THE WARRIORS, Walter Hill 1979


I had old memories about this film I used to like when I was a kid, I don’t think I was aware of street bands away from punks, skinheads or heavy metal guys, for gangs weren’t a thing in Spain in the 80’s, and those can’t even been considered bands, but urban culture groups, some of them involving politics but mainly for aesthetic reasons.

The Warriors came to my mind again in New York City, where I bought the DVD, I could only remember some guys called The Warriors escaping from being fucked up by other tougher guys on their way back home. I didn’t remember final stop was Coney Island, which I got to know last year…a decadent but charming place, I must say.

Anyway, The Warriors became a good surprise and I’m glad to have rediscovered it, I really find it original and worth seeing it from time to time.

The Warriors, together with the most prominent gangs in New York City are summoned up to a meeting held up by Cyrus, the leader of the most important and powerful band in the city, The Riffs. Nine members of each band have to go to Bronx, to listen to a guy who’s been able to call a truce among bands in order to get organized and fight against Police department for having control over New York.

Warriors, come to play!

Warriors, come to play!

Everybody feels really enthusiastic, and for a moment seems Cyrus is convincing all the attendants, however he’s deadly shot and chaos succumbs when Police force turns up to end up the summit. Fox, one of the Warriors, has witnessed the whole scene so Luther (David Patrick Kelley) of the Rogues tries to shoot him too without success.

To make things worse, Luther spreads the word that The Warriors did it, and Cleon, their leader,  is caught up by the Riffs immediately.

Thus, The Warriors, now under Swan’s command, have to make their way from the Bronx back to Coney, a very long journey by subway, having all the bands, from the Baseball Furies to the Lizzies, against their side, seeking to catch and bring them  to the Riffs for what surely won’t be a pleasant experience.

Seems like a very simple plot, with nothing new,  but  all the difficulties they find on their way, all the bands they have to  fight against, enrich the story, making a more dynamic movie. The Warriors is like a videogame, with marked stages as they advance in their journey with comic frames. Every band seems tougher than the previous one, with any location for each one.

Friendly guys, ain't they?

Friendly guys, ain't they?

Special mention to the female deejay of the gang radio station, alerting all the bands that the guys from Coney have to be chased and updating on the band developments, sending them personal messages and playing special songs for them.  

What about the bands? The way they are depicted I think is quite accurate, New York was one of the most dangerous cities in that time, too much population of different ethnicities and environments, depression and poverty on the streets which increased delinquency rates to its most with amazing feeling of territorial control and the ghost of ‘Nam still very present.

The Warriors become the main characters of the film and you end up sympathizing with, but by no means are fine guys. There’s a military hierarchy led by Cleon, however when he’s out of the scene, there’s tension about who must be chief war, as Ajax (James Remar, Dexter’s dad, by the way) do not reckon he’s to follow Swan at all. What kind of profile is required to be the most prominent member of the band? At least you got to be tough, and as life on the streets is not easy, your actions must provide some sort of benefit to the gang.

You might not share my opinion, but I will never understand people to join groups embracing a logo or dressing the same way just to show the world they are organized. Probably social situation is key to the uprising of bands, I’m too individualist to understand why minorities what to be so prominent in front of the eyes of society. Anyway, as I’ve said before, no gang culture in Spain at all, that’s why I find The Warriors fascinating. Personal favourite since I was a kid are the Baseball Furies, with the suits, the bats and their faces covered with make-up. Uh, cool!

The Coolest gang

The Coolest gang

Definitely worth seeing it, for me it’s a classic!

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