mwl-warriors

The Warriors (1979)

“Warriors…Come out to Play-ay!”

Synopsis

All of the gangs of New York call a truce for one night to hear what one man has to say. 60,000 gang members, none of them armed, meet to hear a man called Cyrus. Cyrus leads a gang called The Grammercy Riffs, and has a plan for all of New York. He calls out to all the gangs and claims that if all of the gangs were to join resources, they would be unstoppable against any force. The leader of a gang called The Rogues has a different idea though, and smuggles in a gun to shoot Cyrus. During all of the panic, Luther of The Rogues yells out that it was The Warriors of Coney Island that killed Cyrus and broke the truce, leaving The Warriors a long way from home and forcing them to fight their way through every gang along the way.

Why We Love It

To be short, this movie has some of the coolest imagery ever seen on the big screen. It is almost like a sci-fi film or a comic book film, except there are no fantasy or scientific elements present. It just looks awesome. Not to mention the fact that the entire story is loosely based on one of the most bad-ass tales in Greek history. I know you are probably thinking of 300 (or the Battle of Thermopylae), but the film is actually based on a story of a group of Greek mercenaries that find themselves trapped behind Persian lines. I mean, just imagine being part of a gang with only about eight members and being up against the potential force of 60,000 other gang members. There are a ton of gangs mentioned in the movie, but you only get to see a few…and Walter Hill had some of the most awesome names in his script – The Amsterdam All-Stars, The Baseball Furies, The Big Trains, The Charlemagnes, – The Colt 45’s, The Dingos, The Electric Eliminators, The Eighth Avenue Apaches, The Fastballs, The Firetasters, The Gladiators, The Gramercy Riffs, The Howitzers, The Jesters, The Judas Bunch, The Knuckles, The Lizzies, The Meatpackers, The Nickel Steaks, The Orphans, The Panzers, The Queen’s Bridge Mutilators,  The Rogues, The Romans, The Runaways, The Shanghai Sultans, The Turnbull AC’s, The Warriors, The Whispers, The Xenophones, The Xylophones, and The Yo-Yo’s…Just to name my favorites.

So what makes this movie really stand out? It incited panic. People saw the posters, the baseball players with face paint and the trailer…and thought “holy shit, I am never going to New York.” People tried to get the movie banned because of the film’s statement that a gang of 60,000 members could easily take over the city with only 20,000 cops. It made people very afraid. I’m all for that, I say that The Warriors is probably the reason that Rudy Giuliani became the mayor of New York. He launched his political career in the early 1980s as a lawyer when he tried to eliminate, you guessed it, organized crime (aka gangs) within the city. So not only did The Warriors incite some panic, but it also caused some good in the world.

The Coolest Gangs, Ever

Seriously, what would you do if you were walking down a dark alley and you saw a guy come running at you dressed like a baseball player, wielding a bat and wearing KISS makeup? I’d probably kick his ass straight up, but most people would pee their pants and run. It turns out that crazy director Walter Hill came up with the Baseball Furies just because of his love for two things – baseball and the band KISS. Maybe I should start a gang called The Crazy BlueBalls, where they come equipped like racquetball players…complete with rackets, goggles and blue balls, but they are dressed up as movie theater ushers (because I love movies, get it?) Now that is some intimidating stuff right there. The film is just filled with some of the most fantastic imagery you will find, and it sticks out so well against the dark city. On a side note though, the really cool part about the entire film is the real gang element that existed while in production. For instance, The Baseball Furies were also a reference to a real NYC gang called Second Base…which wore letterman jackets with Second Base printed on the back. There is a little double meaning to when the DJ says The Warriors have “… made it past Second Base.” Also, the real NYC gangs didn’t take too lightly to the film crew running through their turfs, so production had to hire some real gangs as “security” on the set.

The Music

The Warriors theme is eerie and epic, but the music played by the omniscient DJ is pure perfection for this film. Sent as a warning shot to The Warriors, she plays a little song that goes something like – “”Nowhere to run to, baby…Nowhere to hide…Got nowhere to run to, baby…Nowhere to hide.” Awesome. You can expect some pretty cheesy music throughout the film due to its time of release, but nothing is as good as the victory song at the end, an original song performed by Joe Walsh – “Somewhere out on that horizon…Out beyond the neon lights…I know there must be somethin’ better…But there’s nowhere else in sight…It’s survival in the city…When you live from day to day…City streets don’t have much pity…When you’re down, that’s where you’ll stay…In the city, oh, oh…In the city.”

The Bathroom Fight

Who would have ever thought that a men’s bathroom could be a great fight venue? Seeing people getting slammed into toilets, with porcelain and water flying everywhere, is a bit more entertaining than I would have normally thought. This fight between The Warriors and The Punks is epic. The Punks are fighting on roller skates. I don’t know whether to laugh or applaud that, but if a man can kick your ass on roller skates…then I think you should probably go get into some bar brawls for practice before taking on an actual gang. In all seriousness though, Walter Hill took the most time for this single scene to make it so awesome. This was the only scene shot on a set, and took it took five days of shooting at eleven hours each day to complete.

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Moment We Fell In Love

So David Patrick Kelly is easily one of the creepiest little dudes in the history of cinema. I have nightmares about Kelly and Jackie Earle Haley reading dialog in a dark corner — super creepy. First, they both have that whole three name thing going on…as do most psychopaths. Second, who am I kidding – I don’t have nightmares. Nightmare’s have dreams about me. I digress. David Patrick Kelly, somehow thought to put beer bottles on his fingers and spout one of the creepiest but iconic lines in my cinematic memory – “Warriors, come out to play-ay”. Sorry, but it creeps me out to no end, and it also does an amazing job at setting up the oncoming fight scene.

Final Thoughts

The film is not a masterpiece, but it is a cult classic and a damn good movie. Word is Tony Scott is planning a sequel, and while that could be good…I fucking hope not. The beauty of this film is that each actor was a relative unknown, and chosen because they embodied the character they were supposed to be playing. Apparently, Robert De Niro and Tony Danza were offered lead roles…which again could have been cool, but I appreciate this movie so much more knowing that the only people that still really exist in film today are David Patrick Kelly and James Remar. So do me a favor if you don’t already own it, run out and buy it…pop it in, and after watching it, ask yourself one thing…

Can You Dig It?


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