The major New York gangs declare a truce so they can meet in the Bronx. When a gang leader is killed at the meeting The Warriors from Coney Island are wrongly fingered for it. The truce is off and home is a long train ride away.
Michael Beck ... Swan
James Remar ... Ajax
Dorsey Wright ... Cleon
Brian Tyler ... Snow
David Harris ... Cochise
Tom McKitterick ... Cowboy
Marcelino Sánchez ... Rembrandt (as Marcelino Sanchez)
Terry Michos ... Vermin
Deborah Van Valkenburgh ... Mercy
Roger Hill ... Cyrus
David Patrick Kelly ... Luther
Lynne Thigpen ... D.J.
Ginny Ortiz ... Candy Store Girl
Mercedes Ruehl ... Policewoman
John Snyder ... Gas Station Man
I was working in a movie theater when The Warriors first came out, and remember well the flick and the hype surrounding it. Here's a few notes to clear up some misconceptions that many other commentors seem to have.
The flick was NOT ever intended to be an accurate portrayal of New York gang life, although there were some realistic elements. At the time it was generally accepted that it took place in the future, although nothing in the movie supports this. At best it can be considered an urban fable that takes place in a sort-of-imaginary world. You know, like Pulp Fiction (you think 90s LA gangsters dressed like that??).
Second, the film itself was not accused of inciting violence. Problem was, it was a VERY popular film with gang members, who would show up in force. Two rival gangs would show up at the same theater, and... you can figure the rest out yourself. One guy was killed on the first weekend the movie was playing in New York; after that, the distributor hired off-duty police for security at every theater across the country that showed the flick. In the small-town Midwest where I lived, this served more as advertising hype than anything else.
Finally, it was widely known back in the day that The Warriors was based on the ancient Greek nonfiction tale Anabasis, written around 370 BC by the Spartan general Xenophon (it's also published under the title The Persian Expedition). In this classic tale, a battalion of 10,000 Spartan mercenaries join the Persian emperor Cyrus for a war in Asia Minor (i.e. Turkey). Cyrus's army is defeated, the Spartan leaders are captured, and the remaining force must make their way across country, fighting various hostile tribes along the way, experiencing their own internal power struggles, until they reach the safety of the sea. I'm shocked that only one reviewer seemed to be familiar with this; in the 70s almost nobody talked about the movie without mentioning it.
Great flick, by the way, and it holds up extremely well over time. I'm sure the remake will suck.
I remember catching a glimpse of The Warriors at the video section back in the 80's when I had a local WHSmith near where I lived.
I'll never forget the impression I got when I first viewed the image of a swarm of gangs having a near monopoly over the entire square.
When I finally got round to watching this film, I was left totally speechless after the end credits. Everything seemed totally original and above all else unique considering it was so well ahead of it's time, what-with the gangs from all five points of New York (hence Gangs of New York), and the various names each possessed (i.e. Garamercy Riffs, Boppers, Lizzies, Punks, Turnball A.C.'s, Rogues and The Orphans).
What's better is the fact that the film has held up so well after 25 years and still remains a major old school classic amongst many film enthusiasts.
My only complaint about the Warriors though, are the main leads and why so few of them managed to maintain any recognition after the film's success?
Michael Beck who portrays the tough but calm leader Swan, deserved much better as I'm sure he he would've knocked up some pretty cool roles today as well as actors like Brian Tyler and Tom McKitterick (Snow and Cowboy) who were sadly not seen from after either. What angers me the most is how Hollywood are in negotiations to knock up a remake of The Warriors, I honestly can't see that happening considering the fact that it just won't have the same effect as with movies being made twenty years back when they were made more genuine and well praised with not so much gimmicks being flashed around as today.
I just hope that The Warriors gets a midnight viewing sometime in the near future or perhaps maybe Quentin Tarantino stepping in to do some justice to it like with so many other classic flicks of today.
This is one of my favorite movies of all time. A gang from Coney Island called The Warriors travels to the Bronx for a big gang meeting. Only 9 members of every gang are allowed to attend the meeting, unarmed. Over a hundred gangs show up. The leader of the biggest gang (the Riffs), a guy named Cyrus, plans on uniting all the gangs in the city. His plan is cut short by a bullet when a gang member named Luther shoots him. He quickly blames it on the Warriors, who then have to flee the scene along with the other gangs. Not knowing whether the truce is still on, the Warriors head back to Coney. Along the way, they soon discover that every gang in the city thinks they shot Cyrus, and everyone is after them. They have to make it past the crazy Turnbull ACs, the wimpy Orphans, the menacing Baseball Furies, the charming, all-female crew the Lizzies, the Punks, and finally Luther himself, all while constantly dodging police.
