Flashback Movie Friday: The Warriors (1979)

The Warriors is one of those movies I have been watching since I was too young to really understand what it was actually about. I remember it fondly for the opening scene with the Ferris Wheel that had the ominously blinking lights, one of which was broken, as well as for the way the camera pans across Coney Island, which is of course far more glamorous in the dark than in the cold light of day. Also etched into my memory is the extreme violence, the deceptive gang of women who try and stop The Warriors as they ‘bop’ their way back to Coney and of course, the Baseball Furies and their immaculate face paint. Atmospherically I have always found this to be a great film.

Here’s the vintage trailer:

Can you dig it?

The plot is simple – there’s a big gang meet up in New York City. All the gangs in the area are going to be there. The leader of the biggest gang (Cyrus) has something important to tell everyone. No one is supposed to be bringing weapons. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is one gang that breaks that rule and Cyrus gets a bullet. Unfortunately The Warriors get the blame for the shooting and thus, have no choice but to try and get back to Coney Island (sans weapons) without running into any other gangs. This task is further complicated by the fact that every gang in the city is looking for them.

This film is gritty, it’s violent and it has a great and wonderful soundtrack. Sometimes films date poorly, but this really isn’t one of them. None of the cast is incredibly well known (although there are some vaguely familiar faces), which helps to keep it feeling young. I’m also a big fan of the camera techniques that have been used in the opening sequences when all the gangs are introduced and when The Warriors are on the train, not to mention the final scenes, after the remaining members make it home to Coney Island. It certainly is a different place when the sun comes up.

Not too long ago, The Warriors got a make-over for its re-release on blue ray and DVD. As part of that process the director spliced comic book strips into the old cut of the film, giving it a far more comic book look than the original and yet one that seems more in line with the tone of the novel on which the film is based. There’s also a game version apparently, but I’m not a gamer, so I can’t speak to it. There are a number of old school fans that aren’t fussed on this new version. Personally, I don’t mind it and, if you’re looking at the film for the first time, I would probably recommend going with the newer cut. For all you purists out there that might be revisiting it, I know, it is a hard change to swallow, but all things considered, I think it turned out quite well.

Recently there were also a slew of articles which revisited the film, looking at the themes it portrayed the cutting edge way it was made and revisiting the lives of the actors who starred in some of the most influential roles. I really enjoyed this one: http://www.villagevoice.com/news/remember-the-warriors-behind-the-chaotic-drug-fueled-and-often-terrifying-making-of-a-cult-classic-7607043  which was interesting for the revelations it gave about the character of Fox. Growing up I always thought it was unfair that he got pushed over that train (curse you, Mercy!), but reading the revelations of the director so many years later, that directorial choice makes a lot more sense and I respect why the decision was made. Finding out that Swan retired from the glitz of Hollywood to become a hard-core Christian was also interesting. As a little lass, he was always my favourite. If it hadn’t been for that damn Mercy, we totally would have gotten married.. or at the very least I would have been his smokin’ hot old lady.

mercy
You know what that is, don’t you? Yep. Trouble.

Side bar: some of you might not be familiar with the film as such, but will be familiar with this D12 video, which uses the Warriors as its inspiration and features the always entertaining Ice T in the Cyrus role:

Otherwise, you might be familiar with this dude and his glass bottles…

the-warriors-luther
Warriors… come out to pllaaayyyy

Anyway, if you have never seen or heard of this film, I would heartily recommend giving it a little looky-look… There’s a lot of valuable life lessons to be learnt, such as how to effectively use a molitov cocktail; how to parlay (right now); how to throw a baton; how to outrun a school bus full of angry gang members; how to make weapons from what is on hand and of course, never,ever trust a gang of hot women.

If you’re a reader, this is based on a novel by Sol Yurik. I have attempted to give it a go, but feel it’s something I probably need to go back and devote more time. As for the game… that will never happen because I can’t imagine a time in my life when I’ll believe in gaming.

 

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