The best way to describe The Warriors is a longer version of the news teams’ battle in Anchorman in the world of A Clockwork Orange. Now, I’ve said it before and I’ll say again that I’m not a fan of Kubrick’s 1971 classic, but I am a fan of the news team riot in Anchorman, and as long as we’re being honest, it’s a pretty spectacular and quotable comedy. The Warriors is like Scorsese’s Gangs of New York for low budget action films, and while it isn’t anything that I would cite as a piece of masterful cinema, it is one of those old cult hits that provide genuine fun and interesting thrills some years later.
Released in 1979 and based on Walter Hill’s 1965 novel, The Warriors is a film about power, but not in a conceited and self-glorifying kind of way. It tells the story of a number of street gangs that have converged to discuss the possibility of a truce that would allow all of the gangs to control the city. But one gang doesn’t want to share, and this particular gang is the one that decides to shoot the speaker at the engagement. But they don’t take the blame. No, they place that on the Warriors, our group of protagonists that roam the city for the rest of the film and try to evade capture, causing them to intrude on other gangs’ territories, sometimes by a welcome hand, and sometimes not.
This group isn’t particularly identical to the droogs in A Clockwork Orange and that is largely due to the fact that they are, for better or for worse, characters that we root for. I never rooted for Alex and his merry men in Orange because Kubrick never really intended for us too (I still don’t think it redeems the movie’s outlandish depictions of rape and violence). That being said, just because we root for the characters driving the film doesn’t mean that they are more interesting characters. Even though I’m not a fan of Orange, Alex DeLarge is a more memorable character than anyone in this one. Michael Beck portrays the lead character Swan, but nothing is really standout in terms of technicality like other films like it.
The movie overstays its welcome, even at a mere hour and a half, but it is a fun time and it contains some fun chase sequences and a concealed message of power. It never realizes that message as well as it could, but for what it is, it’s decent fun.
1 hr. 33 mins.
Starring Michael Beck
Written by David Shraber and Walter Hill
Directed by Walter Hill