Today, we begin another month of reader suggestions. This is where friends, family, coworkers, and even maybe a few fans throw a title out there that they would suggest I watch. The main reason is to catch up on great movies that I've missed over the years, and I had a good time with it a few months ago, so I figure this is going to be a relatively regular thing. No names will be mentioned throughout the process, but you'll know your suggestion when it pops up. This one is for a lifelong friend of mine, and huge supporter of the site.
For a "movie guy", it's actually pretty amazing how much I've missed out on over the years. Some titles falling under that category are titles I surprise myself with, and 'The Warriors' has been under that category for quite some time. Truth be told, the only, and I mean only thing I ever knew about this movie was that it was a street gang related story where some guy clinks beer bottles and utters the famous sing-song line of "Waarrioors, come out to plaayaay". It's a creepy-ass scene, but it was never enough to draw me in completely, without knowing the rest. But now that I have finally seen it, I just regret holding off for so damn long.
Our story centers on gangs of New York City in 1979, that really seem to reflect the gritty side of New York street life in the 80s (it was like they knew what they had). Leader of the Gramercy Riffs, Cyrus (Roger Hill) calls a midnight summit, requesting nine unarmed representatives from each gang. He proposes a city-wide truce among the gangs, as together, they outnumber the cops by a significant amount. Together, they could take back the streets, and most of the gangs cheer. But when Luthor, leader of the Rogues, shoots Cyrus, he pegs the murder on Cleon, leader of the Warriors. Chaos ensues, and most of the Warriors escape, but a hit on the Warriors is put out over the radio, and soon it turns into survival for them.
Although the film came out to critical ridicule upon its release, it has since become a cult classic reflection of the times. Some of the cult draw may have to do with the idea of it being a rare film with a violent history upon its release. Our version of that might be 'The Dark Knight Rises', which involved a massive theatrical shooting in Aurora, Colorado. 'The Warriors' was linked to acts of vandalism and three murders between showings the week following its release. Paramount pulled all advertising, theater owners were allowed out of their contractual obligation to show it, and security personnel were added to at least 200 theaters across America. That doesn't sound like a lot now, but in 1979, that was pretty significant.
Getting back to the movie itself, however, we really just wanna know if I thought it was any good. Well, this movie does what a lot of movies struggle to do, and I admire it every time I see it - well-rounded characters. We have a full gang of main characters here, and the film does a good job at letting us know that while we're routing for them, they're still a tough street gang of New York, and at points you kinda second guess your liking of them. In actuality, they're just the unlikely gang that got framed. There was nothing particularly special about any of them, but in a weird roundabout way, that's what's so good about it. They stay true to who they are supposed to be representing. At no point do you get characters like the goody-goody who says "gee whiz, you guys, I think this is wrong." In short, the movie has balls.
This is one of those "made for men" kinda movies; 1979's version of something like '300' or 'The Expendables', but less about action and more about survival, and holding your turf. There are some relatively uncomfortable moments, but nothing too extreme. It gets as intense as it needs to when it comes to them facing off against other gangs, and you can't really help but get into how original some of the gang ideas are. This is actually quite a creative movie, despite its overall simple plot. And speaking of creative, I did NOT know that Joe Walsh's 'In the City' was written for this movie! Most would know it as being performed by The Eagles, but it's totally Walsh's song. Anyway, it gets bonus points for that, as I am an Eagles fan, and that's a great tune.