The Warriors

"Excellent"

The Warriors Review


There are certain films that by some unforeseen circumstance tap into a generation, a culture, a time, perfectly. The Warriors is just such a film. It is by no means a perfect movie. It is well crafted and dramatic, but what moves it beyond cult adoration and fanboy drooling is its epic storyline and intensely rendered narrative.

The Warriors isn't really a movie about a gang trying to get home. It's an archetypal tale of survival, of revenge, of power and corruption and the human spirit. Sounds like a load of over-educated/under-paid horseshit, I admit. But The Warriors really does have that kind of power.

The plot is elegantly simple: nine members of a New York street gang (circa 1979) must get back home to Coney Island while every gang in the city (a force some 60,000 members strong) is hunting for them. The gangs that inhabit the desolate, sleeping city are a motley crew of outrageous fashions and bizarre handles. We've got the Baseball Furies, sporting Yankee-like uniforms and baseball bats; the Turnbull A.C.'s, quasi-skinheads in green buses; The Lizzies, an all female gang and my favorite; the High Hats, dressed like mimes with top hats. (Rumor has it Hill originally intended the film to take place in the near future and some of the gangs sure look it.)

Our protagonists, the eponymous Warriors, are a rag tag bunch fronted by Swan (Michael Beck), a cool headed fighter. We have Ajax (James Remar), the wild child given to bouts of extreme violence and an insatiable lust, cautious Fox (Thomas Waites), cheeky Cowboy (Tom Mckitterick), edgy Vermin (Terry Michos), music-man Snowball (Brian Tyler), tagger Rembrandt (Marcelino Sanchez), former war-chief Cleon (Dorsey Wright), fighter Cochise (David Harris), and tagalong Mercy (Deborah van Valkenburgh). One look at this ragtag bunch and it becomes clear that writer/director Walter Hill is playing with genres and mythic characters.

The plot of The Warriors is loosely based on a novel by Sol Yurick, which itself is based on Xenophon's Anabasis, the story of Greek mercenaries march to Persia to take the throne and the march back. What really resonates, despite the many differences between the source novel, the classical Greek text and the film, is the heroic-mythic quality of the characters. While none of them are particularly likeable - all are hardened gangsters or scummy punks -- they are trapped in a nightmarish world of violence and battle, and their reactions, the humanity that shows through, is something that resounds on a subconscious level.

Many film critics derided The Warriors upon its release for its brutality and what they saw as a glorification of gang violence. There were several incidents of violence linked indirectly with the film, but it was enough that watchdog groups pounced on the picture. As with many well-meaning acts of censorship, the protests against the film actually drove more people to see it.

The Warriors will perhaps be best remembered for several unforgettable lines, in particular the classic: "Cannnnn yooouuuuuu diiiigggg iiittttt?," best shouted to hordes of over-sexed, testosterone addled youngsters. The Warriors is a film unlike any other, an amalgamation of classic hero mythology, hoodlumism, hip '70s kicks, and youthful exuberance. It is a film of raw power and arty excess, a perfect gem of counter-culture "new" mythology in which the collective power of unrefined youth overcomes the corrupting influence of uniformity.

The special edition DVD (featuring a new cut from Hill) has several deleted scenes, a commentary track by Hill, and a number of insightful short documentaries and trailers.

Come out and play, guys.



Facts and Figures

Genre: Action/Adventure

Run time: 92 mins

In Theaters: Friday 9th February 1979

Box Office Worldwide: $22.5M

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: Paramount Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Fresh: 31 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Ajax, as Swan, David Patrick Kelly as Luther, as Cleon, as Cochise, as Mercy, as Snow, as Baseball Fury

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