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“I’ll shove that bat up your ass and turn you into a popsicle.”

Often considered a classic of cult film, Walter Hill’s The Warriors, based on the novel of the same name by Sol Yurick is the simple tale of street gangs in future New York. Hill creates a very dystopian and daunting image of the Big Apple with violence and betrayal around every corner. The film begins with The Warriors assembling at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx for an unarmed meeting with all the other gangs in New York. Cyrus (Roger Hill), the leader of the most powerful gang, the Gramercy Riffs proposes a citywide truce but is then assassinated by Luther (David Patrick Kelly), the sadistic leader of the Rogues. Luther then proceeds to blame the Warriors for the murder of Cyrus and they’re left with no choice but to run through enemy territories to get back to their own, Coney Island.

The film is interesting and to some extent entertaining. I felt it emphasised the importance of loyalty and identity within a gang but as a whole I personally felt it was weak overall. I’ll start off with the positive points, the editing by David Holden is without a doubt superb, it’s fast paced and gives life to the well-choreographed action scenes. The music by Barry De Vorizon is also excellent and features prominent use of synthesisers and reminded me of Wendy Carlo’s sinister score using the Moog in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. Vorizon’s score overall helped reflected the dystopian setting and really captured each gang’s perspective on what to do with the Warriors. The film is overtly macho and features a male dominated cast with unrealistic perks of gang culture such as the Warriors in a long  shot somehow able to outrun a rival gang’s vehicle. Then again, Yurick’s novel was partly inspired the Greek epic Anabasis by Xenophon which probably reinforces why there’s limited female casting along with very epic fights (a modern interpretation of 300 perhaps?). The film is clever I admit in terms reinforcing the courage of the Warriors in their survival and the transition from one scene to another features comic book style graphics which was just cool, plain and simple. 

Now for the negatives: The acting I felt was very weak and unrealistic, there was only a few characters who I felt where brutal, real and violent such as Michael Beck portraying Swan, the leader of the Warriors who seems to be a man of wits as well as reason. Then there’s Ajax (James Remar) who strives for dominance, lust and pride (very Spartan-ish) and was definitely the true Warrior of the group who’s willing to stand his ground and fight! My favourite performance had to be by the great David Patrick Kelly. Luther is just an evil, scheming and harsh liar; 10 minutes into the film and you know you won’t be able to take your eyes off him! I loved how when he’s first shown on screen, you know he’s going to do something against the gangs, it’s the distinctive smile, it’s the close up of hands, it’s the gun being passed to him and then there’s the snitching, “That’s him! That’s…The Warrior!!”. Kelly really steals the show with a cunning performance and of course there’s the iconic example of improv involving three empty bottles! Overall, The Warriors is a film which I would recommend for someone who hasn’t discovered cult cinema but for me, it was a disappointment due to expecting much much more. For me, it’s good on the tiniest of levels, some actors are brilliant, some of the dialogue is brilliant, music is stunning but it was limited in terms of narrative, other actors and overall purpose. An ok film that’s worth giving a go, I may be wrong, maybe there’s a lot more to ‘The Warriors’ than meets the eye but sadly I don’t really understand the hype with this film.

2/5

 

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