My introduction to The Warriors came from an unlikely source: MTV Cribs. An early episode featured a rapper that I liked. Recent research as to which rapper it was has come up short. I thought it was P. Diddy but it turns out he was never on Cribs. It wasn't Ice-T, I watched the episode just to make sure. It wasn't Snoop Dogg, although he does say "the awards are nice" which sounded a whole lot like "The Warriors are nice." Nevertheless, when it came time to show off his DVD collection, the unnamed artist held up two boxes. First, the obligatory copy of Scarface. Second, a movie I had never heard of. It was to be The Warriors.
He began to sing the praises of the ultimate gang movie. My ears perked up immediately. It turns out that The Warriors has been referenced in numerous films, rap songs, and music videos. One of these just happened to be Craig Mack’s “Flava in Ya Ear (Remix)” video – a staple song of my childhood. The video opens with Puff Daddy clinking two Coke bottles together while singing “Baaaad Boyyyyyy. Come out and plaaayyy.” That image always stuck with me and it wasn’t until I watched The Warriors did I realize where it first came from. More on the Coke bottles later.
Craig Mack – Flava in Ya Ear (Remix) (feat. Notorious B.I.G.)
Apparently, The Warriors was the film that everyone needed to see. A few weeks later, I rented the DVD and soon after that, I had a new favorite movie. For those of you who haven’t seen this yet, do yourselves the favor and Netflix a copy. If possible, try to get the original cut. In 2004, Paramount released a new DVD labeled “The Ultimate Director’s Cut.” Not much about the movie changed except for the addition of some comic book frames serving as interludes between certain scenes. They really take the viewer out of the film. The original cut looks great, sounds great, and doesn’t feature these annoying comic book frames.
For those of you who haven’t ever heard of The Warriors here’s some background of the film.
The Warriors is loosely based on a novel by Sol Yurick which is loosely based on Xenophon’s The Anabasis. The film was written by David Shraber (Nighthawks) and directed by Walter Hill (Streets of Fire, 48 Hrs.) The result of their hard work was one of the most incredible action films of all-time.
The film begins: EXT. CONEY ISLAND – NIGHT. From the moment the music hits, it’s clear that you're in for a hell of a ride. Right away, we start to meet members of The Warriors as they discuss the big meeting in the Bronx. Originally, Walter Hill wanted to cast and all-black gang, but the studio told him "no." The ethnic make-up of the gang turned out mostly white with a couple black members. But even with the cast being mixed-race the most interesting thing about this is their numbers: nine delegates from the Coney Island street force.
One of the most memorable scenes from The Warriors comes at the very beginning. Nine member from various New York gangs are all getting on Subway trains. Here’s where the fun begins; each gang has their own unique characteristics, and believe me, they’re unique. One group appears to be mimes wearing top hats.
Another Chinese gang wears green pointy hats. A quick eye can spot a young Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix) leading a gang suited up in camouflage outfits. Right away, the campiness factor sets in. For those of you who turn away at the sight of camp, this isn't the movie for you. In fact, this isn't the blog for you.
Roger Hill as Cyrus
The film really takes off at the awe-inspiring “Cyrus scene.” All of the gangs show up at the big meeting, Cyrus' meeting. Everyone reading this needs to realize that this film was shot in 1979, way before CGI was commonplace. Take that into consideration when you see the hundreds and hundreds of extras all wearing different gang outfits. The camera moves through them and we catch glimpses of Puerto Rican gangs, skinhead gangs, and once again, the Hi-Hats donning their top hats and white mime makeup. You can watch this scene over and over again, each time you’ll find a new gang wearing some crazy gang colors.The crowd falls silent once Cyrus begins to speak. The following scene can’t be done justice in text.
If the title of my blog hasn’t spoiled anything by now…well, maybe you haven’t been paying enough attention. Here’s the exciting part! Hundreds of miles from home, the Warriors only have one goal in mind. “We’re gonna have to bop our way back to Coney.” Get home safely. With every gang in the city looking for them, the guys will have to cross turf after turf, territory after territory.
I really enjoy the episodic format that Hill uses. There doesn’t seem to be a moment to rest. Each time it seems that they’re in the clear, here comes something else they’ve got to deal with. From subway fires to violent police officers, Swan, Ajax, Cowboy, Rembrandt, Cochise, The Fox, Snowball, and Vermin, are forced to do what is necessary to make it back to “C.I. - The Big Coney.” Once the group splits up, their obstacles multiply. Without any knowledge of their friends’ wellbeing, each Warrior is forced to look out for number one. I’ve always been a big fan of films that feature ensemble casts. I enjoy having lots of stories to follow all at once. The Warriors is one of these films. Intercutting between four groups of gang members (along with various supportive characters), Hill keeps the pace quick and the stories tight.
The only time the film slows down is when Swan decides to get it on with Mercy, a young Latina woman he met along the way, in a subway tunnel. I don't know where to start with this one.
There's so much more I could write about my favorite movie. I could mention the rumors of a Tony Scott remake or go on and on about the video game, not to mention the action figures.
I also wanted to thank The Warriors Web Site for being the most amazing Warriors website in existence. Most of the pictures on this post are from there and they're just the best. Go check them out.
Oh yeah, I also realized that I promised to talk about the Coke bottles some more. But you're just gonna have to go rent the movie if you want to see what that's all about.
In short, comments are great, but at least vote in the poll question. Thanks to all you Boppers out there.