The Warriors is a masterpiece that is simply ahead of it's time. The tense atmosphere of the movie makes for a great viewing. The gangs are comic-book like, the fight scenes are the most realistic I have ever seen in any movie, and it contains tons of catchy lines. It is not a realistic portrayal of gang life in the 70s, and it isn't supposed to be. The whole movie is surreal. It isn't totally believable, but it isn't impossible, and I like that. The casting couldn't be better. And the characters are most memorable. Ajax, the big muscle-head; Swan, the leader; Luther, the insane villain who shot Cyrus for no reason because "he likes doing things like that"; Rembrandt, the new blood; the baseball furies; Mercy, the annoying big-mouthed whore; etc. And to top it all off, the music goes incredibly well with the movie. Very memorable, very exciting, and very worth the viewing. What? You're still here? Go watch it!
The Warriors (1979) was Walter Hill's street gang masterpiece. It's so cheesy and highly entertaining. The Warriors, along with all of the street gangs in the New York City area are invited to a "street gang "convention" headed by the leader of the city's biggest gang Cyrus. Cyrus has a vision, to unite all the gangs and take over the city. Each gang brings their leader and eight "representatives" to the meeting. The film follows the gang with it's main emphasis on the Warriors.
These are no ordinary street gangs. They're as flamboyant as their names. You have gangs of mimes, baseball playing clowns, greaser gangs, rejects from the "Wanderers" (by the way another great film about street gangs), skinheads, kung-fu gangs, a lesbian gang , a redneck gang and one gang that actually "pays" to get on the subway! Despite the movie being filled with cartoonish gangs, this movie took a lot of heat for "glorifying" the gangs and caused major problems with violence amongst the movie going patrons in several cities.
If you're in the mood for a good old fashion cheese fest filled with hard edge violence, bad dialog, over the top acting and blatant homo-eroticism then this movie's for you. Grab some popcorn and a couple a beers cause it's movie time!
* Loosely based on Xenophon's "Anabasis", the account of an army of Greek mercenaries who, after aligning themselves with Cyrus the Younger in the battle of Cunaxa (401 BC) in his attempt to seize the Persian throne, found themselves isolated behind Persian enemy lines.
* The name Ajax came after the Greek Warrior.
* James Remar earned his roll as Ajax after becoming so involved in the audition reading of the park bench scene, that he lifted the massive table around which the director and producers were seated.
* In the original script for the movie, Cleon is killed by the Grammercy Riffs, Cochise is killed by the Baseball Furies, Ajax is caught by the police, Vermin is killed by the Lizzies, and Swan gets kidnapped by the Dingos. This leaves only four Warriors in the battle with the Punks. Swan does, however, reappear at Coney Island to fight the final battle after the Riffs learn the truth about who shot Cyrus.
* Vermin was scripted to be killed by the Lizzies but Terry Michos who played Vermin made his character more comical to make it more memorable and get more on-screen appearances in the movie, which worked and the death scene was taken out.
* In the script, Snow was originally named Snowball and did not say a single word until the end when he gave a small statement about how they should fight the Rogues to avenge their fallen friends.
* Newcomers were cast to create the feel of "real people caught in dangerous situations". The cast felt like they were a gang before filming started.
* Filming during the scene with the Orphans was interrupted by a police chase.
* There were always crowds of spectators during filming, even at 3am in the freezing cold.
* Filming was allowed to take place uninterrupted during the entire course of the night, which was a first.
* When the fictitious Turnbull ACs visited a hamburger joint during filming, people fled in fear of being attacked.
* 1,000 extras were used at the big meeting, many coming from Riverside Drive Park.
* The Warriors aimed to create "tribal feeling of going into battle together, of loyalty, of support and shared goals" and to have "the audiences' sympathy as they fight off all the other gangs in the city".
* The scene in the men's room with the Punks was the only scene shot on set. The set was located at Astoria Studios, Long Island City - Queens.
* The Homicides were the real gang of Coney Island and didn't approve of fictional gangs wearing colours on their turf and so the wardrobe department made sure nobody walked off location wearing The Warriors colours. The gang were safe in the cemetery scene in Brooklyn due to a fence that surrounded them.
* Filming had to be relocated on occasion due to the noise of crowds that came to watch. Some crowd members were forcibly removed from set.
* Crew members were sent threats on their lives because local gangs had not been cast. Thousands of dollars worth of equipment were damaged when one gang tore through the set during a lunch break.
* The Baseball Furies were created due to Walter Hill's love of baseball and the music group Kiss.
* The crew once got urinated upon from a tower block due to the noise they were creating in the night.
* The film trucks were "protected" by a real gang called The Mongrels for $500 a day.
* David Patrick Kelly improvised Luther's "come out to play-ay" taunt, basing it on an intimidating neighbor of his.
* Swan was to be abducted by a homosexual and sadomasochistic gang who had doberman pinschers. He was scripted to escape and lead The Warriors home.
* Walter Hill originally wanted a tough Puerto Rican girl to play Mercy.
* Michael Beck was discovered by Walter Hill when Hill was watching the movie Madman (1978), which Beck co-starred in with a then less-famous Sigourney Weaver. Hill saw that film because he wanted to see Weaver's performance, as she was being considered for the upcoming film Alien (1979), but was so impressed by Beck's work that he had him come in for an audition which led to his being cast in THE WARRIORS.
* Walter Hill originally wanted the Warriors to be an all-black gang. Producers disagreed. He also wanted an initial subtitle which read "Sometime in the future" but Paramount thought it sounded too much like Star Wars.
* In the subway where Mercy is running with Fox's double, she fell and sprained her wrist because the actor didn't let go of her hand. This is why she later appears in a jacket as it is covering up the bandage. The filmmakers had Mercy disappear from the film for a while, meeting up with the Warriors at the subway platform and saying that she stole the jacket she was wearing before arriving there.
* In one take, Michael Beck (Swan) swings a bat into Deborah's face (in the scene where he throws it at the cop). She was rushed to hospital at 3am for stitches and still has a scar.
* Though it wasn't shown fully in the film, Cleon was killed.
* The film apparently took 60 days to shoot from 8am to midnight.
* The park at the beginning of the movie was supposed to be in the North Bronx. The scene was actually shot in Riverside Park on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
* The original poster featured the words "These are the armies of the night. They are 100,000 strong. They outnumber the cops five to one. They could run New York City." This upset and outraged many people and some tried to have the film banned. After several violent incidents that occurred at various showings of the film, the producers decided to change the poster as a way of cutting down on the violence. The original poster featured the logo as well as a picture of several tough looking gang members. The second poster just featured the logo against a white background.
* The film is based on the novel by Sol Yurick, who bases his novel on Xenophon's The Anabasis. The movie is closer to The Anabasis than to Yurick's novel.
* The fight with the Punks took 5 days to film (eleven hours a day!).
* The television version started with a day shoot at Coney Island with Cleon and his girlfriend (played by Pamela Porter). The producers cut this scene stating that the only day scene should be at the end of the film after a night of horror.
* Real street gangs made it into the film.
* The Warriors' vests were made of fake leather.
* The Baseball Furies were all around the age of 30 or older and were from Stunt's Unlimited.
* The Warriors sign that was painted on the bath house for one of the photos was actually painted over a real gangs tag. The gang didn't take to lightly to this, so the producers paid them to be in the film.
* Subway equipment throughout the entire movie consisted of IND/BMT R-27 and R-30 units, even though the IRT is implied in many instances. Apparently, no attention was paid to train markings, which varied considerably and were often unrelated to the actual routes traveled on. Other subway cars seen briefly are R-12, R-42 and R-46 units.
* The subway footage during the opening titles was filmed along the express tracks of the IND Fulton St. line in Brooklyn.
* Robert De Niro was asked to be Cowboy, but he passed on it and they chose an unknown actor to play the role instead.
* Here are the gangs that were listed in the script (some made it into the movie others didn't): - The Alleycats, - The Amsterdam All-Stars, - The Baseball Furies, - The Black Hands, - The Blackjacks, - The Big Trains, - The Boppers, - The Boyle Avenue Runners, - The Charlemagnes, - The Colt 45's, - The Dealers, - The Delaney Rovers, - The Dingos, - The E Street Shufflers, - The Easy Aces, - The Electric Eliminators, - The Eighth Avenue Apaches, - The Fastballs, - The Fifth Street Bombers, - The Filmores, - The Firetasters, - The Five Points, - The Gerrards, - The Gladiators, - The Go Hards, - The Gun Hill Dancers, - The Gramercy Riffs, - The High Hats, - The High Rollers, - The Homeboys, - The Hoplites, - The Howitzers, - The Huks, - The Hurricanes, - The Imps, - The Jesters, - The Jones Street Boys, - The Judas Bunch, - The Jupiters, - The Knockdowns, - The Knuckles, - The Lizzies, - The Locos, - The Magicians, - The Meatpackers, - The Moonrunners, - The Napoleons, - The Nickel Steaks, - The Nightriders, - The Ninth Avenue Razors, - The Orphans, - The Panzers, - The Phillies, - The Plainsmen, - The Punks, - The Queen's Bridge Mutilators, - The Real Boys, - The Red Hook Shooters, - The Roadmasters, - The Rogues, - The Romans, - The Runaways, - The Saracens, - The Saratogas, - The Savage Huns, - The Shanghai Sultans, - The Southern Cross, - The Speedwagons, - The Stevedores, - The Stilletos, - The Stonebreakers, - The Terriers, - The Turks, - The Turnbull AC's, - The Van Cortlandt Rangers, - The Warriors, - The Whispers, - The Xenophones, - The Xylophones, - The Yo-Yo's, - The Youngbloods, - The Zodiacs, - The Zulus.
* The last part to be cast was Cochise.
* The choreographed fight in the men's room took 5 days (8am to 7pm) to shoot.
* The IND Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station in Brooklyn was used for the 96th St. station scenes. The train operated on one of the unused outer tracks.
* The park at the beginning of the movie was supposed to be in the North Bronx. The scene was actually shot in Riverside Park on Manhattans Upper West Side.
* After several violent incidents that occurred at various showings of the film, the producers decided to change the poster as a way of cutting down on the violence. The original poster featured the logo as well as a picture of several tough looking gang members. The second poster just featured the logo against a white background.
* One of the "Punks" in the men's room-brawl was Craig R. Baxley; another was late stunt-great A.J. Bakunas.
* One of the "Baseball Furies" was late martial-artist/actor Steve James.
* This is a "collective hero" movie, in which the protagonist actually consists of nine people acting (more or less) as one. Walter Hill uses this gimmick frequently; other movies he has made that work this way are Southern Comfort (1981) and The Long Riders (1980).
* Tony Danza was offered the lead, but he chose to film the television series "Taxi" (1978) instead
* During the opening credits of the T.V. version, the knife that is thrown into the board was thrown (off camera) Penn Jillette.
* According to an interview with a Hell's Angel Member on the Howard Stern Show, the Warrior's vest logo was taken from a picture of a bike built in a California prison by an incarcerated Hell's Angel which appeared in a motorcycle magazine. It has apparently caused several fights as Hell's Angels will violently defend ownership of any of their logos.
* The logo on the back of The Warriors vest appears during amusement ride The Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios - Orlando.
* The fight between the Warriors and the Baseball Furies was scripted as extremely graphic and realistic. Producer Lawrence Gordon suggested that music should be used for the scene--it was written without any--to defuse the impact of the violence and the filmmakers agreed.
* Director of Photography Andrew Laszlo campaigned successfully to have a scene early in the film where there is a sudden rainstorm, because this allowed him to "wet down" the streets for the rest of the movie and produce lighting effects that wouldn't have been possible on dry surfaces (it also worked well with the film's limited budget).
* Originally, there was narration planned for the movie with Orson Welles due to perform the voice over.
* The Baseball Furies is a reference to the uptown gang of the 70's, Second Base. Second Base wore Lettermen Jackets with "Second Base" across the backs, not the baseball uniforms and painted faces of the Baseball Furies. The connection is quite obvious when New York boppers are informed by the radio that The Warriors have "... made it past 'Second Base'".
SPOILER: For the last shot in the film, where the vindicated Warriors and Mercy walk away along the Coney Island shoreline as the sun rises, Michael Beck and Deborah Van Valkenburgh were not told when to stop walking. Van Valkenburgh became irritated because they noticed they had reached a point where they were out of the cameras' ranges. But when they went back, they found out that the cast and crew had done this so they could bring out a huge bouquet of roses which they then presented to a surprised Van Valkenburgh.