The Warriors

Nine members from each of the twenty-two gangs in New York City have gathered in the Bronx for a meeting organized by the Rifts, the largest of the New York City gangs. The leader of the Rifts, Cyrus, is making an inspirational speech on the platform – “The problem in the past has been the man turning us against one another. We have been unable to see the truth, because we have been fighting for ten square feet of ground, our turf, our little piece of turf. That’s crap, brothers! The turf is ours by right, because it’s our turn. All we have to do is keep up the general truce. We take over one borough at a time. Secure our territory… secure our turf… because it’s all our turf!” The gangs roar in agreement, but are cut off by a bang, followed by a swarm of police cars. Luther, the leader of the Rouges has shot and killed Cyrus but screams, “The Warriors did it!” ensuing a night of running, violence, and much more for the Warriors as they struggle to escape the grasps of the other gangs, and return to their turf in Coney Island to clear their name.

This is essentially the plot of The Warriors (Director’s cut), a gritty action film, released in 1979. The Walter Hill film is an adaptation of the late Sol Yurick’s novel. Yurick himself had actually based the novel on a Greek battle. It may seem as though the movie is unrealistic, in that the police are useless in controlling the gangs in New York City, but some fail to realize it reflects the book, and is supposed to be set in such a society where the gangs nearly run the city.

Unlike other gang movies, it is quite easy to follow the progression and storyline of the film. In the director’s cut of the film, comic book strips separate each scene, allowing the viewer to differentiate between the gangs, and create a mental timeline of all the events that are transpiring.

The music is interestingly tied into the film. When the Warriors encounter other gangs, the same music plays, signaling to the viewer that a fight is coming up. This may seem as though it makes the fighting scenes boring, however, the choreography of the fight scenes are unique every time. In the movie, there is a radio station that is listened to by the gangs, to inform them of what’s going on in the streets. The D.J., played by Lynne Thigpen, then plays songs according to what is happening (ex. The final song is “In the City” by the Eagles). This demonstrates a purposeful choice, and gives the music a strong connection to the scene it is meant to compliment.

There are nine members of the Warriors in the movie, and each one is given a unique personality. Speech may be minimal for some, but the actors’ body language helps to demonstrate what the character is like. Swan, for example, (played by Michael Beck) is one of the main characters. He stands tall and confidently, demonstrating his position as leader, and speaks with certainty and firmness in his voice. However, when the female character Mercy, played by Deborah Van Valkenburg, appears, we see a softer side of the gangster, not in the words he says, but the tone he uses, making his sensitivity believable.

The director had shots that ranged from close up, to wide, and right in between. The close ups were wisely used in scenes that were more intense, while the wider shots were used so the viewer could see the setting they were in, as the setting shifts quite a bit throughout the film – from the subway, to parks, to apartments, and streets. The cameras were not shaky during fighting scenes, as they are in other action movies, making it clear what is being focused on.

The unique, yet simple storyline make for an entertaining film, enjoyable for those who love action movies, and those who just want to get a taste of an action film without any extreme or graphic images.