“Can you dig it!” Talk about a film that’s still as special now as the first day of my teenage life. The following nostalgic waffle will be about that cult classic gangbanger, The Warriors. Did it influence my life? Well I never had the urge to buy a maroon leather waist coat if that’s what you mean! Didn’t need to get gang colours painted for all to see. I’m a Lone Wolf you see. I guess on a practical level it taught me to run from barbaric looking gangs of lanky bone heads and dodgy looking death buses filled with crazed thugs. To keep away from dungaree wearing pansy ass punks hanging around toilet blocks! To stop and stand up against a bunch of face painted weirdo’s waving baseball bats. “I’m sick of runnin’ from these wimps anyhow!” Thinking about it, the film probably saved my life a bunch of times. Taught me to be wary of sweet looking girls asking to take this furry hunk home. Only to try and kiss me with razors and stab me up with switchblades. “Shit! The chicks are packed! The chicks are packed!“. Honestly there was probably countless times the teaching of The Warriors helped keep me alive and kicking. Even on a lesser note, I learnt to never miss a train!
Before I get too carried away I must point out this review is part of our collective four. The Video Star Action Heroes. Another mission mash up of four like-minded buddies from across a virus infected world. Four film reviews centered around one subject. This time sharing our video rental memories of films by the legendary Walter Hill. As you can imagine I nearly feel off my chair. It was destiny, I’d been wanting to write about the The Warriors since the beginning of my film site……… Anyway first things first. Here’s what the boys have chosen.
Todd over at Cinema Monolith gets caught up in the Louisiana swamps in Southern Comfort (1981)
Mike’s Take On The Movies goes Cold War cop buddy movie with Red Heat (1988)
Greg’s Destroy All Fanboys site tackles motorcycle gangs in music mash up Street of Fire (1984)
And as you know already I went for Walter Hill’s classic New York City gang meet up gone a little wrong, The Warriors. A chase to the death movie!
I’d first watched The Warriors at the beginning of December 1984. I remember it well, it was my thirteenth birthday. The story of that day is a fable of true legends. My Dad was one. Another was a kid who will remain nameless. One that shouted out in blind panic “I didn’t know they could move like that!” Yes that infamous story as told here in the The Case Of The Moving Panties! It was the day that involved inviting 20 odd school friends to my film night party. Three films. Rambo First Blood (1982) Emmanuelle (1974) (Yeap that’s where my Dad gained legend status, see link above) and thirdly, The Warriors (1979).
Tagline – These are the Armies of The Night. They are 60,000 strong. They outnumber the cops three to one. They could run New York City. Tonight they’re all out to get The Warriors.
News of a midnight summit meeting in the heart of the Bronx district of New York spread out across the City. It was a meeting like no other. An unimaginable idea. An invite that stretched out to all known gangs. However big or small. Reaching out to every corner of the City.
The most powerful gang, the formidable Gramercy Riffs have ordered a truce between all gangs during the meeting. Their war chief, Cyrus (Roger Hill) had a plan so audacious and fearless that if it worked, it would mean the complete control of the City. To have all gangs unite in an alliance, to stand firm together. The pure multitude of soldiers would outnumber the police three to one.
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?“
Out on the fringes of Coney Island was a tough gang going by the name The Warriors. Led by warlord leader Cleon (Dorsey Wright). They ran their turf with an iron fist but outside they were pretty unknown. Cleon liked the idea of the invitation. A 30 mile trip to represent their area and see what this Cyrus had to say. Besides he had Rembrandt (Marcelino Sánchez) to tag The Warriors logo all across the City.
Cleon – “Rembrandt, you got the stuff? I want you to hit everything in the city. I want the people to know that The Warriors were there.”
Besides………. What’s the worse that could happen?
Cyrus preaches his word to the masses. Everyone listens. He could actually pull this off. Cyrus continues his war cry “Can you dig it?” The whole crowd is with him. Police surround the gathering. Cyrus calls out again “Can you dig it?“. Then BANG! a single shot is fired. Cyrus is dead. Panic starts to form. The police raid. The gangs run. But before the chaos there’s a gimp of a man. A slime ball misfit called Luther (David Patrick Kelly). The psychotic leader of The Rogues had just had an urge to waste Cyrus! “No reason. I just… like doing things like that!“. What better way to pass the assassination away from him than to blame another gang.
