There are some movies that you might see as a kid that just stick with you over the years. Today’s movie is definitely one such movie for me. I remember seeing this movie when I was a kid but honestly could only recall a couple of scenes. I would occasionally think about watching it when I would see the video on the shelf at Blockbuster or Hollywood Video but never did rent it. Then, in 2005, I saw a commercial for The Warriors video game and my first thought was that this should be fun. I decided that if I was going to get the game, I should go ahead and get the movie as well and rewatch it so I went ahead and bought the directors cut, which had come out that year as well. So let’s get ready to rumble with today’s movie, The Warriors.
The plot: Cyrus, the charismatic leader of the Gramercy Riffs, the largest gang in New York, calls a midnight meeting and invites every gang in New York to send 9 unarmed representatives to attend the meeting in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. Cleon, leader of the Warriors from Coney Island, says they will attend and he heads out on the subway with Swan, Ajax, Snow, Cochise, Cowboy, Vermin, Rembrandt, and Fox. At the meeting, Cyrus speaks out to the assembled gang members and tells them that if they consolidate their forces, instead of fighting each other over their respective turfs, they could run New York City, as the total number of gang members outnumber the cops. As Cyrus continues to lay out his plan to the cheering crowd, Luther, the leader of the Rogues, is handed a pistol and he shoots Cyrus. Fox, who had moved closer to where Cyrus was speaking, saw Luther shoot Cyrus and when Luther spots him, he points the gun at Fox. Suddenly spotlights turn on, as the police had quietly been surrounding the park to break up the gang meeting, and Luther is blinded by the spotlights and Fox uses the chance to get away. Cleon tells the rest of the warriors to get out of there while he goes to check on Cyrus. As Cleon stares at Cyrus’ body, Luther screams out to the Riffs that the Warriors were the ones to shoot Cyrus and he attacks Cleon, who easily knocks Luther but then gets beat down by the Riffs. As the police start arresting any gang members they catch, the Warriors manage to break through a section of fence and hide out in a cemetery. After the heat dies down some, Swan, Cleon’s second-in-commnad, assesses the situation and decides they are heading back to Coney Island. Vermin is worried about the fact that the cops will be out in force looking for any gang members but Swan says they have a bigger problem; whether or not the temporary truce between all of the gangs is still on. Swan tells the group that if they get separated, they should meet up at Union Square, as that is the station where they switch trains to get to Coney. Meanwhile, with Cyrus dead, Masai is now the leader of the Riffs and he tells them that he wants the Warriors, alive or wasted, and tells them to send the word out. As a radio D.J. relays Masai’s message out over the air, all of the various gangs in the city hear the message and go looking for the Warriors in their respective turfs. As the Warriors wait for a subway train, they spot the Turnbull AC’s, a gang of skin heads, cruising around in a bus and they take cover as the bus passes them. When the train shows up, the Warriors make a run for the platform just as the Turnbull AC’s turn around and give chase but the Warriors manage to get on the train before the Turnbulls get to them and it leaves the station. Meanwhile, the Rogues stop off at a corner shop and Luther makes a quick phone call, explaining what happened to the person on the other end. Afterwards, one of Luther’s men is worried about the Riffs finding out that they were the ones to shoot Cyrus but Luther tells him not to worry, as every gang in the city is looking for the Warriors and they can look as well, just to make sure they are dead. Back on the subway, a fire on the tracks forces the Warriors off the train and the end up in a neighborhood run by the Orphans, a low level gang that wasn’t invited to Cyrus’ summit. Swan and Fox go to talk with Sully, the Orphans’ leader, and convince him they aren’t there to cause trouble and just passing through to the next station. Sully is content to let them through but Mercy, a girl that hangs out with the Orphans, causes trouble when she asks for one of the Warriors’ vests and when they refuse, she asks Sully if he is going to let just any gang march through his territory. Sully tells them to take off their vests and “go as civilians” or else he will have to waste them but Swan refuses, then leads the Warriors down the street. Mercy follows after them and is grabbed by Ajax but Swan tells him to let her go and asks why she is following them. As they talk, Sully and the rest of the Orphans show up looking for a fight but Snow hands Cowboy a bottle he was carrying around his neck and Swan rips part of Mercy’s dress to use as a wick, fashioning a moltov cocktail. Swan throws it at a car next to the Orphans and as the car catches on fire, he leads the Warriors and Mercy to the station as the car explodes, killing one Orphan and chasing off the others. The gang is stuck on the 96th Street Platform waiting for the next train to show up when the cops show up, forcing them to run. The gang gets separated, with Swan, Snow, Ajax, and Cowboy making it out onto the street, while Vermin, Cochise, and Rembrandt manage to avoid the police and jump onto another train. Fox has Mercy with him but when he gets attacked by a cop, he yells at her to run as he struggles with the cop, only to be thrown off the platform into the path of an oncoming train. Out on the street, Swan, Snow, Ajax, and Cowboy are confronted by the Baseball Furies and make a run for it, heading into the nearby park. As the Furies chase after them, Swan and Snow split off, then double back and take on one of the slower members of the Furies as the others continue chasing after Ajax and Cowboy. When Cowboy can’t run anymore, they stop to fight and Cowboy gets knocked down by the leader. Ajax confronts him and manages to beat him while Swan and Snow show up to help fight off the Furies. After beating them, the Warriors grab some of their bats and head off but as they pass by a woman sitting on a bench, Ajax decides to stop and try to hook up with her. The others try to convince him not to leave but Ajax