Words: Kate Pinchuck
A graphic novel come to life
The Warriors is a cult classic. Critics absolutely hated it when it was released in 1979 (not least because people kept getting beaten up on their way to and from the cinema), but now it’s become a fan favourite with a cult following.
The movie begins with a massive meeting between all the gangs of New York City. Cyrus, the leader of the Gramercy Riffs proposes truce between the gangs, which will result in a mass takeover of the city. Unfortunately, as he is iconically shouting, “Can you dig it?!”, the leader of the Rogues assassinates him. This is blamed on The Warriors, who are dressed like strange inner-city cowboys with pleather waistcoats. With everyone out to get them, they have to make it back to their territory in Coney Island.
Cue a lot of running, jumping and fighting, and very, very many scenes on the subway.
The film is something like a graphic novel come to life, overly stylized and with plenty of dramatic staring into the distance. I’m still not sure if it’s cheesy on purpose. Seeing all the different gangs is by far the highlight of the film. If only gangs dressed like this in reality, I think we would be more inclined to like them.
My favourites are The Baseball Furies, who are dressed in full baseball gear, with the perfect weapon of choice. Other great gangs are The Boppers, a group from Harlem with shiny purple waistcoats; The Hi-Hats, who are literally dressed like mimes; and The Rogues, whose outfits resemble those of strippers pretending to be policemen.
The soundtrack is fantastic, dripping with synth, just before the 80s ruined it. The songs are introduced by a disembodied pair of red lips belonging to a gorgeous radio DJ, as she sends The Warriors messages from the other gangs through their chosen tracks.
The film is actually based on a book of the same name, which in turn was, strangely, inspired by an ancient Greek war story. The Anabasis, by Xenophon, tells the tale of the 10 000, Greek mercenaries led by Cyrus the younger, going to claim the throne of Persia from his brother. They won the war, but since Cyrus was killed in the process, it was rendered a futile victory. Trapped in enemy territory, they had to fight their way back to the safety of the coast. In the end, they made it and so do (most of ) The Warriors.
The film culminates in one of the best face-offs in movie history, giving us the classic line, “Warriors, come out to play-ay”. This film is wildly entertaining and features the most outrageously dressed gangs of all time. So do yourself a favour, and check it out.