The Curator of Schlock #399 by Jeff Shuster

The Warriors

Skip the director’s cut. 

There I was, stuck in a bowling alley in the dead of night next to a decapitated fentanyl dealer. Actually, the guy wasn’t decapitated. His head had exploded after the Revenging Manta, a ninja vigilante from the downtown Orlando area, threw a bowling ball directly at his cranium. I was picking bits of brain and skull out of my hair as the Revenging Manta gathered up the collection of multicolored pills and shoved them into a pink Hello Kitty bag. — To be continued.

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This week’s movie is 1979’s The Warriors from director Walter Hill. How have I not covered this movie on this blog? Maybe in all these years of pontificating about cinema I’ve not felt worthy enough to review this. I will do my best.

The movie starts out with Deno’s Wonder Wheel lit up against the night sky as moody electronic music from composer Barry De Vorzon plays in the background. We’re soon introduced to the Warriors, the resident gang of Coney Island, NY. They’ve been called to a meeting of all the gangs in New York City. And I mean all of the gangs of New York City: The Boppers, the Saracens, the Hi-Hats, the Moonrunners, the Panzers, the Jones Streets Boys, the Electric Eliminators, and the Van Cortlandt Rangers to name a few.

Nine delegates from a hundred gangs meet at a park in the Bronx where a man named Cyrus (Roger Hill), head of the Gramercy Riffs, ignites the crowd with promises of conquest. If all the gangs can keep up a truce and work together then no one in New York City could stop them. Not the police. Not the crime syndicates. He asks the crowd, “Can you dig it?” The crowd roars in triumph. Cyrus is a supervillain and like many supervillains, you in the audience are secretly admiring him. And just when Cyrus is on top of the world, a punk named Luther (David Patrick Kelly) shoots him dead.

Right after Cyrus falls to the ground, the lights in the park blaze on and dozens of cops storm the scene. Cleon (Dorsey Wright), the Warlord of the Warriors, goes to check on Cyrus. While he and the Gramercy Riffs examine his corpse, Luther points the finger at Cleon stating he’s the guy that shot Cyrus. He and the other Rogues attack Cleon and it’s not long before the Gramercy Riffs join in, beating him to death.

With their Warlord nowhere in sight, the rest of the Warriors escape the park and hide in a cemetery. Swan (Michael Beck) is the War Chief of the gang, the second in command that has to get them home to Coney Island. Joining him are seven other gang members like the hothead Ajax (James Remar) and graffiti artist Rembrandt (Marcelino Sánchez). The Gramercy Riffs want the Warriors alive if possible, wasted if necessary. They’ve put out a call to action to all the gangs between the Bronx and Coney Island to take care of The Warriors. 

What follows is a struggle for survival as the Warriors escape the cops and well as the likes of the Turnbull Acs, the Punks, and the Baseball Furies. It’s a trial by fire and not all of the Warriors will survive the journey home. To say more would spoil this movie. The Warriors is a brilliant film, showing us the perspective of guys Paul Kersey would shoot without giving it a second thought. Never boring and well worth repeated viewing, you can catch The Warriors streaming on Paramount+. 

Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444episode 450, episode 477episode 491episode 492, episode 493episode 495episode 496episode 545episode 546episode 547episode 548, and episode 549) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.