I am a huge fan of the monumental account by the Greek classical author and accomplished soldier Xenophon, that told the story of 10,000 Greek mercenary soldiers who were led by Cyrus the younger in an attempt to depose his brother Artaxerxes the second, who held the throne of the vast Persian empire. This culminated in the battle of Cunaxa in 401 BC, which took place in far off Mesopatamia, in what is now known as Iraq. When Cyrus was killed and the battle lost, they were forced into an epic march back towards far off Greece, which took them across thousands of miles of hostile terrain, where they fought a continuous bitter rearguard action against the Persians and a host of other strange and blood lusting peoples. It was an almost impossible battle against overwhelming odds, and perhaps the greatest military story ever told. Even today it resonates down the years and strongly influenced Walter Hill's 1979 film "The Warriors".
In the film, nine members of a gang called "The Warriors" attend a meeting by gang leader Cyrus, who tries to unite all the gangs of New York. "Do you dig it". Matters are then complicated when Cyrus is shot and "The Warriors" are blamed. The gang have to make their way back to home turf on Coney Island, but the word is out, and they are hunted by a whole host of weird and wonderful gangs, which resemble the strange peoples that Xenophon and the 10,000 encountered. One lot looked as if they were off of the "Clockwork Orange" set! The film follows the story quite closely as the gangs leader Cleon, Clearchus in the Persian expedition, is killed early on, leaving Swan, yes Xenophon, to lead the gang back home. Other Greek elements are included with a group of deadly female Amazons/sirens tempting our heroes. The most memorable moment in the book is also reenacted when the gang reach the sea. "The Sea, the sea" to famously quote Xenephon himself.
First released in 1979 to moderate success, the film has since attained cult status. Although the film is supposedly set in the future, it is firmly rooted in the New York of the period. The Afro hairstyles, the clothing and the old pre mobile phone boxes do tend to date it. Therefore I found the comic strip inclusions in the style of "Sin City" quite refreshing. It is purely personal taste of course, but I honestly feel it has breathed new life into the film. The film contains an introduction by director Walter Hill, who interestingly says he is against introductions as a film should speak for itself. He does find time to tell us that the film is more or less the vision that he had in mind. I tend to remember Hill as the extremely competent director of the westerns "Geronimo, an American Legend" and "The Long Riders". Tony Scott has announced this year that he will be remaking the film, so lets hope he makes a good job of it! Surprisingly few director's cut films actually improve on the original, but this one manages to succeed. Whilst I don't think this film is the classic some people believe it to be, it does showcase how a good director with vision can make the most of limited resources. Please, please, will someone out there film the story of the 10,000, which is crying out to be told, and not make a botched job of it. Perhaps I am asking too much!