In 1979, The Warriors
seemed like a frighteningly realistic possible future for The Big Apple. The film's depiction of multiple street gangs no longer content with occupying their own territories was an uncomfortably real issue across New York City. A deceptively simple plot begins with a truce gathering representatives from all the gangs at a meeting. Would-be leader Cyrus has a vision. Unfortunately a member of the Rogues shoots him before we learn what it is, and then pins the blame on the Warriors. With anything up to 60,000 gang soldiers and 20,000 police on their trail, the seven Warrior members beat a hasty retreat any which way they can back to Coney Island. What's really going on, as per Sol Yurick's original novel, is a subtle examination of the seemingly contradictory traits of loyalty and nobility that occur in a close-knit group. Explosions of violence and a disregard for bystanders are secondary to what the characters mean to one another. All this brotherly love is presented with some truly amazing production design and cinematography: though dark, this is a world of colourful night-lights and even more colourful gang uniforms. Historically, this is a movie way past its sell-by date (it certainly won't instigate real life violence now as it did when released), but thematically it remains a worthy exploration of all those unspoken codes of honour.
On the DVD: This is a good movie to test the dark end of the spectrum. It's in 1.78:1 and only in mono, but that somehow works for what's little more than a lot of running around in the dark. The only extra is the original trailer.--Paul Tonks
A street gang is blamed unfairly for a rival gang leader's death and must fight its way home to Coney Island from the Bronx.