Walter Hill’s The Warriors

Today I watched Walter Hill’s The Warriors (1979)


The titular Warriors are one of New York’s many colourful street gangs in a dystopian near future overrun with wayward youth.  They have gathered to hear the revolutionary Cyrus speak at a park on the other side of town, but when Cyrus is assassinated blame falls upon the warriors and they must high tail it back to safe territory at Coney Island.  This is a film that certainly celebrates being on the wrong side of the law, which may rub some audiences the wrong way, but I find it interesting how this film explores the lives of people in a dystopian society without exploring the nature of the dystopia, and this is most certainly made possible by the character’s existing in the underworld.

This is a very stylish action/thriller that delivers a roller coaster of exciting scenes and sequences. Despite the main characters spending most of the film running away, it manages to be very entertaining. There is great use of sound design and score which weaves an exciting atmosphere, cross this with the visual design, which perfectly captures urban decay, and you get a really well realized world for the roller coaster to crash through.  What makes the violence stand up to films with more elaborate and brutal choreography is the sense of realism imparted by the film, mainly with the aforementioned capturing of urban decay, but also will well directed performances from a mostly amateur cast.

As a counter cultural power fantasy this film is a masterpiece, it’s colourful design and charismatic characters are infectiously fun.  While this film has suffered from the many references made to it throughout pop culture it still holds up as a good film in its own right and is much less goofy than much of it’s reputation may lead one to believe.  And the most goofy aspects, when put in context, actually come across as pretty scary in the film itself.  Though I do think some of the colourful dialogue goes a little too far (even for 1979 standards) it is still a worthy cult classic. 5/5

While it says this is the official trailer, the music sounds incredibly similar to Tangerine Dream’s soundtrack to the William Friedkin film Sorcerer, probably is.


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