In a discussion of anyone’s favorite directors, it’s unlikely that the name Walter Hill would come up. In fact, most people probably couldn’t name any of his films. However, I would bet you that most movie fans have seen at least one of the films he has directed. Hill is the director of such hits as 48 Hours, Another 48 Hours, and Brewster’s Millions. Every once in a while, I like to dust off one of his older films. The Warriors was released the year I was born, and it includes all of the trappings of that era.
From the very beginning of the film, one can see the dating of the film. This includes the loud New York subway that doesn’t quite drown out the synthesized music. Don’t worry, the music will continue throughout the film so you will get your fill of late 70’s, early 80’s movie music.
The film follows the adventures of a gang from Coney Island. Cyrus, the leader of the largest gang in New York City, the Gramercy Riffs, calls a meeting of 100 of the gangs from the area. He attempts to organize the gangs and take over the city. Unfortunately, his dreams are short-lived and chaos ensues. As the gang members scatter from the police and each other, the Warriors are left in the Bronx, 30 miles from home, in hostile territory.
One of the best attributes of the film is seeing the various gangs that appear throughout the film. The eclectic styles of the late 70’s and 80’s are present in the costumes. Gangs ranging from average looking punks to mimes are seen joining the meeting. One gang that appears multiple times in the film is dressed in New York Yankee baseball uniforms with their faces painted in the style of the rock band KISS. While this gang was a vision of the filmmaker’s, some of the gangs and gang members that appear in the film are actually real. In fact, the production dealt with many gang-related issues during filming. This included multiple threats, destruction of studio property, and even hiring a gang to protect the studio’s trucks.
While this film is very dated, which is glaringly obvious from the music, costumes, and slang used in the script, I find that it has something that draws me back. There is an element of the gritty reality of the period, along with the danger of the streets of New York at night, which draws me into their world. I feel that these characters really knew the feeling of life running around at night, narrowly escaping with their lives.
While the film is able to capture me with its raw landscape, the script was quite dated, and seems very forced at this point. Perhaps it wouldn’t seem so to anyone who lived through that era, but to today’s audience, it may be a bit far-fetched. However, there are some great film quotes that can still make me smile to this day. The speech given by Cyrus early in the film provided two great quotes, “Can you count suckas?” and “Caaaan youuuuu diiig iiiiit?”
The final great quote from this film comes at the climax when the Warriors face off against Luther, the warlord of the Rogues played by David Patrick Kelley, on Coney Island. Luther baits the Warriors by banging three bottles on his fingers and taunting them by calling, “Warriooors! Come out to plaaayyay!”
On those nights that you feel nostalgic, or your life begins to feel just a little too sterile, this is a great film to bring back those nights when you felt most alive. It’s not the best film you’ll ever see, but it’s one that I have, and will continue to bring out of the vault on occasion. I guess the taunt just gets to you after a while….come out to plaaayay!