Mar 11, 2018
Today’s movie is “The Warriors” (1979), the cult classic directed by Walter Hill and written in collaboration with David Shaber. The film is based off Sol Yurick’s 1965 novel about a near future when gangs that control neighborhoods are beginning to organize. Despite opening to poor reviews, the film went on to make a modest profit and continues to influence multimedia today.
The story follows The Warriors, the gang who runs Coney Island, who are travelling to Van Cortlandt Park to attend a meeting organized by Cyrus (Roger Hill), the leader of the Riffs. Cyrus has a vision of unifying the gangs, but is killed by a member of The Rogues. In the chaos that follows, The Warriors are blamed for Cyrus’ death, and a call goes out to the other gangs to capture The Warriors, dead or alive. The Warriors begin a long journey back home from behind enemy lines.
The story is actually pretty great, and the aesthetic is delightfully ambitious. Each gang has a comic book quality, almost torn from the pages of street-level heroes like Daredevil or Batman. And the original music is really good, although some other choices are quite dated. I remember hearing Barry De Vorzon’s tracks and more than a few choice dialogue samples showing up in new tracks and mix sets.
There are some major flaws, however, particularly the dialogue, which is not only too canned, but quite casually homophobic. The cast was whitewashed, changing the novel’s non-white protagonists into white lead characters, which was rumored to have been a corporate decision. And the journey ends up feeling too rushed, once it gets going, and some scenes just feel thrown in.
“The Warriors” (1979) has major flaws, but it also has something that has stood the test of time. The world has expanded with a substantial prequel added to the video game version. Paramount and Hulu are working with the Russo Brothers to develop a television series. In a world where dystopias like “The Walking Dead” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” are finding success, “The Warriors” becomes a viable intellectual property. If you can get past its flaws, then you’ll probably see the possibilities as well, and that’s what makes it a cult classic. Its potential.
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
One Movie Punch: 7.0/10
“The Warriors” (1979) is rated R and is streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime.