Movie Project #10: The Warriors [1979]

The 50 Movies Project: 2013 Edition

In what has become an annual tradition, I have decided to embark in a third round of the 50 Movies Project. The premise is simple — I have put together a list of 50 movies that I feel I absolutely must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. With so many films to see, it’s easy to get off track and forget about some of the essentials. This is my way of making sure I watch those that have been on my “must see” list for too long.

The Warriors [1979]

The Warriors [1979]
Director: Walter Hill
Screenplay: Sol Yurick (novel), David Shaber, Walter Hill
Country: USA
Genre: Action/Thriller
Starring: Michael Beck, James Remar, Dorsey Wright
Running Time: 92 minutes

Reason for inclusion: This is one of the essential cult films I have heard so much about but never seen.

Accolades: Part of the 500 Essential Cult Movies list and the New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made

Warriors, come out to play-i-ay.

One of the great joys in watching film is to finally see a cult classic for the first time. I had heard so much about The Warriors already — I’m sure *everyone* has heard the quote above, right? — but watching it still managed to be fresh and invigorating.

The Warriors takes place in a dystopian version of New York City in which gangs run the streets. It’s a dark, gritty city, and it seems that everything is tagged with graffiti, including the inside and outside of subway trains. The most powerful gang in the city is the Gramercy Riffs, and their leader, Cyrus (Roger Hill), has called a midnight summit of *all* New York area gangs. He requests that every gang sends nine unarmed delegates to meet in the Bronx to hear his proposal. Cyrus calls for a truce so everyone can work together to obtain total control of the city.

The Warriors [1979]

Shit hits the fan when the leader of the Rogues shoots and kills Cyrus, then pins the blame on a member of the Warriors group. Now every single gang member in NYC is out for blood against the Warriors, and the film follows them as they attempt to make it back to their Coney Island stomping grounds in one piece.

“I’ll shove that bat up your ass and turn you into a popsicle.”

The Warriors [1979]

It’s a pretty basic story, but what makes The Warriors so great is its style. This goes for the dangerous NYC wasteland all the way to its colorful cast of characters. The gangs we are introduced to are all memorable and utterly ridiculous at the same time. The Warriors are a shirtless bunch that wear brown pleather vests with a “Warriors” patch on the back. The Orphans — a group of misfits so low on the totem pole that they didn’t even get invited to the summit — wear greasy green shirts and blue jeans, and they are anything but intimidating. My favorite gang? Easily the Baseball Furies, a silent, facepaint-wearing bunch that wears old baseball jersies. Also, who could forget the Boppers — a snazzy-looking group with bright purple hats and vests?

Very few of the characters are even attempted to be fleshed out, but that’s not a problem here. This is a film in which you need to just sit down and enjoy the ride, campy dialogue and all. Taken on these values, The Warriors is a lot of fun. I can dig it.


This film inspired a 2005 video game of the same name. Anyone play it?

33 thoughts on “Movie Project #10: The Warriors [1979]

  1. keith7198 says:

    Really like this movie and I’m glad you did too. It’s definitely a movie of its time but I still like it. The only game I remember was on XBox Live . A side-scrolling fighter that was pretty decent.

  2. The Heretic says:

    Another awesome flick! I remember they came out with an Amiga (I think it was Amiga) game based off of The Warriors.

  3. Jaina says:

    LOVE this film. So glad you’ve included it here. It’s a great cult film which is not only incredibly quotable, but has been referenced in so many other films and TV shows. I ‘got’ so many more references after seeing the film.

    Some of the blatantly racist and homophobic lines crack me up. I wonder if film makers would be able to get away with some of it now without some crazy backlash.

    Recently saw the directors cut of this film. Which essentially is giving it more of the comic book feel that he wanted with some animated panels and the like. Nothing in the story changes, but it’s given the treatment he wanted. Nice additions really.

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      Hi Jaina! That’s awesome that you are such a big fan of this movie. I felt the same way with many of the non-“PC” lines — there’s no way someone could get away with them these days. I’ll have to watch the director’s cut next time I revisit this one. Kind of curious how the comic panels work within the film.

  4. greghorrorshow says:

    Such a good film! I also played the game, thought it was kind of cool as an origin story type affair. Probably very cheap now.

  5. Jules M. says:

    I haven’t seen this one in ages. I remember I saw it one night as a young un’ late night on that show hosted by Joe Bob Briggs… Seems like some great campy b-movie fun. I definitely need to dig this one up. (awful pun actually not intended)

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