The Warriors is one of the those films that I don’t know why I was aware of it but it’s always just been there on the edge of consciousness though I didn’t really know anything of the story.
That story follows the titular group of young, Coney Island based, street-toughs in 1970s New York following a meeting of all the gangs in the north Bronx (for anyone not aware of the city’s geography that’s two places about as far apart as it’s possible to get within the Five Boroughs) as they fight their way back across the city over the course of a night while the other gangs hunt them down as chief suspects in a gangland murder.
While the story is far from the most in-depth ever committed to celluloid, and the acting is similarly basic, it is, as with much cult cinema, the energy of the film that really carries it along.
Presented in rather episodic style each section sees The Warriors encounter a different gang, roughly divided by stops on the New York train system, each of whom has their own distinctive look and style.
These looks balance on the edge of the ridiculous (such as The Punks who look more like Dexys Midnight Runners circa Come On Eileen than The Ramones) but in some cases have become strangely iconic for reasons I’m still not sure of (The Baseball Furies with their matching baseball uniforms and coloured face paint for example).
A lot of this, as well as some nice synth flourishes on the soundtrack, makes it somewhat like a less dark or meaningful A Clockwork Orange.
While a lot about the film is fairly basic, it’s gritty 70s aesthetic really adds to the atmosphere.
This is aided by the archetypal characters and the sense that everyone knows this isn’t quite real life, along with the action sequences which are refreshingly simple and free of the impression that everyone is an MMA experts like in many modern movies.
Along with this it resists the potential urge to be too self exploratory, keeping it to a brisk 90 minutes of raucous fun.
While watching it now means I may not have quite the connection to it I might have to other cult movies of its ilk, and it has a few problematic moments in its character portrayals, I could easily see how watching The Warriors as a teenager would make it one of those films that stays a favourite for life and quite how it’s gained the reputation it has.