Sleeping Dogs

Out on:Blu-Ray 16th April 2018

Fast sell:

The movie that revolutionised filmmaking in New Zealand and brought about the country’s cinematic New Wave, Sleeping Dogs is a tour de force action thriller that launched the Hollywood careers of both its director and lead actor. It manages to be both nail-bitingly tense and a chilling view of New Zealand as a dictatorship and, as such, it resonated with audiences on a worldwide scale. This Blu-ray edition from Arrow Academy is a must for both fans of the film and those seeing it for the first time.

Key talent:

Roger Donaldson (No Way Out, Cocktail, Species, Dante’s Peak)

Sam Neill (Jurassic Park, Possession, Thor: Ragnarok, TV’s Peaky Blinders)
Warren Oates (Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, The Wild Bunch, Stripes)
Ian Mune (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring)


Adapted from C.K. Stead’s novel Smith’s Dream, Sleeping Dogs almost single-handedly kickstarted the New Zealand New Wave, demonstrating that homegrown feature films could resonate with both local and international audiences, and launching the big-screen careers of director Roger Donaldson (No Way Out, Species) and Sam Neill (Jurassic Park, Possession).

Neill – in his first lead role in a feature – plays Smith, a man escaping the break-up of his marriage by finding isolation on an island off the Coromandel Peninsula. As he settles into his new life, the country is experiencing its own turmoil: an oil embargo has led to martial law and civil war, into which Smith reluctantly finds himself increasingly involved.

Co-starring Warren Oates (Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia) as the commander of a US army unit drawn into the conflict, Sleeping Dogs is simultaneously a political thriller, a personal drama and a true landmark in New Zealand cinema.

We like it because:

The success of Sleeping Dogs didn’t just springboard the careers of Roger Donaldson and Sam Neill. It also allegedly convinced New Zealand politicians that a publicly funded New Zealand Film Commission should be established to assist the production of homegrown cinema.

That Film Commission is still alive and well today, funding New Zealand cinema and encouraging international film crews to use the country’s locations and facilities. When you consider just how many major motion pictures are filmed in New Zealand today (The Lord of the Rings is only the tip of the iceberg), well, that means Sleeping Dogs has quite the legacy.

And, on watching the film, it’s not hard to see why. Tightly scripted, full of tension and packed with the kind of action you simply wouldn’t expect from such a low budget production, Sleeping Dogs is a masterpiece of the action thriller genre. Sam Neill’s excellent performance as a recluse who’s unwittingly drawn into a civil war situation is, meanwhile, is a perfect example of the everyman sucked into events beyond his control. It really is a must-watch whether you’re a fan of New Zealand cinema or simply a lover of action thrillers.

Special Features:

- High Definition (Blu-ray) presentation
- Original mono audio (uncompressed LPCM) and DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtracks
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
- Commentary by writer-director Roger Donaldson, actor Sam Neill and actor-writer Ian Mune
- The Making of Sleeping Dogs (2004), a 65-minute retrospective documentary on the film’s production featuring interviews with Roger Donaldson, Sam Neill, Ian Mune, Geoff Murphy
- The Making of Sleeping Dogs (1977), a contemporary behind-the-scenes documentary featuring interviews with Donaldson and Neill
- Theatrical trailer
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips

First pressing only: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Neil Mitchell, a contemporary review by Pauline Kael and the original press book

Editor's Notes:

Region: B
Genre: Thriller
Language: English
Subtitles: English SDH
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: 1.0 mono
Discs: 1



Arrow Academy
Release date
16th April, 2018
Running time
107 mins
Cat No (BR)


Roger Donaldson
  • Sam Neill
  • Warren Oates
  • Ian Mune