Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Warriors: Director's Cut (1979) Film Review
Nine delegates from every gang from every neighbourhood across New York meet in an empty stadium to hear a speech on taking control of the city from a messianic and enigmatic overlord known as Cyrus.
The Warriors: Cleon, Swan, Ajax, Vermin, Cochise, Snow, Cowboy, Fox and Rembrandt travel all the way from Coney Island to be a part of this massive gathering with dozens of other rival gangs. Things go very, very wrong!
As you are probably aware, so called "unseen editions" and "extended editions" are pretty common on DVD and are usually lousy films with some extra filler thrown in to fool unsuspecting buyers. This is not the case with The Warriors. Like Daredevil or Aliens, this is one of those "director's cuts" that really makes a difference.
First and foremost are the comic book transitions and the new opening. Writer/director Walter Hill felt that his original presentation of the film was a little lost on the audience of the time and its subsequent cult status on video. This new cut draws parallels with the 4th century BC legend of Anabasis, in which an army of Greek mercenaries are left stranded after their leader Cyrus the Younger has been killed. If they can make it through 1000 miles of hostile territory to the ocean, they will be safe.
The Warriors, as you know, must make it through all the tough neighbourhoods of NY to Coney Island after they are wrongfully blamed for the assassination of mega-gang boss Cyrus. A loose, but truly inspired connection.
Back in the Seventies, there weren't just certain neighbourhoods in New York that you avoided. The whole damn city was infested with crime and scum. The gangs were plentiful and they really did OWN the streets. The scenario of all gangs joining together to form one big Uber-gang may seem far fetched today, but if Mayor Giuliani had left the city to decay then NY's future might well have ended up this way. But the fact that the Big Apple is a helluva lot safer these days doesn't lessen the overall impact of The Warriors.
As I mentioned, the Greek history inspiration is clever. But the film is also based on a Fifties novel by Sol Yurick and director Hill took a comic book approach to bring it to life. He was aware of the film's silliness, but coupled with the sense of adventure and episodic battles, a pulp fiction take could make it seem believable. For all we know, maybe there was a gang called The Baseball Furies, who went about with painted faces, beating invaders to a pulp. These were wild times.
The Director's Cut also makes the photography and editing more apparent. Hill frames the movie to look like comic book panels and, as usual, Freeman Davies' (Hill's favourite editor) cutting gives The Warriors a sleek and fast-paced look.
Hill is an action director of considerable talent, who is often overlooked. Films such as 48 Hours (and it's under-rated sequel), Southern Comfort, Trespass and Last Man Standing have never been massive hits, so his hardcore style is only familiar to fans of his work, rather than general movie audiences. Which is a shame!
Now is the time to rediscover The Warriors and be reintroduced to a cult classic. I know a lot of people are purists and will decry the Director's Cut as a cheap stunt to make more money, but I honestly think it's the superior, definitive version.
Judge for yourself; you might just agree with me.Reviewed on: 17 Apr 2006