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I was working in a movie theater when The Warriors first came out, and
remember well the flick and the hype surrounding it. Here's a few notes
to clear up some misconceptions that many other commentors seem to
The flick was NOT ever intended to be an accurate portrayal of New York gang life, although there were some realistic elements. At the time it was generally accepted that it took place in the future, although nothing in the movie supports this. At best it can be considered an urban fable that takes place in a sort-of-imaginary world. You know, like Pulp Fiction (you think 90s LA gangsters dressed like that??).
Second, the film itself was not accused of inciting violence. Problem was, it was a VERY popular film with gang members, who would show up in force. Two rival gangs would show up at the same theater, and... you can figure the rest out yourself. One guy was killed on the first weekend the movie was playing in New York; after that, the distributor hired off-duty police for security at every theater across the country that showed the flick. In the small-town Midwest where I lived, this served more as advertising hype than anything else.
Finally, it was widely known back in the day that The Warriors was based on the ancient Greek nonfiction tale Anabasis, written around 370 BC by the Spartan general Xenophon (it's also published under the title The Persian Expedition). In this classic tale, a battalion of 10,000 Spartan mercenaries join the Persian emperor Cyrus for a war in Asia Minor (i.e. Turkey). Cyrus's army is defeated, the Spartan leaders are captured, and the remaining force must make their way across country, fighting various hostile tribes along the way, experiencing their own internal power struggles, until they reach the safety of the sea. I'm shocked that only one reviewer seemed to be familiar with this; in the 70s almost nobody talked about the movie without mentioning it.
Great flick, by the way, and it holds up extremely well over time. I'm sure the remake will suck.
Walter Hill shows his directing flair again for action, drama and style in this crackling 1979 movie about a Coney Island gang falsely accused of murder and fleeing from everyone....including the other NYC gangs and the New York City Police Department. Set amongst a hostile, nocturnal world of neon lit train stations, baseball bat wielding gang members and lethal women "The Warriors" moves along at a frantic pace with a fine selection of young actors taking the lead. Michael Beck plays the cool headed, "war chief" Swan, seeking to get the other members back home to Coney Island alive and in one piece. James Remar is unforgettable as the woman chasing, hot headed Ajax...always out to prove his manhood with his fists. And David Patrick Kelly is perfect as the murderous, but ultimately cowardly leader of the Rogues. Attending a combined gangs meeting deep in the South Bronx to hear the Gramercy Riffs plans to control the streets of New York, the Warriors are wrongly accused of the shooting death of their charismatic leader, Cyrus. The finger of blame pointed their way, they flee via any means they can and upon their way back to home base encounter violent opposition from the Orphans, the Turnbull AC's, the Baseball Furies and even rifts within their own ranks lead to trouble. A colorful, exciting and fast paced film...at the time of it's original release it drew criticism for allegedly encouraging gang activity, but now seems almost cartoon like in it's displays of violence.Hands down a great film,stands the test of time. 1 million stars
Wow, I haven't been this amazed in a very long time. Where was I living all this time that not once did I hear anything about this movie. "The Warriors" is one of the best moves of the 70's and it definitely deserves more recognition than it apparently has. There isn't a single thing in this movie that disappoints, on the contrary, everything in it is brilliant. The acting, the very cool costumes, the amazing photography, the great adrenaline music, the fight sequences, the minimalistic plot, and of course the memorable one liners. From the moment it starts "The Warriors" just never loses its fast pace and we're not able to rest until the end. There are very few movies I wish would have last longer, there are even fewer that ended perfectly and "The Warriors" is one of them. If people though "Taxi Driver" was controversial they probably didn't see this movie. Cop bashing, interracial skinhead gangs, pretty girls that put out on every other corner; man, I'm not the least bit surprised that people wanted to imitate the Warriors. I felt like it today and I thought I was past that faze. All the praise to Walter Hill for helping make one of the best movies I've ever seen. The photography, that can only be surpassed by individuals the kinds of Kubrick and the shere minimalism of just about everything, even the deserted streets of New York, have never been more powerful. This is cult at its best. 9/10
Just a couple of points to add to the general accolades
Here in England the BBC have twice shown a version of The Warriors with a prologue scene, edited from the released movie but restored to a point prior to the opening 'Wonder Wheel' shot. It shows Cleon (an otherwise very underused character), sitting on the Boardwalk in the late afternoon sunshine waiting for his eight footsoldiers to show, while his girlfriend pleads with him not to go to the Bronx. When the others arrive and line up he designates their roles, including the "Swan: War chief and second in command" alluded to later in the movie. Ajax gives an early sign of his belligerent nature, voicing his disapproval with bringing a boombox-guy and a graffiti-artist: "They'll only slow us down", but seems happy to be labelled as "Heavy Muscle" along with Cochise. Much of the dialogue from this scene is re-used in the credit-sequence, with the shots of Coney and the gathering forces intercut with short interchange between Warriors. However, the prologue scene ends unforgettably with a crane-shot of the nine striding up the Boardwalk and into the distance, casting long shadows on the decking and with Cleon's girlfriend trailing in their wake. Over this, a slow sixties surf-tune booms out as the waves wash against the shore. Bloody wonderful.
