I had almost forgotten this late 70′s low-budget masterpiece from Walter Hill, till it came on TV over the weekend. I remember watching this film when I was about 8 and being in total awe of the filmmaker, and watching it again 17 years after, I still salute Walter Hill.
The story begins with The Warriors, a gang from Coney Island, going to a massive gathering of the biggest gangs in New York. The gathering is headed by Cyrus (Roger Hill), leader of the Gramercy Riffs who are firmly at the head of the gang food chain.
”Can You Dig Ittttttttttttttttttttt??” (Sorry couldn’t help myself)
Luther (David Patrick Kelly), the unhinged leader of the Rogues, shoots Cyrus dead, and quickly blames the killing on the Warriors as one of The Warriors (Fox) witnessed the shooting. The police suddenly gate-crash the meeting, and in the ensuing chaos The Warriors make their immediate escape, but not before their war-chief Cleon (Dorsey Wright) is beaten to death.
The gang then has to travel all the way across the city back to their turf with hundreds of other gang members and many of the city cops after them, all in one night. One of the best parts of this narrative is that The Warriors are not aware of the hit that has been called on them via the radio personality, until a few members get attacked by a female gang.
Our protagonists, The Warriors are fronted by Swan (Michael Beck), a cool headed fighter. Ajax (James Remar) the impulsive, hot headed warrior who has a few violent outbursts and is always sexually charged, cautious and witty Fox (Thomas Waites), Cowboy (Tom Mckitterick), lovable but edgy Vermin(Terry Michos)..who has the most hilarious one liners, music-man Snowball (Brian Tyler) who also has the most knowledge of other gangs, graffiti boy Rembrandt (Marcelino Sanchez), fighter Cochise (David Harris), and lonely prostitute Mercy (Deborah van Valkenburgh).
The vivid and sharp colours and lighting of The Warriors, despite the darkness of the night, emphasizes the movie’s comics sensibilities. Then there is the Hill’s amazing use of art design, using neon and graffiti and the dingy gray of subway trains to decorate the dark scenes of the cemetery and the subways. Few films get such a deliberately intimate feel and look of a city, the kind of city that most middle-to-lower class people are familiar with…the REALISTIC kind.
When The Warriors finally make it back to Coney Island, tired and deflated and Swan seems disappointed at what he sees when he says ” Is this what we fought all night to get back to?” The Rouges are already waiting for them and cue probably one of the most memorable scenes where Luther inserts his fingers into 3 empty beer bottles and clicks them together, chanting in a scratch-the-blackboard type voice, the now infamous lines “Warr-EE-ors…. Come Out to PLAY-eee!”
The film is pants for its acting but then so is a lot of 70′s made film, Even Grease has its moments of wooden acting. If your looking for a gangster movie, this isn’t it, if your looking for a gang movie then look absolutely no farther. This movie isn’t a must see, it’s a must own! It is 100% art that was ahead of its time in a lot of different ways, it keeps you on edge and you find yourself routing for The Warriors throughout.
Director: Walter Hill
Stars: Michael Beck, James Remar, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, David Patrick Kelly, Roger Hill
Runtime: 93 mins
Enjoy the trailer
Love and Light x