July 24, 2021

SIEGE and That Can-Do Spirit

SIEGE (Blu-ray Review)
1982 / 84 min (Theatrical Cut) / 93 min (‘Cannes’ Cut)


Review by Fluffy the Fearless😽

Sometimes you gotta admire a movie’s can-do spirit, even when the filmmakers obviously lack the budget to fulfill their ambitions.

A Canadian production, Siege is an early film written & co-directed by Paul Donovan, who went on to earn a bit of notoriety outside his native Canada with Def-Con 4 and the sci-fi series, LEXX. Like John Carpenter’s similarly-grassroots Assault of Precinct 13, the film’s protagonists are protecting themselves against an ongoing attack by heavily-armed thugs. 

In this case, it’s a hate group calling itself the “New Order,” who decide to establish their own set of fascist rules during a citywide police strike, which includes rousting a gay bar. When they accidentally kill the owner, the leader decides the witnesses should all die. However, one of them, Chester (Daryl Haney), escapes and finds refuge in a nearby apartment building. When the half-dozen tenants - fronted by de facto leader Horatio (Tom Nardini), - refuse to turn him over, the New Order begin their attack, which comprises a majority of the narrative.

It’s a solid premise, perhaps unexpectedly timely in light of recent events. An action film about protecting the rights and safety of a gay man against a hate group is somewhat unique for its time (this was 1982). Additionally, the New Order themselves aren’t too far removed from the mobs of mouth-breathing morons proliferating the news today. Throw a MAGA hat on these ignoramuses and it’s easy to imagine them storming the Capitol building.

"Hey, I thought it was Ladies Night."
However, there’s only about five of them. Some New Order. In fact, Siege is often hampered by its overall smallness. From the get-go, it’s obvious Donovan & friends lacked even Carpenter’s meager financial resources to convincingly pull-off an action movie. Still, the film isn’t without merit. It’s conceptually simple, yet intelligently written. There are stupid characters, of course, but only because the story necessitates them, not because they’re written stupidly. After all, who wants to watch a movie featuring clever, resourceful homophobes?

So despite the pedestrian performances, low-wattage action and anemic special effects (including the sound), Siege is an interesting curio. Not entirely successful, the film is nevertheless a result of sheer determination, budget be damned. And though it’s highly doubtful anyone involved was forward-thinking enough to concern themselves with posterity, certain thematic aspects of the film remain surprisingly relevant. 


AUDIO COMMENTARY - By director Paul Donovan and filmmaker Jason Eisener (Mr. Hobo with a Shotgun himself).


LIMITED EDITION SLIPCOVER (Actually different from the box art)



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