Luther – “There he is! That’s him! That’s… the Warrior! He shot Cyrus! The Warriors did it! The Warriors did it!“
During the confusion and stampede Luther makes sure Cleon is set-up for the murder. Right in the heart of The Gramercy Riffs. With the death of their leader bleeding out on the ground and this wailing lunatic calling out The Warriors as the killers. The Riffs take action and beat innocent Cleon to death. Masai (Dennis Gregory) is now in charge. With one mission. To get those responsible and deliver vengeance.
Masai – “I want them all! I want ALL The Warriors! I want them alive, if possible. If not, wasted! But I want them. Send the word!“
Now the chase of death starts. The Warriors desperately need to make their way back home to Coney Island. The gang is split in half running for their lives. Every gang in New York City after them. The police on every subway car and station. The smooth, jiving, voice of the sultry DJ (Lynne Thigpen) narrates the scene across the airways.
DJ – “All right now, for all you boppers out there in the big city, all you street people with an ear for the action, I’ve been asked to relay a request from the Gramercy Riffs. It’s a special for the Warriors, that real live bunch from Coney, and I do mean the Warriors. Here’s a hit with them in mind.“
She plays the soundtrack as our heroes run. Every gang in the City baying for their blood. They have to negotiate their away home. Running through blocks, neighborhoods, across parks and train tracks. Gangs like the Turnbull AC’s, The Baseball Furies, The Lizzies, The Boppers, The Savage Huns, Satans Mothers, The Electric Eliminators, The Orphans and of course the biggest baddest gang of them all, The Gramercy Riffs. The DJ puts the needle on the record. “Be looking good warriors all the back to Coney you hear me babys….reaaal good!” Martha Reeves and the Vandellas starts to play……….
Nowhere to run to, baby, nowhere to hide
Got nowhere to run to, baby, nowhere to hide
So who are The Warriors?
Cleon (Dorsey Wright) “Fox, you’re the scout and memory-man. You run ahead and tell us all we need to know. Cochise and Ajax, you soldier the middle. The rest, you’re the heavy muscle…“
Swan (Michael Beck) “Why don’t you just tie a mattress to your back? You don’t care where it is, do you?“
Ajax (James Remar) “I’ll shove that bat up your ass and turn you into a Popsicle”
Cochise (David Harris) “Magic… whole lotta magic.“
Cowboy (Tom McKitterick) “Those cats didn’t look too chicken-shit to me.“
Vermin (Terry Michos) “If it ain’t, we’re gonna have to bop our way back!“
Snow (Brian Tyler) “We’re going like everybody else: nine guys, no weapons.“
Fox (Thomas G. Waites) “We’re not going to hide who we are just because some whore shakes her ass..“
Rembrandt (Marcelino Sánchez) “Shit! The chicks are packed! The chicks are packed!“
Mercy (Deborah Van Valkenburgh) Coming along for the ride! “Yeah, that’s right, Warriors. Just keep walkin’. Real tough muthas, ain’t ya? You guys don’t show me much. Why don’t you dickheads just walk all the way back home, huh?“
The Warriors wrap up.
The Warriors had such an impact on my life. I’ve watched it countless times. Still it excites and thrills each and every time I put it on. Walter Hill always delivers on his films. Just look at the films he made in the beginning of his career. Hard Times (1975), The Driver (1978), The Warriors (1979), The Long Riders (1980), Southern Comfort (1981), 48 Hrs (1982), Streets Of Fire (1984), Brewster’s Millions (1985), Crossroads (1986), Extreme Prejudice (1987), Red Heat (1988), Johnny Handsome (1989), Another 48 Hrs (1990)
There’s no doubt that The Warriors is by far my favourite and I’ve already introduced to my son a few years back. Now it will be my daughters time and another reason to sit down and be entertained by one of the master directors of action movies. I salute Walter Hill. Thank you.
I could keep writing for days about this beloved movie but I gotta stop somewhere. I hope you’ve enjoy this nostalgic look back. Be sure to check out the rest of the Video Store Action Heroes reviews.
Thank you as always for taking the time to read my scribbles. I do very much appreciate it and please feel free to let me know your thoughts of the The Warriors and any of Walter Hills films if you wish. Oh and just in case you thought I had forgot!!
“Waaaarrrrrriiiorsss, come out to pla-ay!“
Happy vibes from me, Mikey Wolfman. Keep watching the screens.
PS This is a little gem if you haven’t already seen it.