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Come out and play-ay.

  • Jul 26, 2012
*** out of ****

"The Warriors" begins with a particularly stylish opening montage that depicts several gangs - each supposedly handling no weapons, and each limited to about nine members or less - boarding and leaving trains, riding buses and driving cars; all too one similar location. We could just as easily follow any single gang, but the one we follow throughout the narrative gives the film its title. The Warriors make it to the scene and an almighty figure named Cyrus rises onto a park stage in front of many gangs and calls together a truce. As long as the truce is in effect, gangs must be peaceful with other gangs. But when a rival gang member assassinates Cyrus and blames the Warriors for the murder, they're on the run from anyone in the streets capable of doing damage. After all, with Cyrus dead, the truce doesn't matter so much anymore. Oh, and I forgot to mention: this all takes place in the near future.

That's the entire plot in a nutshell, but it's not really about plot at all. The film was somewhat of a problem child when it first released in 1979; it was controversial for supposedly inspiring several violent acts amongst gang members who would often attend screenings for the sake of duking it out right there in the theater and therefore, critics didn't quite know what to make of it at the time. But luckily, time has been kind to this film. It has since found an audience that appreciates it in all its glory and what writer/director Walter Hill was trying to do. I'm not entirely convinced that he achieved everything that he'd hoped to with the picture, but it's an adrenaline rush of pure absurd, violent whimsy. And it doesn't even stop for petty moralization.

This is a style over substance exercise, but it's one of those absolutely entertaining and delightful ones that draws you in from the first frame. People remember it for the quirky characters, the hammy dialogue that delivers a laugh a minute, the exciting fight scenes, and the elaborate employment of lighting schemes. The "plot" - if you could call it that - is not much more than what I have already described, although the situational material is brilliant enough to carry the rest of the movie on its own. Notable action scenes include, but are not limited to, gang fights with: the Orphans, the Turnbull AC's, and the Baseball Furries, who provide iconic imagery for the film's status in pop culture with their painted faces and baseball bat weaponry.

Walter Hill said that he intended to present the film as a sort of live action comic book. He attempts to do so by sketching a paper thin plot that jumps around from place to place, ridiculous situation to situation, and by writing strange and peculiar characters. The Warriors themselves are a lively bunch - - Ajax (James Remar), Cleon (Dorsey Wright), Cochise (David Harris), Cowboy (Tom McKitterick), Fox (Thomas G. Waites), Vermin (Terry Michos), Snow (Brian Tyler), Rembrant (Marcelino Sanchez), and pretty boy Swan (Michael Beck) - and they're cleverly backed by more than enough supporting characters. The most important of all of them is perhaps Mercy (Deborah Van Valkenburgh), a love interest for Swan.

But then again, let's not forget people like Luther (David Patrick Kelly), who delivers one of the film's greatest lines: "Warriors! Come out and play!" It may not sound like much on paper, but the ham-handed delivery of the line is simply priceless, and it has to be seen to believed, just like most of the famous scenes and quotes from the film. "The Warriors" is surely imperfect and probably still loathed by some mainstream critics, but I thought it was a fun ride charged by its visuals and wild, eccentric charm. I bet it works better with friends, since it's just so damn quotable that you've probably seen half of it without even meaning to (we can thank Youtube for that), but watching it alone, I still enjoyed myself quite a bit. It's a difficult film to pin down to one selective genre, but that's just one of the things that I found so endearing about this little futuristic actioner. If Cyrus were to ask if I dug it, I would say - without a doubt on my mind - "Yes, I do."

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review by . May 12, 2009
The Warriors is Walter Hill's street gang masterpiece. It's so cheesy and highly entertaining. The Warriors, along with all of the street gangs in the New York City area are invited to a "street gang "convention" headed by the leader of the city's biggest gang Cyrus. Cyrus has a vision, to unite all the gangs and take over the city. Each gang brings their leader and eight "representatives" to the meeting. The film follows the gang with it's main emphasis on the Warriors.    These …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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