Tuesday, March 8, 2011
CAN YOU DIG IT???????? Yes, I can. But Cyrus, the asker of this question, wasn’t asking me. He was asking the gangs of New York City at the truce he pulled together that was supposed to be weapon-free. But if that went as planned, we’d have no movie.
The Warriors, a total gem from 1979, is the dark and stormy tale of the title gang, falsely accused of murder, trying to make their way home without getting knocked off by their rival gangs, who have all banded together this once to wipe them out. They begin in the Bronx, at the foiled gang summit, and have to make it, any way they can, to Coney Island, slipping by their enemies, both the gangs and the police, every step of the way. Doesn’t work every time.
This is dirty New York, one that has been largely wiped out in favor of towering glass and pink brick. We are treated to secret meetings under the bridge, fights (beautifully directed) in filthy bathrooms, and the most whiny-voiced gang leader of all time, The Rogues’ psychotic Luther. “Waaaarriors….come out to plaaayyyyyaaaaaayyyyy.” CREEP CITY. Upping the ante for our title boys even more is the unseen but for her mouth radio announcer who gets updates on their travails and sends them out over the airwaves so the Warriors know where they stand.
The image most seared into my brain from The Warriors is the sequence that introduces us to the gangs as they approach the truce. No bandannas here. These gangs are in full costume, be it leather vests, overalls, or baseball uniforms, bat included. There is something undeniably powerful about it, but also terrifying.
Director Walter Hill has managed to combine the right amounts of stark drama and pulpy thrills into a cult favorite. Those men in the pinstripes and cleats? Those are not your friends.