Jun. 20, 2012 - Issue #870: Food Trucks
Cyrus (Roger Hill), leader of the all-powerful Riffs, invites all the gangs of New York to a park in the Bronx, seeking a truce as a way to overwhelm the gangs' common enemy: the law. The gangs form a De Mille-worthy crowd: guys in leather vests over bare chests, pink vests over shirts and ties, black tanks, day-glo karate tops, baseball uniforms crowned by painted faces. Cyrus estimates there are 60 000 "soldiers" in the city—that's an awful lot of dudes running around New York looking like Village People—versus a measly 20 000 police. "Can you dig it?" Cyrus asks. Most do, but there's one moron who, for no apparent reason, opts to put a bullet in Cyrus just as the police appear. The moron fingers one of the Warriors as Cyrus's murderer, everyone believes the moron, and the Warriors spend the rest of the movie on the run from colleagues and cops alike, traversing a nocturnal New York City nearly devoid of civilians.
The Warriors act pretty tough for guys who rely on public transit. Antagonistic Ajax (James Remar) is very concerned that they're "acting like faggots," which is curious given his repeated threats to shove items up other guys' asses. When a woman (Deborah Van Valkenburgh) finally shows up, she's instantly pegged as trouble. She says she's looking for "some real action," which the Warriors initially take as an invitation to gang rape her: "Maybe we oughtta pull a train on you." Eventually she becomes one of them, a welcome development, I suppose, in a film that could be labeled misogynist without too much straining.
Parallels with myth and history abound, to be sure. Hill decorates the proceedings with comic-book transitions, though the performances are much closer to bad theatre. Dialogue is delivered in as declamatory, subtext-free fashion as possible, and accidental leader Swan (Michael Beck) makes but one face for the entire movie, which mostly swings between amusingly odd and colorfully dull, though the brawl between the Warriors and a rival gang on rollerskates in a subterranean men's room is pretty great.
Metro Cinema at the Garneau
Originally released: 1979
Opens Fri, Jun 22 (11 pm)
Directed by: Walter Hill
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