Blog Directory CineVerse: CineVersary: Warriors, come out and play again

CineVersary: Warriors, come out and play again

Thursday, August 13, 2009

by Erik J. Martin

Back in the late ’70s, before modern day gang menaces like the Crips and the Latin Kings ruled the urban roost, law‑abiding citizens cowered in terror before outlaw cliques like the face‑painted and Louisville Slugger wielding Baseball Furies and the chic chick muscle of the all‑girl Lizzies.

At least that’s what the laudable though sometimes laughable cult favorite "The Warriors"--released 30 years ago--had us believing.

These are the armies of the night. They are ten thousand strong. They outnumber the cops five to one. They could run New York City. Tonight, they are all out to get The Warriors.

That, in a blackjack’s crack, is the premise for the film, which stars Michael Beck as Swan, leader of the leather‑vested interracial brood who, at a New York gang convention, are falsely accused of shooting Cyrus, the hood overlord who had proposed an intergang truce for the purpose of a unified hooligan march against the Big Apple.

The nine‑man Warriors’ do‑or‑die mission? Get back to their Coney Island crib alive and expose Cyrus’ real killer, Luther, The Rogues’ reckless big daddy, who utters the movie's most memorable sing‑song line: “Warriors, come out and play‑i‑ay.”

Upon its release in 1979, The Warriors generated plenty of boxoffice bucks, as well as its share of controversy. Gang activity erupted at theaters, leaving several viewers dead and resulting in protests of Paramount’s film and an unsuccessful lawsuit levied against the studio.

Though The Warriors’ overscripted street jive and bell‑bottomed and bandana afroed overall look hasn’t exactly aged well (director/writer Walter Hill originally wanted the gang to be all black, but the producers over-ruled him), the film’s stylish comic book-like look, creative editing and carefully choreographed fight scenes add an artistic credibility that is hard to deny.

Add to these plusses an infectious underdog‑against‑the‑underbelly script that validates the flick’s campy closing lines, delivered by the Riffs’ head cheese: “You Warriors are good. Real good.”

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