Action / Drama / Thriller
Action / Drama / Thriller
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.
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June 25, 2018 at 11:34 PM
Solid if not spectacular
Based on the novel Smith's Dream by academic C. K. Stead, Sleeping Dogs is set in a totalitarian New Zealand. Smith moves to the country to escape trouble but is framed by the state as a terrorist.The rest of the film involves his attempts to avoid arrest and his eventual fate.
Released in 1977, the film possessed a poignancy for New Zealanders, who at the time viewed the then Muldoon National Government with some suspicion. A scene involving riot police in an Auckland street was a chilling portent of events during the 1981 Springbok rugby tour to New Zealand, and indeed on its release in the USA, some Americans confused the film's images with media reports of the tour protests.
Notable for Sam Neill's role as Smith, the movie started a late 1970s revival in the New Zealand film industry, including movies such as The Scarecrow, Skin Deep, and Smash Palace.
Good Springboard for Director and Actor
This film is a chilling view of how New Zealand could be if ruled by a totalitarian oppressive Government, like so many other countries around the world. It focuses primarily on one character named Smith (played by the now famous Sam Neil). The direction is excellect thanks to the talents of Roger Donaldson (Dantes Peak). But if you read those names and expect a big budget, action-packed, thriller your out of luck, it was made back in 1977 when they were starving artists. This may not appeal to those unfamiliar with New Zealand, but its worth a look if you like well scripted well acted emotional movies
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Welcome to Fascist New Zealand - or America?
'Sleeping Dogs' was the first major New Zealand feature film to find a wider audience.
Featuring a young Sam Neill as a loner caught up by accident in the fight between a Fascist government taking control and those resisting the loss of freedom.
The film is directed by Roger Donaldson (whose main stream movies include 'World's Fastest Indian','Dante's Peak' and 'Species') and is based on the excellent book 'Smith's Dream' by C.K.Stead.
It features Warren Oates (US) and Ian Mune (who co-wrote the screenplay) as well as a cast of other New Zealand regulars.
While action packed the human drama behind the movie is also of interest and the DVD (a double with 'Smash Palace') features an excellent making of documentary highlighting the issues of making a movie in New Zealand in the mid-1970's.
This is an excellent movie which realistically portrays a nation accepting the gradual loss of freedom for all the right reasons - which seems very topical even today.
The story will grip you and the end will... well see it for yourself!