the precinct has been totally shut off from the outside world.

  • An unlikely partnership between a Highway Patrol Officer, two criminals and a station secretary is formed to defend a defunct Los Angeles precinct office against a siege by a bloodthirsty street gang.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • The story takes place on a Saturday day and night in Anderson, a crime-infested ghetto in South Central Los Angeles. Members of a local gang, called 'Street Thunder', have recently stolen a large number of automatic rifles and pistols. At 3:10 am, a team of heavily armed LAPD officers ambush and kill six members of the gang. In the morning, the gang's four warlords swear a blood oath of revenge, known as a "Cholo", against the police and the citizens of Los Angeles. Each man cuts his arm and bleeds in a glass bowl.

    That afternoon, Ethan Bishop (Austin Stoker) goes out for a drive. Over his CB radio, he is disappointed to learn that his first night as a CHP police lieutenant will be spent supervising the decommissioning of the Anderson precinct, aka Precinct 13.

    At 5:11 p.m., special agent Starker (Charles Cyphers) arrives at Los Cruces prison to transport three prisoners to the state in Sonora, California. The warden introduces him to the convicts: Wells (Tony Burton), a muscular African-American man; Cornell (Peter Frankland ), an ill and skinny white man; and Napoleon Wilson (Darwin Joston), a violent death row inmate, shackled to a chair. The warden knocks Wilson off the chair without provocation, then leads him outside where Wilson wraps his chains around the Warden's legs and pulls him off his feet.

    Meanwhile, Lawson and his young daughter, Kathy, drive by the Anderson precinct looking for Kathy's nanny's house. They pass the gang leaders, who screw silencers onto their automatic weapons and go out looking for people to kill.

    Later, Bishop arrives at Anderson and meets his skeleton crew: Julie (Nancy Loomis), a switchboard operator; Leigh (Laurie Zimmer), a secretary; and Chaney (Henry Brandon), an elderly police sergeant. Bishop is briefed by the departing police captain that only two shotguns are left in the precinct and he will be relieved at 4 a.m.; the precinct will close at 10 a.m.

    Meanwhile, on the prison bus, Cornell has a coughing fit so bad that Starker orders the driver to go to the nearest police precinct.

    At 6:18 p.m., Lawson stops at a phone booth to phone for directions, while Kathy runs over to an ice cream truck. The ice cream driver (Peter Bruni) is distracted by a black car that keeps circling the block. After Kathy skips away with her ice cream, the driver is pulled out of the truck by the white gang leader (Frank Doubleday). Realizing she got the wrong flavor, Kathy comes back to the truck and is shot by the gang leader, who then fatally shoots the driver. Lawson finishes his call and sees Kathy lying by the truck. Cradling Kathy's body, Lawson sees the black car drive away and the dying driver says there is a gun under the dashboard. Lawson gets the gun and drives off after the gang members.

    Meanwhile, the police bus arrives at Anderson, and a reluctant Bishop allows Starker to use the holding cells, while he calls a doctor.

    At 7:00 p.m., Lawson chases Kathy's killers until they jump out of their car and run. Lawson kills the white gang leader, then realizes he is out of bullets, and runs to Anderson precinct. Collapsing at the front desk, Lawson is so traumatized that he can only say he is being followed. Ethan Bishop puts Lawson into the Captain's office and tries to call a doctor, but the phones and the lights suddenly go dead. Bishop at first believes it is an outside power failure, but the streetlights remain on. Special agent Starker decides to leave; however, when Chaney and Bishop step outside, Chaney is shot dead. Bishop runs back inside, and rushes to the holding cells, but is too late to prevent Starker, the two prison guards and Cornell from being gunned down as they step outside. Napoleon Wilson steals Starker's keys, but Bishop makes Starker give them to him after he gets Wilson and Wells back inside and into the holding cells.

    Salvos of bullets greet Bishop as he returns to the lobby. When the firing stops, he looks outside and sees everyone is gone. Leigh explains there is no rear exit to the building, and all the surrounding buildings are abandoned. As Bishop gives her his revolver and orders her to watch the windows, the gang's three remaining leaders appear throw the glass bowl of blood at the door and then lay a white sheet with the Street Thunder emblem on the front in front of the building before walking away. Sobbing, Julie pleads with Bishop to give the gang Lawson, but he refuses.

    The shooting resumes, and Bishop hands Leigh the cell keys, ordering her to free the prisoners. As she opens the cells, a thug breaks down the outside door and shoots her in her right arm. She smashes the man in the face with the key ring and opens the cell. She releases Wells and Wilson. Now unchained, Wilson dispatches another gang member who tries to stab him, and helps Leigh fights her way back to the lobby and barricades the door.

    During the assault, gang members smash through the windows. Bishop dons a rifle while he tosses Wilson a pump-action shotgun while Wells retrieves a gun from a slain gang member. Together, Bishop, Wilson, Wells and Leigh kill or wound more then a dozen gang members attempting to force their way into the building through the windows until they withdraw. When the fighting is over, they discover Julie is dead. Bishop notices an acetylene tank and exclaims that they could have been blown to pieces.

    Looking outside, Bishop sees that all the corpses have been removed to make it seem like nothing has happened. When Wells informs them he is leaving, Bishop stands in his way and Wells pulls his gun. Leigh steps between them, telling Wells he will be gunned down if he goes outside, then notices Wells is out of bullets. A quick check shows they have only eight bullets left (three in Bishop's rifle, three in Wilson's shotgun and two in Leigh's pistol).

    At 8:18 pm, remembering that a tunnel runs from the basement to a manhole in the parking lot, Leigh explains someone could crawl out, and go for help. The two prisoners play a game to decide who goes out and Wells loses. He crawls out, hot-wires a car and drives off. When Wells stops at a phone booth, a gang member sits up in the back seat and shoots him in the head.

    Out of options, Wilson recommends they retreat to the basement as it is easier to defend when they see the gang members in the distance gathering for a final assault. As they descend the stairs, carrying the still-comatose Lawson with them, Leigh asks Wilson why he did not try to escape and Wilson replies that there are only two things a man never leaves behind, one is a helpless man, but he does not say what the second is.

    Bishop decides to make a final stand in the basement hallway; he wraps some flares around the acetylene tank, explaining that when the gang attacks, he will shoot the flares to detonate the tank. He and Wilson will use a huge metal sign to shield them from the blast.

    Meanwhile, two policemen patrolling the neighborhood call for backup when they find a dead telephone repairman hanging from a pole.

    Back at Precinct 13, the gang attacks by throwing Molotov cocktails through the windows and finally break into the building and eventually head down into the basement, but Wilson and Bishop use clubs to force them back. Leigh shoots a gang member coming in from the sewer entrance. When the hall is full, Bishop shoots the tank with his final bullet and it explodes.

    Outside the burning police station, when more police officers arrive and secure the station, the surviving gang members retreat. Venturing down into the basement, the police officers find dozens of dead and badly burned gang members strewn in the hallway, and the only survivors are Bishop, Leigh, Wilson, and the comatose Lawson. When a policeman tries to handcuff Wilson, Ethan Bishop pushes him away and says it will be a privilege if Wilson will walk out with him. The two leave the smoking basement.

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