dismisses their concerns and heads back to the woman while Swan and the others continue back to the station but after a while, Cowboy and Snow decide to head back to keep an eye on him. As Ajax starts talking with the woman, he starts trying to grab and kiss her but as she struggles with him, she manages to handcuff him to the bench and reveals that she is a cop. She then whistles for back up and when more officers arrive, Ajax manages to knock one down but the other hits him with his night stick and Cowboy and Snow get there just in time to see him placed in the back of the squad car and taken away. Swan heads back to the station and encounters Mercy, who warns him that cops are still all over the place and tells him what happened to Fox. As they go to try and get the train to Union Station, they encounter the police and Swan grabs Mercy and they run down the tracks to avoid being arrested. Meanwhile, Vermin, Cochise, and Rembrandt arrive at Union Station and see no sign of the others but do see a group of women hanging near the stairs. They approach them and the women, a female gang called the Lizzies, invite them back to their place to party and Vermin and Cochise eagerly accept, with Rembrandt reluctantly going with them. At the Lizzies’ clubhouse, Vermin and Cochise both find a girl and start making out with them while Rembrandt nervously wanders around. When one of the Lizzies suddenly locks the door, another confronts Rembrandt about the Warriors shooting Cyrus and Rembrandt shouts out a warning to the others. The Lizzies start attacking the Warriors and Rembrandt’s arm is cut but they manage to get away from the Lizzies and make it back onto the street. As they catch their breaths, Rembrandt tells Vermin and Cochise that the Lizzies think they killed Cyrus and every gang in the city probably thinks the same thing so they head back to Union Station to meet the others. Meanwhile, Swan and Mercy are walking down the tunnel and Mercy asks why he keeps picking on her. Swan says he doesn’t like her lifestyle and Mercy says she does what she needs to to survive. The two end up kissing but before it goes any farther, Swan stops and says that they should keep going to Union Station, then gets upset with Mercy when she wants to keep going and have sex. At Union Station, Vermin, Cochise, and Rembrandt see Snow and Cowboy approaching and ask about the others. They tell them about Ajax being busted by the cops and they decide to go looking for Swan. Meanwhile, Swan reaches the station and Mercy soon joins him on the platform, warning him about a gang, the Punks, that is watching him. Swan tells her he knows they are there and when the other Warriors arrive at the platform, Swan motions to let them know about the Punks, then nods in the direction of the restroom. The Warriors head inside and Swan takes Mercy in there with them so they can get ready for the Punks. The Punks enter the restroom and a fight breaks out between the two gangs but the Warriors come out on top. After the fight, the Warriors and Mercy get on the train to Coney Island, with Vermin, Snow, and Cochise talking about Cyrus’ big plan. When two prom couples get on the train, they end up sitting across from Swan and Mercy and as they stare at them, Mercy feels embarrassed by her appearance and start to fidget with her hair but Swan grabs her hand and stops her, then stares at the 2 couples and makes them uncomfortable enough to get off the train at the next stop. When the Warriors finally reach Coney Island, Swan comments about how they were fighting to get back here and wonders if it was worth it. As they head back to their clubhouse, Luther and the Rogues follow them in their car so the Warriors stop to arm themselves as Luther begins linking some bottles together and taunting them by yelling out, “Warriors, come out to play!”. Swan leads them out onto the beach and when the Rogues follow, he confronts Luther and asks why he shot Cyrus. Luther says he just felt like it and Swan challenges him to a fight, then throws a switchblade into Luther’s arm before he can shoot him. As Luther cries out in pain, Swan grabs the knife out of his arm and uses Luther’s hair to wipe the blood off of it. Suddenly, Masai and the Riffs appear and approach the group and Swan asks if they are still looking for them. Masai tells him that they found what they are after, as they were told who really shot Cyrus, and as Luther tries to say it was the Warriors, Masai tells Swan that they will deal with them and Swan nods his head and leaves with Mercy and the others, while Luther screams out as the Riffs surround the Rogues. As the Warriors make their way down the beach to their home, Swan and Mercy end up staring at each other for a while before walking off together, having bonded over their night together.
The Warriors initially had a negative reception from the critics but over the years, has gained a more favorable response in recent years, holding an 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics liked the gritty portrayal of the gang’s and the styling of the movie. The movie was expected to be a big hit after coming in at #1 on it’s opening weekend but unfortunately, in a case of reality mimicking fiction, some gangs had gone to see the movie and encountered rival gangs at the theaters, resulting in several fights and violent incidents to occur. As a result, Paramount Pictures decided to pull the movie from theaters. Despite all this, the movie still was a hit, earning $22.5 million off of a $4 million budget, and would become a cult hit, spawning several spin-offs including a video game and a comic book series.
This is such a fun movie to watch. The acting was good, with Michael Beck (Swan), James Remar (Ajax), and DeborahVan Valkenburgh (Mercy) doing good jobs in their roles. However, David Patrick Kelly definitely stole the show, as his portrayal of Luther really shot him up to stardom, while his “Warriors” taunt has been parodied and mimicked in movies for years afterwards. The story was interesting, loosely based on the novel by Sol Yurick by the same name. The dark lighting used in the movie kind of helped show off the “gritty” aspect of the gangs during that time. The fight scenes were pretty well choreographed but there were times where they would reshow the same strike, which actually stunted the momentum a little. A definite cult classic and worth giving a shot.
Rating: 4 out of 5