Kinetic is the word for the films of director Walter Hill. While some of them may lack complex characterizations (particularly true of THE DRIVER and THE WARRIORS), Hill makes up for these deficiencies with stunning visual panache. THE WARRIORS advertised its subject matter in somewhat
belligerent terms: "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," and as a result the film was widely criticized as an incitement to gang violence. While the film depicts gangs, however, it does so in a highly
stylized manner, and the criticism seems therefore to reflect a naive confusion of art with life. Indeed, without moralizing, the film achieves insight into the blighted lives and emotions of the young gang members. Loosely based on Sol Yurick's 1965 novel about a reprehensible New York street
gang, THE WARRIORS opens (after a marvelous credits sequence that sets the mood for the movie) at a rally held by Roger Hill, playing the ambitious leader of a gang known as the Riffs, who seeks to unite all the street gangs into one army. Each gang has sent a handful of representatives to the
meeting, all of whom have agreed to come unarmed. The leader of a gang called the Rogues, however, pulls a gun, kills Hill, and frames the Warriors for the crime. The film then turns into a battle in which the Warriors try to make it home through enemy territory with every rival gang in the city
out to get them. The Warriors finally straggle back to Coney Island, where the truth is revealed, leaving Kelly and his gang in the hands of a very angry group of Riffs.
THE WARRIORS is a visual feast. Director Hill fills the frame with vibrant colors, bright lights, and nonstop motion. The uniforms of the various gangs are unique, funny, fearsome, and more than a bit theatrical. The exciting fight scenes are brilliantly choreographed, and instead of focusing on
the violence, Hill concentrates on pure movement (most of the cast were actually dancers). Alongside all the glitz are a few moments of insight into the characters. In a simple but effective scene, the Warriors are sprawled exhausted in a subway car. Two teenage couples fresh from a prom enter and
sit opposite gang-leader Beck and his girl, Valkenburgh. The street kids stare at the tuxedos, prom dresses, and flowers of the "wholesome" kids. The visual contrast is enough to suggest the ways in which the street kids have missed out and been denied a normal adolescence.
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- Released: 1979
- Rating: R
- Review: Kinetic is the word for the films of director Walter Hill. While some of them may lack complex characterizations (particularly true of THE DRIVER and THE WARRIORS), Hill makes up for these deficiencies with stunning visual panache. THE WARRIORS advertised… (more)