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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 12/20/02

The Warriors
1979 (2000) - Paramount

review by Robert Smentek of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

The Warriors Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B/D-

Specs and Features

93 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen, 16x9 enhanced, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailer, film-themed menus, scene access (14 chapters), languages: English and French (DD mono), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

"We have the streets suckas... can you dig it?"

Walter Hill's The Warriors is one of the greatest B-movies ever made. Filmed with style and tension, the movie combines aspects of western, kung fu, and horror movies. Controversial upon its release in 1979, the Warriors is rumored to be the film that Walter Hill chose to direct over Alien, and has garnered a cult following through endless showings on cable TV.

Based on a novel by Sol Yurick, The Warriors takes place over one night in New York City. The Warriors, a Coney Island street gang, head to the Bronx for a meeting that promises to change relations among the dozens of gangs in the 5 boroughs. Representatives from each gang converge to hear Cyrus, "the magic man," spew his plan for the various tribes to take over the city. Unfortunately, the scene gets heavy and shots are fired. The Warriors are framed for the violence, ending the city-wide truce among all the groups. Now the gang is in the crosshairs of every "bopper" in town. In order to clear their name, The Warriors must get back to their Coney Island turf in one piece. A daunting task indeed, as they find themselves hunted along the way by every gang in town - each with a distinct look and identity. There's guys in greasepaint and baseball uniforms, gangs in zoot suits, scuzzball skinheads, and even mimes (?).

As the Warriors make their way from subway station, they prove themselves to be one set of baaaaddd dudes. Attacked from all sides, the gang holds their own in several extremely well choreographed fight scenes, including one in a subway station bathroom that reportedly took a week to film. Like Mad Max and Escape from New York, Hill's movie borrows heavily from westerns, and each gang fight plays like an old-fashioned standoff. Furthermore, Hill and cinematographer Lazlo Kovacs created a moody, sometimes eerie film that builds tension as the gang attempts to make their way back home. Many scenes are heightened by strange, somewhat dated, electronic music which may remind you of an 80s slasher flick.

While the direction is stylish and cutting-edge, especially for pre-MTV days, The Warriors does suffer from mediocre acting and weak dialogue plastered with cheesy 70s slang. Always-intense character actor James Remar appears as the trash talking Ajax, and Michael Beck, who would go on to destroy his career in Xanadu and Megaforce, is the gang's leader Swan. Who really shines, though, is the terminally vile David Patrick Kelly, a character actor who oozes slime in every appearance. For those who haven't yet seen the film, he's the reason your buddy puts beer bottles on his fingers and says, "War-Ree-Ers, come out to play-ay." We all know someone who does this.

The Paramount DVD of The Warriors is sadly lacking. Except for your standard theatrical trailers, there are no supplements. This is odd considering that many TV versions feature several extended and cut scenes. Also, given the fact that the movie was essentially pulled from theatres due to gang violence, you'd think that someONE would've had something to say about the film in a featurette. The 16:9 widescreen video presentation is nice, with very few scratches and blips. A purposely dark film, there isn't much to say about the colors, but the clarity of the film is a welcome improvement over the versions typically seen on the small screen. The Dolby Digital audio is similarly good, and noticeably better than the VHS version.

One thing though... couldn't have Walter Hill come up with a tougher sounding theme song than Joe Walsh's "In the City?" Dated as it may be, The Warriors is a must see cult favorite.

Robert Smentek
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