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The Warriors (1979)

Posted in Movie reviews - 1970s, Movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2012 by They call me "Mephy"

The Warriors (1979)

Promotional movie poster

This was and still is, one of my favorite movies of all time. The casting of newcomers was the right choice for director Walter Hill. This film got quite a bit of uproar from the media and moviegoers, due to the facts rival gangs clash at theaters, as well as vandalism. Even during the shooting of the film, there were interference from local gangs towards the casts and the sets (equipments were damaged at one point and casts were even challenged by local gangs!) . The film is based on Sol Yurick’s novel, “The Warriors” (1965), which borrowed elements from Anabasis by Xenophon.

The film follows the Warriors, a gang from Coney Island, Brooklyn, on their way to a big gathering for a truce between other gangs, hosted by Cyrus (Roger Hill), leader of the biggest and most powerful gang in New york City, the Gramercy Riffs, to unite all of them in order to control the city. But something goes wrong during the midnight summit and Cyrus is shot down by Luther (David Patrick Kelly), leader of the Rogues. In the ensuing panic, Cleon, leader of the Warriors, is subdued (and predictably killed) by the angry crowd, while the rest of the Warriors escape the clash between the police (who were surrounding the place from darkness) and the gangs. Now war chief and second-in-command, Swan (Michael Beck), must lead them back to Coney Island and avoid getting wasted for trespassing rival turfs on their way home; little did they know, the Riffs have called a hit on them for killing Cyrus.

Co-written by David Shaber (who wrote for Hunt for Red October and Nighthawks) with Walter Hill, the movie has a cult following as proof of being a timeless classic. Originally meant to have comic book-styled panel transitions, this was not put into the theatrical release due to budget issues and because a rival film, The Wanderers (1979) was released into theaters as well, so the decision was made to avoid similarities. The depiction of gangs may not be as realistic but still effective in psyching the audiences. The settings of New York at night too, combined with a wet street from the rain, and a feeling of a really long night, gives us the impression of a surreal nightmare that our collective heroes go through before arrive home to a breaking dawn. The music, especially Joe Walsh’s “In the City”, which becomes an iconic “anthem” to the film, also fits very well with the rough city’s atmosphere. It’s one of those films I’ve yet to wear out on, even after being admittedly watched over five times now and here I am introducing it to some of you bloggers out there. If you’re into a good gang film, this is -the- one to add to your library!

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