Unfortunately I have never found a store-bought version which includes this material - DVD community, do you know?
Another thing I heard was that the original idea was that the movie was set "Sometime In The Near Future", but Walter Hill dropped the idea of having a caption stating as much at the start of the film. This explains some of the discrepancies with the actual New York gangland, being more about delinquent youth and 'Colours' than Organised Crime syndicates and shiny suits.
Third - a fantastic action movie full of colour, vim and attitude, but which also never fails to break my heart every time I watch it. There are a couple of scenes like this - mostly Deborah Van Valkenburgh's - but the main one is with Swan and Mercy on the Subway as the High School 'Preppies' complete with ruffled shirts and massive lapels sit down opposite, their laughter and smiles soon fading as the contrast becomes blindingly obvious to them as well as us. Walter Hill plays this scene perfectly: with no dialogue as such, and with Swan and Mercy not even looking at each other as he takes her hand from her hair and places it firmly by her side. Och, goosebumps even thinking about it!
Finally, having also read the original 'Anabasis' (I had to) when I was studying Ancient Civilisations of the Med at University, as a piece of pure drama The Warriors could shove a bat up it's ass and turn it into a Popsicle. Can You Dig It?!
The Warriors may be a camp conceptual ballet choreographer's vision of
street life, but it still rocks the bells. The names, the music, the
design, the simple story (and don't forget those jackets) are flick
knife sharp. Why don't gangs this uber kuhl exist anymore? Because they
never did, or can't you remember that, old maaaan?
On the train journey home, contrast the affluent optimism of the young couples, laughing with flowers after the big show, with the filthy, bedraggled and hopeless ghetto pride of Swan and his desperate squeeze. Only one side of the carriage looks embarrassed, and it ain't the Warriors, baby.
Makes me wanna rumble in slo-mo on roller skates.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A gang called the 'Warriors,' exhibits qualities characteristic of
classical heroes: gallantry, self-pride, loyalty, discipline, and most
of all, the ability to fight...
It is night in New York city... Nine leather-vested members of this small bunch, board a subway leaving their Coney Island turf and travel to Van Cortland Park in The Bronx...
The 'Warriors' are only one of many in New York street gangs who have sent representatives to a unification meeting called by Cyrus (Roger Hill), the lord of the largest and most powerful gang in the city, the Gramercy Riffsa black gang all in their silk pajamas and Kung Fu shirts...
Cyrus speaks to the huge gathering, explaining that all the gangs must unite, that together they outnumber the police three to one, that together they can consolidate forces and rule the city...
There is wild cheering... And suddenly, out of no where, a mean, small-minded person pulls his gun and shoots to kill...
The cowardly little guy of the Rogues quickly yells out that is was Cleon (Dorsey Wright), the Warriors' chief, who killed the legendary leader...
In the confusion, and while the police crowds into the park and the congregated gangs flee, Cleon 'get busted' by those who think he murdered Cyrus...
Without their leader, the Warriors 'got to stick together, and fight-to-survive.' They attempt to make the long hazardous journey to Coney Island hunted by every gang and cop...
Swan (Michael Beck), the cool headed 'war chief,' assumes command... Of his followers only Ajax (James Remar) gives him trouble...
Their perilous journey home is filled with considerable amount of risks as they face violent encounters with different gangs in many shapes and colors...
