December 5, 2023

THE WARRIORS: History in a Box

THE WARRIORS Limited Edition (Blu-ray)
1979 / 93 min (2 cuts)
Review by Tiger the Terrible😺

Sometimes the history behind a movie is just as interesting as the movie itself.

Back in 1979, there was a little film called The Warriors, a simple-but-stylish thriller directed by Walter Hill about a small Coney Island street gang who are framed for the shooting of a powerful New York gang leader. They are then forced to make their way through New York City, avoiding rival gangs and the police in order to make it back to their home turf, where they will allegedly be safe. It is a long and perilous journey, and several gang members don’t make it back.

If you've ever seen this movie, you know The Warriors bears absolutely no resemblance to anything in the real world. It’s a cartoon fantasy - an aesthetic precursor to the likes of Escape from New York - with elaborately-attired gang-bangers whose ‘colors’ are more like Halloween costumes than the uniforms of the street (in fact, a lot of kids did dress-up like the Baseball Furies for Halloween that year). The violence is romanticized and choreographed, shot more for dramatic effect than any attempt at realism…kinda like West Side Story without the songs or the movie Kiss should have made instead of Phantom of the Park.

Still, a few real-life gangsters decided to go see it, but got into a tiff with rivals before or after the movie and commenced trying to kill each other. There were shootings, as well as a few deaths.

"Admit it, Swan...we're lost."
With these few incidents, totally unrelated to the movie, The Warriors became the most controversial film of the year. The media jumped all over it, suggesting the film itself was inciting deadly riots. Paramount Pictures reacted by removing all of its TV and radio ads, and eventually started pulling it from theaters. With hindsight, maybe the powers-that-be at Paramount used these incidents to create a high must-see factor for would-be thrill-seekers. 

So for a brief time, The Warriors was seen as dangerous, therefore irresistible, which undoubtedly contributed to the cult status it now enjoys. With the media whipping people into a frenzy, the movie had a sudden street-cred it didn’t really warrant, since it’s relatively lightweight fluff…not remotely dangerous, but a hell of a lot of fun and arguably Hill’s most entertaining movie. If not for the actions of a few gang-bangers, there’s a chance The Warriors would have been forgotten by the general public within a few weeks. Instead, it became something of a cultural phenomenon.

Boxed sets were made for classics such as this…the ones with stories every bit as enjoyable as the film. Arrow Video has put together a great two-disc set with 4K remasters of both the original theatrical cut and the Alternate Version, which was first released on DVD in 2005. Also included is a large selection of new and vintage bonus features covering all aspects of the production, as well as its immediate and long-term cultural impact. As with other Limited Edition sets from Arrow, plenty of physical goodies are thrown in (100 page booklet, poster, artcards, stickers), but unfortunately were not made available for review.


NOTE: Free Kittens Movie Guide was provided with a promo disc for review purposes. Physical supplemental material included with the final product (booklets, artwork, inserts, etc) were not available for review.

THEATRICAL AND ALTERNATIVE VERSIONS - The theatrical cut is offered in its original aspect ratio (1.85:1) on home video for the first time 

NEW INTERVIEWS - Individual interviews with director Walter Hill, editor Billy Weber, costume designer Bobbie Maddox.

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION - This new feature has filmmakers Josh Olson, Lexi Alexander & Robert D. Kryzkowski in a Zoom meeting discussing their appreciation for the film.

NEW FEATURETTES - Come Out and Play (a look at the Coney Island locations today); Sound of the Streets (film historian Neil Brand discusses Barry De Vorzon’s prepulsive music score); Armies of the Night (a feature on the costumes, as well as conceptual costume design)

VINTAGE FEATURETTES - The Way Home (with cinematographer Andrew Laszlo); The Beginning; Battleground; The Phenomenon.

NEW AUDIO COMMENTARY - By critic & Walter Hill biographer Walter Chaw.

ISOLATED MUSIC SCORE - I always felt Barry De Vorzon’s score was vastly unappreciated.


ORIGINAL TRAILER - Which actually uses the theme from Sorcerer.


No comments: