The Warriors (1979) from Tuna And Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Tuna's notes:

The Warriors has a simple plot. A gang from Coney Island, the Warriors, travels to the far end of the Bonx for a meeting of all the major gangs in the 5 boroughs. The speaker, Cyrus, is on a roll, advocating that all of the gangs join forces to drive out the mob and the police, then take over the city, when someone shoots him, and manages to shift the blame to the Warriors.


There is not much in the way of exposure, but Deborah Van Valkenburgh in her first role wears a very tight thin top, and pokes through it the entire film.

The Warriors then have to get home with every gang and every cop in New York after them. What could have been a rather dull gang exploitation film is actually very well made, and features great photography, wonderful costumes for the gangs, and lots of action.

I found myself drawn in to the story. It held my interest start to finish, and actually made me care a little bit about these street gang members.

Scoop's notes:

Director Walter Hill has had a long Hollywood career. Although he has never directed a great film, he rose to box office success with "48 Hours", and eventually sunk to the depths with the superstinker "Supernova" (which he removed his name from after it was finished by two other directors). "The Warriors" is recognized as one of his best pictures, possibly his best action film, and many people consider it a stylish and unique classic of the action film genre. He presented the swirling lights and images of the nighttime city as background, and choreographed the gang action almost as precisely as did West Side Story, turning it all into some colorful, ultra-bloody ballet. About half of the film takes place in the trains, tunnels, elevated stations, and underground subway stations of the New York public transportation system. These settings were used beautifully to create a creepy, paranoid, claustrophobic ambience. The various gangs are highly stylized, ala Clockwork Orange. One gang wears baseball outfits, one gang dresses as mimes, one as ninjas, etc. If you think about it, the movie's plot is basically a filmed version of a video game. The Warriors must defeat one set of iconic opponents, then move to the next "screen," where they have to take on a new set of fashion co-ordinated opponents on different turf.

In fact, the gangs are romanticized to the point where many people blamed the film for encouraging and glamorizing gang violence. If I remember right, there were even some gang incidents at some theaters. That was all pretty silly. It seems obvious that the film's portrayal should not be mistaken for a gritty recreation of the mean streets. It's obviously a fantasy. Don't hold your breath waiting for a real-life mime gang in leotards and white face. That kind of iconography would be too wussified for a Broadway softball team, let alone real gang-bangers.

But it certainly makes for some poetic and cinematic images.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • no features

I would like the film a great deal if it were about 10 minutes shorter. Walter Hill's colorful and conventionalized vision of nighttime New York is so striking that it makes up for the predictable "defeat gang, move to next screen, take on different gang" narrative line, and the film does manage to maintain dramatic tension throughout 90% of the action. But there are a few sections where the story bogs down. For example, half the gang spends a lot of time just sort of hanging out with the lesbian gang before anything happens, and there are a lot of moments when guys just sort of stare each other down, like a 20th century version of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. A little of that goes a long way.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three stars. Apollo 77, Maltin 3/4, BBC 3/5.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.5. This score is fairly consistent with the three-star critical consensus.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

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