'The Warriors' is a film that will make most viewers cringe at times, but you'll forgive the shortcomings and praise the exciting camera-work, the excellent use of music, and the good performance of David Patrick Kelly, the best soft-spoken killer since Andy Robinson in "Dirty Harry."
The great moment in the movie is when Patrick Kelly, clicking together three soda bottles, coaxes the Warriors out of hiding by whining over and over, "Warriors, come out and play!"
"Listen boppers", this is a great gang flick that has a small crew chased down by every gang in NYC after they are wrongly accused of killing Cyrus (the local crime boss) at the Bronx Zoo. The Warriors have to make it from the Upper Bronx to Coney Island with every gang in town trying their own unique ways of knocking them off. Baseball mimes, Roller Skating posses, chick gangs, and of course, the "Riffs" do their darnedest to knock off the resilient Coney Island gang before they can make it back to their stomping ground. A local radio announcer (the woman from "Where in the World is Carmen San Deigo?") narrates their progress downtown, tipping off rivals and setting up further confrontation. A great movies for all ages.
During a gang summit in the Bronx, a rival gang leader (Roger Hill) is
shot and killed. A Coney Island gang is wrongfully accused of the crime
and find themselves on the run from other gangs and cops as they race
back to their turf. Will they make it back in one piece?
Walter Hill's ("48 Hrs.") stylish tale about gang warfare packs a punch (even by today's standards). Upon release, the film sparked controversy and was accused of encouraging gang violence. After one look, it's not brutal, graphic or unpleasant. It's an exciting, fast-paced, action-packed, non-bloody tale that sends a message with conviction. Most of the gangs portrayed are too cartoonish to be menacing, but yet they are unique in more ways than one. Credit should also be given to Andrew Laszlo's photography. A cult classic. "Can you dig it?"
My evaluation: *** out of ****.
The Warriors, headed by Swan (Michael Beck), framed for killing Cyrus,
a gang leader that would've united all of them, have to get home to
Coney Island while all the rival gangs are gunning for them in this
slightly surreal, slightly futuristic classic. All of the actors were
brilliantly casted and well acted, not the least being David Patrick
Kelly as highly memorable villain, Luther (Waahhrriioors come out to
pllllllaahhhhyyyaaaa, is all I have to say). The new Director's cut
which adds a prologue text crawl that ties it more firmly to an ancient
Greek tale, as well as comic book wipes that transitions some scenes,
may dumb it down a tad and spell it out for the audience too unsubtly,
but it does NOT diminish from the overall greatness of the movie in the
least. The superb director/ writer Walter Hill has made some all-time
classics with "48 Hrs.", "The Getaway", "the Driver", Red Heat", among
others. ALL of them much loved by me and to say that this film is hands
down the best of all is quite a compliment indeed. Followed by a video
game based on it by Rockstar that looks simply amazing and a planned
remake that will in no way even hope to be as half as good as the
original (It won't even have the great Baseball Furies, I mean, come on
My Grade: A+
Director's Cut DVD Extras: An Introduction Walter Hill; A little over an hour long documentary cut into 4 featurettes (The Beginning: From Novel To Screen, The Battleground: Casting the Warriors, The Way Home: Making The Warriors, and The Phenomenon: Releasing the Warriors); Theatrical trailer; Video Game Trailer; and Trailers for "P Diddy's Bad Boys of Comedy", "Airplane: Don't Call me Shirley Edition", "Hustle & Flow", "Macgyver", "George Lopez: Why you crying?", & "the Godfather"
I just finished watching The Warriors again and it always brings me back to that time. A time where you relied on friends and a brotherhood to keep you safe. A time where we took care of our own. I was born in Brooklyn and I remember going to the theater in Williamsburg with my older cousin to see this movie. Back then they had double features. We stayed and watched The Warriors for the second time. To me it is a simple movie of survival against all odds with no one but your brothers watching your back. Even the crime syndicate had rat's snitching on each other back then. Look at the end of the movie and see how the Rouges reacted even when faced with their destiny. They all stuck together. This is by far one of the best films of that era. And still today on DVD it is as fresh as the day it was released. I even turned my best friends wife into a fan. I truly believe this movie can reach all types of people. Kudos to the writers and producers and actors and everyone involved in this film.
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