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Sleeping Dogs (1977)

Not Rated | | Action, Drama, Thriller | 13 July 1978 (Australia)
A New Zealand man recently estranged from his family gets unwittingly caught up in a revolution.

Director:

Roger Donaldson

Writers:

Christian K. Stead (novel) (as Karl Stead), Ian Mune (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

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

Recluse Smith (Sam Neill) is drawn into a revolutionary struggle between leftist guerillas and the New Zealand government. Implicated in a murder and framed as a revolutionary conspirator, Smith tries to avoid violence while caught between warring sides. Written by Mike Welsch <m.welsch@az05p.bull.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

New Zealand A Police State - Could It Happen Here?

Genres:

Action | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

New Zealand

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 July 1978 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Coup d'État See more »

Filming Locations:

New Zealand

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Box Office

Budget:

NZD 450,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The DVD bonus extras state that this picture was actor Sam Neill's "debut as a feature film actor". See more »

Goofs

After Bullen crashes the red car, the front left headlight is alternately damaged/undamaged in subsequent shots. See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

Featured in Cowboys of Culture (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

Hello Love, Goodbye Blues
Josie Hamilton Rika
Courtesy of EMI New Zealand
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Nearly Famous
31 January 2004 | by TamaalSee 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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