The Warriors

Dir: Walter Hill, 1979


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Walter Hill’s adaptation of Sol Yurick’s novel is a grand spectacle of action and is a million miles better than the source that it’s derived from.

Where Yurick’s novel was a drama and dealt with issues such as race and violence, Hill’s version is pure comic entertainment.

America is overruled with gangs.

Cyrus (Roger Hill) is the leader of the strongest and most powerful gang in New York, The Gramercy Riffs.

He holds a meeting and requests all the gangs from the surrounding cities to attend, and they must come unarmed.

However, one of the gangs, The Rogues, led by Luther (David Patrick Kelly), ignores this order and brings a gun to the meeting.While Cyrus is preaching

While Cyrus is preaching, Luther shoots him, killing him instantly.

A member of The Warriors, Fox (Thomas G. Waites) sees the murder so Luther puts the word out that it was The Warriors who did it.

Angry by the shooting, The Riffs order every gang from New York to Coney Island to get The Warriors.

Wanted, the gang have to fight their way across the cities to their own turf in Coney Island.

The action sequences are just simply superb and Bobbie Mannix’s costumes are a standout.

Everything about this film is cool.

The other gangs have awesome names and outfits. You’ve got the Baseball Furies, The Turnbull AC’s, The Hi-Hat’s (who are mimes), The Moonrunners and countless more.

Hill’s film deviates wildly from its source. There’s more to the novel than the film would make you think.

Yurick’s novel is about masculinity and maturity. The gang are still in school. And they’re not called The Warriors. They’re called The Coney Island Dominators.

A big part of it is about belonging and comradeship. You could look at it as a rites of passage story.

The film does away with all that and concentrates purely on the action which is a very wise move.

To be honest, the book’s dull and quite boring. It just didn’t grab me.

This, however, is something else.

Feelings of comradeship and belonging aren’t present, here. You get the impression that several of them don’t even like each other.

Ajax (James Remar) is the hothead of the gang and believes in talking with his fists. He has no concept of diplomacy or tact and thinks he should be Warchief over the newly appointed Swan (Michael Beck).

Constantly antagonising the group, the group seem unfazed when he is arrested and make no effort to aid in his escape.

The synthesizer score by Barry De Vorzon is enormously catchy and grabs the feel of the film right from the opening credits.

Walter Hill uses his locations to their maximum potential. The subways and Coney Island fairground convey a sense of dread for the gang and that culture in general.

It’s just a really fun film with amazing choreographed fight scenes and a knowing that none of it should be taken seriously.

This is where Hill prospers.

He was a producer on Commando and directed Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy in 1982’s 48 Hrs. which also featured several of The Warriors cast. David Patrick Kelly was also in Commando.

Looking at his early body of work, the comic book type action film is his forte. It’s a shame that he very rarely directs, now. I still hold out for something new.

A brilliant double bill with Commando, it’s perfect Saturday night fodder.

Oh, and Warriors?…Come out to play-ay!



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