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Sleeping Dogs
Coup d'État

New Zealand 1977
produced by
Roger Donaldson for Aardvark Films
directed by Roger Donaldson
starring Sam Neill, Nevan Rowe, Ian Mune, Warren Oates, Ian Watkin, Clyde Scott, Donna Akersten, William Johnson, Don Selwyn, Davina Whitehouse, Melissa Donaldson, Dougal Stevenson, Bernard Kearns, Raf Irving, Tommy Tinirau, Dorothy McKegg, Roger Oakley, Bernard Moody, Laurie Dee, Ron Cameron, Rod Collison, Ken Smith, Richard Moss, Norman Fawsey, Peter Rowell, Chris Parkinson, Bill Juliff, Pat Hoff, Tom Binns, Les Hunt, Shirley Duke, Cass Donaldson
screenplay by Ian Mune, Arthur Baysting, based on the novelSmith's Dream by Christian K. Stead, music by Mathew Brown, David Calder, Murray Grindlay

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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With his marriage to Gloria (Nevan Rowe) on the brink of breaking up, all Smith (Sam Neill) wanted was a little bit of peace and quiet - and since the country's in turmoil, he decides to spend some time on a lonely island ... to suddenly be accused of terrorism, arrested and about to be sentenced to death - when he manages to make a daring escape. Somehow he ends up at a lonely motel in the middle of nowhere where he doesn't only find a job but also a lover (Donna Akersten), and since there are no guests pretty much by definition, he seems to finally have found his peace and quiet ... but enter American troops led by Colonel Willoughby (Warren Oates) who have come to support the local gouvernment who make the whole place into a mess, just by staying there. And Smith not only detests them, he also fears he might be exposed as the runaway "terrorist" he never was - and thus enter Bullen (Ian Mune), an actual revolutionary who offers Smith a way out ... if he helps the revolution stage an attack at the motel and the Americans it hosts. The attack succeeds - but suddenly, Smith finds himself on the run with Bullen, drawn into the center of a conflict he planned to sit out ...


Sleeping Dogs is many things at once, an action movie, a political satire, and a Kafkaesque tale of absurdity - and it succeeds in all areas, basically because the film is not only very well-written, it also never tries to hammer a point home but keeps things moving, is populated by very colourful characters, and Sam Neill (in his first lead) brings just the right mix of resolution and vulnerability to the role. And that the film makes perfect use of its Australian landscapes doesn't hurt one bit either, of course.

Having been the first movie from New Zealand given general release in the USA back in the day, the film's a bit of a forgotten classic these days - but it definitely deserves all the attention it gets. Totally recommended!


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review © by Mike Haberfelner


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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD



Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...


Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!


Bauliche Angelegenheiten
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Michael Haberfelner


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