The Warriors is a movie I’ve seen a lot about, but we’ve never seen so we decided to give it a run. Released, in 1979, The Warriors is an action thriller about groups of gangs in New York and how one of them gets framed for killing a famous gang leader. The Warriors gang is hunted by all the others when one of the most powerful gangs puts a hit out on them for the death of Cyrus. The Warriors have to travel through enemy territory, isolated and alone, to reach the safety of their home on Coney Island. Like The Purge meets Homeward Bound, with a strange menagerie of gangs from amazons to baseball dalmations, and everything in between.
Right away we thought, where’s Mark Singer and Patrick Swayze? If this movie needed anything, it was more feathered hair. It was set in that strange time when 70s disco and bell bottoms were slowly giving way to 80’s hair and music. For the most part the movie is a diverse cast of people who never really show up on anything else, except for a couple of exceptions. It is a movie that fell way under the radar, but has become a cult classic over the years. The story isn’t really anything special but I think it hit home because of how different it was. A lot of critics like that it presented gangs in a different light. Not always negative, not always in a sense that it was trying to fix the situation, but also not really in a positive way. It’s not a realistic movie in any sense. It is over the top, from the names of the gangs, their costumes, and the events in the movie.
The core of the story is a bit like a behind enemy lines type of plot. Your ‘heroes’ are stuck in enemy territory, and just want to get home. The bad guys, the gang who framed them, chase them all the way back home for the final confrontation. Some of the gangs we meet are ridiculous, to say the least, but others are reminiscent of real gangs. Of the most stereotypical, or just silly, we spotted the Kung Fu gang, the Overalls, Baseball Dalmations, the Dapper Magentas, the Amazonians, and the Mimes (names may not reflect the actual gang names in the movie.) And, yes, they looked as odd as you would imagine. Each group had a different method for trying to stop the Warriors, from just tracking them down, to tricking them into a party with all women (those were the Amazons.)
From what I’ve read, during it’s initial run there was some issues with violence around the film. Mostly, as the director points out, because the movie was popular with young gang members who found themselves at theaters with rivals. There were even deaths related to its release, and marketing was changed due to it.
It’s not a bad movie, but not a great one. What it does have going for it, is pretty unique though. It’s a very diverse movie with a lot of visual appeal. It doesn’t try to preach about fixing gang culture which, while a problem, doesn’t need to be the subject of every movie about gangs. It is a movie about brotherhood and struggle, but not so deep that it’s trying to teach you something larger. It’s dated, without a doubt, but it is unlike a lot of other movies I’ve seen. I’d say it’s worth checking out, just to see what it’s all about.