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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ancient Greeks in New York., 28 Nov 2010
This review is from: Warriors - Ultimate Director's Cut Edition (1979) [DVD] (DVD)
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. Despite winning the battle Cyrus their paymaster was killed and so they marched back towards far off Greece, which took them across many miles of hostile terrain, where they fought many rearguard action against the Persians and skirmishes with the peoples of varied regions. It was a long and exhausting journey, 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!
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 30 Nov 2010 21:43:59 GMT
With respect you dcan'y have been watching properly. There were nine members not eight. Clean, Swan, Ajax, Vermin, Cowboy, Remrant, Fox, Cochise, Snowball. Cleon the leaderas killed early but Fox, who was killed on the train platform was not a leader and Walter Hill had him killed off because they were always arguing.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Dec 2010 17:32:00 GMT
Bob Salter says:
Thanks Graham. No I wasn't watching properly. My maths has never been very good. Yes you are quite right there were indeed nine gang members. I must admit I was referring to Cyrus as a leader, as in the true story the film is based on, it was he who led the Greeks into battle. But as he was not a member of the gang it was misleading to quote him as a leader. I have amended my review accordingly. I strive to give accurate reviews but with the best of intentions sometimes fall short. I am always happy to have mistakes pointed out so that I can correct them.

Thanks a lot.


Posted on 29 Apr 2011 20:32:11 BDT
DavyA says:
What a cracking review. Tip top stuff.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 May 2011 23:13:08 BDT
Bob Salter says:
Thanks DavyA.

Always nice to get positive feedback. Glad you liked it.



Posted on 24 Feb 2013 10:20:14 GMT
Last edited by the author on 24 Feb 2013 10:21:21 GMT
Weedavie says:
You may love the Anabasis but it must be some time since you read it. The Greeks didn't lose the battle of Cunaxa: they won it but, as Cyrus had been killed, they were now mercenaries without an employer. They didn't cross thousands of miles, more like 1000. They were subject to harrassment on the retreat but the Persians were not a match for the mercenaries in battle - according to Xenophon they'd had no deaths at Cunaxa and only one wounded.
Probably your most outrageous point is describing the people the mercenaries encountered on the journey up-country as "strange and blood lusting". The Greeks were mercenaries who'd learned their trade in the vicious Peloponnesian War. They were smashing and looting their way through a peasant society. Some of the peasants were mountain warriors who did manage some resistance to 10,000 armoured men but that would seem a reasonable reaction.
When the 10,000 reach the Black Sea they consider themselves safe. However it's hard luck on the Greek cities round the sea as they get visited. The second part of Xenophon's account is largely about pure gangster behaviour.
Your review gets full marks for enthusiasm, but you don't seem to have paid much attention to the film or the book. Incidentally, Walter Hill by his parallel with the gang culture seems to have a firmer grip on the Anabasis than you do.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Mar 2014 03:18:53 GMT
Last edited by the author on 7 Mar 2014 08:23:52 GMT
Bob Salter says:
Thanks for your fascinating insight and for correcting my errors. I really should research more rather than rely on my memory and enthusiasm. I last read the Anabasis when I was about 18. A long time ago. I guess a failed expedition equated for a lost battle. But I put my hands up and plead guilty to the charges. I tend to remember the stranger things like how they were drugged by the honey in northern Turkey. Not particularly useful. The trek seemed like thousands of miles reading it! It was a review of schoolboy enthusiasm with some schoolboy errors. I have to my embarassment amended the errors in question. On re-reading, blood lusting was certainly a bit OTT. Hopefully scholars of history will not go too hard on me. I tend to try and research history reviews more these days rather than rely on memory. Alas I am no scholar just someone who is genuinely interested in history. Sadly I have not covered myself in glory with this one! It is sad, as is so often the case, when the heroes of your childhood turn out to have feet of clay! To be honest if I was going to lie about reading the book, as some people might infer from your comments, then I would simply have used Wikipedia and got the facts right!

Regards Bob.
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Location: Wiltshire, England

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