the warriors

The Warriors: Director’s cut – can you dig it?

Film

Ok, it’s a film that first came out in 1979. Why on earth am I reviewing it? Well, I picked up the Director’s Cut version and had this vague, misty memory of watching parts of the original when I was a little lad. I remember Cyrus (the gang leader) and his monologue. It defines the film so it’s hard to forget. Here’s a snippet from IMDb, I couldn’t resist!

Cyrus: [yelling] Can you count, suckers? I say, the future is ours… if you can count!
[a couple of soldiers cheer for Cyrus]
Cyrus: Now, look what we have here before us. We got the Saracens sitting next to the Jones Street Boys. We’ve got the Moonrunners right by the Van Cortlandt Rangers. Nobody is wasting nobody. That… is a miracle. And miracles is the way things ought to be.
[Few more soldiers cheering for Cyrus]
Cyrus: You’re standing right now with nine delegates from 100 gangs. And there’s over a hundred more. That’s 20,000 hardcore members. Forty-thousand, counting affiliates, and twenty-thousand more, not organized, but ready to fight: 60,000 soldiers! Now, there ain’t but 20,000 police in the whole town. Can you dig it?
Gang Members: Yeah.
the warriors film 1979
Cyrus: Can you dig it?
Gang Members: Yeah!
Cyrus: Can you dig it?
Gang Members: YEAH!

So what’s it all about?
I vaguely remember the premise, a gang racing back across town to Coney Island whilst all the other gangs across the city are out to get them, falsely blaming the Warriors for the death of their city leader, Cyrus. Other than that I can’t remember much about it. So it’s pretty much with fresh, adult eyes that I viewed Walter Hill’s Director’s Cut.

It starts with an intro from Walter Hill, discussing why he is generally against Directors revisiting their past work. All the claims that they ‘didn’t have the budget/time/script they wanted’ to really tell the story as they intended he addresses. He then gives a fairly detailed explanation of why he felt he wanted to give the film more of a graphic novel aesthetic. You wonder if this is entirely true, but throughout the film it freeze frames and shots of the characters became like graphic drawings, before moving into the next scene, then morphing back into the real world again. It’s a nice touch and you feel the time was taken to make this look slick, but still fit the tone of the film.

You also get the sense that, given the popularity of films adapted from graphic novels these days, it could be argued the Director and/or Studio are trying to cash in? I don’t buy that, I think Walter Hill loved the story and characters and just wanted to present the version he originally intended. And these days, with HD TVs and Blu-ray, there hasn’t been a better time to do it.

the warriorsSpeaking of tone, it’s also worth mentioning date. This was released in 1979, yet still feels effortlessly cool and not particularly dated (other than perhaps some of the hairstyles). There isn’t too much in the way of story, yet the film has strong characters you can identify with, even their steely leader Swan.

The gangs they face as they race across town are almost comical, yet some fit into the Warriors’ world – The Orphans, Baseball Furies, Turnbull ACs, Lizzie’s, Punks, Rogues and Riffs. Check them out here, they all have their own logos and brand identity, it’s fantastic.

Anyway, as usual I’m rambling along, let’s sum up. It may be a cult film, a classic, it may be from the tail end of the 70s, but it’s definitely worth a watch. Whether you remember the original or not, it’s just a pretty cool world to embrace.

The question is – you know where this is going – can you dig it?

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