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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sean Kelly

Blindspot: The Cult of 2013: The Warriors

warriors

Marking the halfway point of my yearlong look at cult films, this month I chose Walter Hill’s 1979 gang thriller The Warriors.  The film takes place in a dystopian version of New York City, where street gangs outnumber the police five to one.  One night, all the gangs of the city are called together in the Bronx by Cyrus (Roger Hill), leader of the Gramercy Riffs, the most powerful gang in the city.  Cyrus wants the gangs to come together as one and take over the city.  However, during his speech, Cyrus is killed by Luther (David Patrick Kelly), the leader of The Rogues, who subsequently pins the murder on Coney Island gang The Warriors.  With all the gangs of the city and the police on their tail, The Warriors, lead by Swan (Michael Beck), have to fight their way back home.

I watched the 2005 director’s cut of the film, which emphasized the comic book style Walter Hill was going for.  The opening act of the film featured gangs of all different shapes and sizes gathering for Cyrus’ meeting, ranging from ethnic stereotypes to more comical gangs (such as one made up of mimes).  It’s almost a shame that many of these gangs are not seen again for the rest of the film.  It probably would’ve made The Warriors’ journey back to Coney Island much more interesting if they had a large variety of rival gangs crossing their path.  As it stands, the most outrageous gang The Warriors face off against is gang of face-painted baseball players, which I have to say was one of the more enjoyable sequences of the film.

I don’t know if the film is starting to get dated after 34 years, but I sort of felt that The Warriors has a relatively easy time getting back home, considering the fact that it was established that there were 100,000 rival gang members that they had to contend with.  Of course, you couldn’t make The Warriors’ journey absolutely hopeless either.  I do wish that more screen time was given to the lead villain Luther, since despite some memorial moments (including the infamous “Warriors, come out to play” line), he didn’t really come off as being that much of a threat.  I sort of understand that Luther and The Rogues were being set up as the final rival gang The Warriors have the contend with, however it seemed a bit anticlimactic when it actually happens.

Despite the comic-book nature of the film, The Warriors apparently generated much controversy over its depiction of a world, where street gangs greatly outnumbered the law enforcement.  In addition, there were violent acts associated with the film, as real gangs would end up fighting each other at screenings.  It is kind of silly today that such a film like The Warriors would’ve attracted such controversy.

Overall, I thought that The Warriors was OK.  The film isn’t exactly a timeless film and is very much a product of the late-1970s time period it was made it (though I did dig the synthesized score).  However, despite feeling a bit dated, the film still had its moments.

7 | FAIR 

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).