Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Warriors


The Warriors is a small cult film from the 1970s telling the story of a gang, The Warriors, and their struggles to get back to Coney Island from a meeting gone wrong. I actually forgot how much I liked this movie and left it out of my Top 20 because it just escaped my mind when I was coming up with a list. Walter Hill directs this masterpiece which combines the feel of a comic book and a 70s exploitation movie. The story is based off of a book from the 1960s and is also based of a story in ancient Greece that tells the story about a small legion of soldier caught behind enemy lines that must make it home.

While on their way to a meeting of all of the major gangs in New York, The Warriors, who control Coney Island and the area surrounding it, are introduced. Their leader is Cleon, second in command is Swan(the central character), then there are Ajax, Cowboy, Vermin, Cochise, Fox, Snow, and Rembrandt. Each plays their role in the gang with Cleon and Swan being the main leading force of the group. They are on their way to Van Cortlandt Park to hear a speech from Cyrus, the leader of the largest gang in New York, about his plan to unite all of the gangs and take over the city. During the meeting a member of another gangs assassinates Cyrus and blames The Warriors' leader Cleon. During the resulting chaos The Warriors manage to escape except for Cleon who is beaten to death. From this point on this movie is a giant chase scene, with the Warriors trying to get back to Coney Island while every gangs is out for their heads. The Warriors do not even know that they were blamed for the death of Cyrus and just think that the truce between all of the gangs has been erased with the death of Cyrus. They find this out about 3/4 of the way through the movie.

The characters in this movie are fantastic. Swan, the reluctant leader of the Warriors finds his inner strength and becomes a great leader in the process. He is willing to do whatever needs to be done in order to ensure that him and his crew get back to Coney Island in one piece. He is one of the only members of the group to actually stay on point and try and get back to their turf, where as other members of the group are more willing to diverge from their goal to give into their carnal desires. Ajax, the tough guy of the gang, is caught while trying to rape a woman in Central Park, after the woman handcuffs him to a bench. Others in the groups get taken in by an all female gang and narrowly escape with their lives. Swan and Ajax are the two main characters in the group and they represent both sides of the leadership spectrum. Swan, the unexpected leader who excels in his position, and Ajax, the hopeful leader who has no idea what he would do with the position. Swan is mostly emotionless and tries to examine a situation before he decides on an action whereas Ajax is willing to run into a situation, outnumbered, if he thinks he can beat the other group. This is a story of how to be a leader, and Swan is the reluctant recipient of that title but he does the best he can in the role.

I am a huge fan of 70s exploitation films and cult films from the 70s and this is one of the best of the bunch. Everything screams "1970s" in this movie, from the clothes, the disco gang, to the shots of the seedier sections of the city. Each neighborhood has its own gang and some of them are much stranger that other such as the Baseball Furies, who's members wear face paint and carry baseball bats, to the Gramercy Riffs, which is an all black kung-fu gang. The thing in the story that surprised me was how fast all of these gangs were to turn on the Warriors and believe a scummy gang such as the Rogues. If that name doesn't scream liar then I don't know what does, on top of the fact that the head of the Rogues, Luther, actually looks like a rat.

This is a fantastic movie that may seem dated in some ways but it is as good a watch as ever. This is easily one of my favorite movie and I just needed a refresher to remind me of that fact. The Warriors has a significant effect on pop culture, the rap community being the epicenter and that is for a good reason, which is because this movie is magnificent. Give this movie a watch and you won;t regret it. This movie easily deserves a 9/10. Having a good time watching a fantastic movie.