Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Warriors (1979)

I vividly remember seeing this VHS box art at the video store and wondering what it was all about. I never got around to actually watching the film back in the day. In the last five years of so, I started hearing about this film again. First it was a few folks putting it on top ten lists of 1970s films and then John Muir covered it in his book Science Fiction and Fantasy Films of the 1970s. That is where I learned it was based on Anabasis by Xenophon. So now I knew I had to watch it.

Cyrus (Roger Hill) has a grand plan, to unite all the gangs in New York city, and take over the whole thing. United, there is no way the police or politicians can stop them. He asks nine reps from all the gangs of New York together for a summit meeting, and in attendance are key members of The Warriors, whose turf is Coney Island. As the summit progresses, the gangs begin to see the benefits of joining up with Cyrus. Then everything goes to hell when Cyrus is assassinated. The Warriors are incorrectly blamed.

Swan (Michael Beck), the leader of the Warriors, must now lead his crew of eight men through hostile territory.  Various gangs are hunting them down, after Cyrus gang puts a bounty on their heads. The police are searching for them too. Within the ranks, Ajax (James Remar) starts to question Swan’s leadership. Along the way they meet Mercy (Deborah Van Valkenburgh) a woman who may help or hinder them. They also have to watch out for Luther (David Patrick Kelly) the man who actually knows who killed Cyrus, and who wants to make sure The Warriors are the ones that pay.

Good Points:
  • Rolls along with a fierce intensity that keeps you watching
  • Has some fun and explosive action scenes
  • Some solid acting helps pull you into the story

Bad Points:
  • Some of the fight choreography is lacking in places
  • If 70s style and slang annoy you… avoid this movie
  • Not much depth to the plot and some of the characters are shallow 

Walter Hill brought the intriguing yet flawed Streets of Fire to the big screen, but before that he crafted this action tale. The Warriors does a great job capturing the desperation, intensity and anxiety of the original tale. The cast handles the roles well providing a mix of personalities that play off each other. The rival gangs are bizarre and colorful (love the baseball themed thugs) and the whole film moves at a great pace. Plenty of action and tension make this great for a 1970s action fix.

Batter up!
Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 4
Sound: 3
Acting: 4
Script: 3
Music: 4
Direction: 4
Entertainment: 4
Total:  4

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.


  1. I've never seen this movie, but as a fan of the beat-em-up video games that more or less copied it (games such as Final Fight & Streets of Rage), I really need to rectify that.

    1. Oh man, I never made the beat-em-up connection. That's pretty cool. I was always a fan of "Streets of Rage". My sister and I would play two player not that and get pretty darn fun. Fun times on the Genesis. :)

  2. This is just a fun movie. I never made the connection to Xenophon and ancient history’s most celebrated retreat, but OK. The flick catches the flavor of the time when NYC was at its seediest – though after two decades of Disney-fication seediness has been re-emerging the past few years. Warriors, come out and play-ay!

    1. Yeah, this really was the old school New York (the one that also inspired "Escape from New York"). I've heard the seediness has been creeping back in.

      Oh yeah, and now that I've seen this movie a whole bunch of MST3K riffs suddenly got a lot funnier.

  3. I remember seeing this back in the day, though haven't revisited it since then. I hardly remember much about it. Maybe El Rey network will replay it at some point. They seem to be the go-to channel for exploitation. It reminds me of Escape From New York, but I tend to favor EfNY first. I have an acquaintance that recently saw EfNY and didn't like it citing it as silly, etc. I didn't disagree. (Our taste in films are pretty wide apart anyway.) Movies like this aren't high art and don't put on any pretenses of being it either, so either enjoy the escapism or not.

    1. Yeah "The Warriors" is a lot of fun. Worth a revisit if it does come around again. I didn't mention it in the review, the music works real well in the film too.

      I really enjoyed EfNY. I went on a bit of John Carpenter binge a couple years back and revisited it for the first time in years. It still held up to me. Yeah it is kinda silly, but it totally fits that exploitation feel. Snake Pliskin is still one of the best bad assess of the 1980s. But this one doesn't always click with everyone.