A battle of gigantic proportions is looming in the neon underground of New York City. The armies of the night number 100,000; they outnumber the police 5 to 1; and tonight they're after the Warriors - a street gang blamed unfairly for a rival gang leader's death. This contemporary action-adventure story takes place at night, underground, in the sub-culture of gang warfare that rages from Coney Island to Manhattan to the Bronx. Members of the Warriors fight for their lives, seek to survive in the urban jungle and learn the meaning of loyalty. This intense and stylized film is a dazzling achievement for cinematographer Andrew Laszlo.
The Warriors combines pure pulp storytelling and surprisingly poetic images into a thoroughly enjoyable cult classic. The plot is mythically pure (and inspired by a legendary bit of Greek history): When a charismatic gang leader is shot at a conclave in the Bronx meant to unite all the gangs in New York City, a troupe from Coney Island called the Warriors get blamed and have to fight all the way back to their own turf--which means an escalating series of battles with colorful and improbable gangs like the Baseball Furies, who wear baseball uniforms and KISS-inspired face make-up. Pop existentialism, performances that are somehow both wooden and overwrought, and zesty, kinetic filmmaking from director Walter Hill (Southern Comfort, 48 Hrs.) result in a delicious and unexpectedly resonant operatic cheesiness. The Ultimate Director's Cut doesn't radically alter the movie--some of the editing is tighter, the Greek legend has been added as an introduction--with one exception: in transitions, scenes begin and end as scenes from a comic book. While The Warriors always had a comic book flavor (and Hill, in an interview, says he deliberately pursued that sensibility), this device--similar to The Hulk--seems a bit overkill. But it's a minor problem; the movie holds its own, even 26 years later. The dvd has no audio commentary, but there are four short documentaries (really, one documentary in four parts). These include excellent interviews with Hill, actors Michael Beck, James Remar, David Patrick Kelly, and Deborah Van Valkenburgh. The producers, the cinematographer, the costume designer, the stunt coordinator, and many others give lively and in-depth descriptions of how the movie came to be. One of these documentaries includes portions of a deleted scene that was used when The Warriors was screened on television; no other deleted scenes are included. --Bret Fetzer