Movies To See Before You Die: The Warriors
“Can You Dig It?!”
The Warriors travel to a midnight meeting for all the New York Area Gangs. Cyrus – leader of the most powerful gang, The Gramercy Riffs – plans on calling a city-wide truce for all the gangs when he is shot dead by Luther – the leader of The Rouges. Luther blames the shooting on The Warriors who escape and have to battle their way through various neighborhood gangs to get back to their turf, Coney Island.
The Warriors was adapted from a novel of the same name by author Sol Yurick. Producer Lawrence Gordon acquired the film rights in the mid-1970’s and had it adapted into a screenplay, which was then sent to Hill. Hill loved the story, but thought no one would ever allow it to be made considering the amount of violence it contained. The origin of The Warriors story actually stretches back to ancient Greece, and is loosely based on Xenophon’s “Anabasis” – an ancient Greek story about 10,000 soldiers who have to fight their way through the Persian Empire to get back home.
The Warriors was cast with mostly unknowns gathered from an extensive search throughout New York City. Michael Beck, who plays the cool headed leader, Swan, was cast based off an earlier role he had in the film, Madman. James Remar plays the imprudent Ajax in one of his first roles; Remar has gone on to an extensive career in both film and television. David Patrick Kelly is fantastic as the crazy over-the-top Luther; later flicks in his career include The Crow, Commando, and 48 Hours.
The crew faced numerous issues during filming because they were often on the turf of actual, real gangs. Crew members were sent death threats because some local gangs weren’t cast. Even thousands of dollars worth of equipment was damaged when one gang tore through the set during a lunch break. The Homicides – a real Coney Island gang – didn’t approve of fictional gangs wearing colors on their turf, so nobody was allowed to walk off location wearing The Warriors colors.
The astounding costume design from Bobbie Mannix and Mary Ellen Winston is one of the things that set this flick apart. Throughout the movie, we see new and interesting gangs, each with a matching theme. Some of these gangs – like mimes and pimps with matching purple vests – are only seen for a brief moment in the opening credits, but they are still expertly crafted. My favorite is The Furies: a baseball bat-wielding major league team from hell with a touch of KISS make-up
There are several shots in The Warriors that are nothing short of beautiful, like the opening shot of The Wonder Wheel, our introduction to the gangs, and the ominous, seemingly desolate neighborhoods throughout the movie. This is all backed up by an eerie, synthesizer-rich score from composer Barry DeVorzon.
The violence and subject matter in The Warriors is pretty tame by today’s standards, but it was controversial at the time of its release. The original tagline on the poster was “These are the armies of the night. They are 100,000 strong. They outnumber the cops five to one. They could run New York City.” This scared the general public into thinking that gangs were going to take over their cities when they saw it. Paramount Pictures even had it temporarily pulled from several theaters after some screenings incited real-life violence. Other theaters hired security guards while it was screening, and some just refused to show it at all.
More than 35 years after its release, The Warriors is still a uniquely stylized treat. The dark and gritty world of the film still manages to please not only the film’s legion of cult followers, but new viewers as well. Former President Ronald Reagan was even a fan of the film, and once phoned star Michael Beck to tell him he had screened it at Camp David and enjoyed it.
Should The Warriors Get A Remake?
Tony Scott was working on a remake of The Warriors from 2005-2010. He had mentioned as far back as 2005 that the script was finished and that the tone was going to be similar to his then new movie “Domino”. Scott’s idea was to move the Story to LA and update it a modern day chase story using real LA gangs. Scott could never seem to get The Warriors pushed out to production. Unfortunately, we lost Tony Scott in 2012 when he unexpectedly committed suicide by jumping off the Vincent Thomas Bridge. Oddly enough, this was a location he had wanted to shoot a major scene for The Warriors remake. His style would have been perfect for an updated version of the film.
The remake has largely been forgotten about in Hollywood. If they tried to remake it now, it would most likely end up being a post-apocalyptic movie in the style of recent flicks like The Road or The Book of Eli. The opening gathering of all the gangs, as well as the locations and makeup, would likely be “digitally enhanced” – losing what made the original so unique. Maybe with the right director, a remake could be something worth exploring. I could see Alfonso Cuarón or Neill Blomkamp doing something fun with the story.
What’s your opinion on The Warriors? Is it something you would like to see remade, and if so, by who? Sound off in the comments below, and thanks for reading!