Thursday, March 23, 2023

The Warriors

Now that I'm getting settled into the new digs, I'm finding that I have a bit more time to watch stuff, as well as see what all is available on the various streaming services. I noticed that one of the channels was running The Warriors, one of those movies that I know has a bit of a cult following but that I had never seen before. It's nice that streaming lets you start from the beginning without having had to record it first, so even though it was in the middle of a showing, I was able to sit down and watch from start to finish, along with the same three or four ads over and over.

In New York City, there are a lot of small competing gangs, of the sort that are about as tough as the Jets and the Sharks in West Side Story. One of those gangs is the Warriors, who are based in Coney Island. A small group of Warriors are on their way to Manhattan, where a bigger gang leader, Cyrus, has assembled all the gangs. Cyrus wants them to band together, since together there's a lot more of them than there are police. However, somebody, not one of the Warriors, has smuggled a gun into this meeting that's so secret it's being held right out in the middle of a public park and nobody notices but the assembled gang members. That guy shoots poor Cyrus dead.

Worse, Cleon (Dorsey Wright), the leader of the Warriors, got a good look at the guy who shot Cyrus. And, the killer Luther knows that Cleon saw it. So the killer takes the initiative and claims -- totally wrongly, of course -- that it was Cleon who killed Cyrus. Luther would have shot Cleon too, but the police show up just in time for everybody to skedaddle.

It's bad news for the Warriors. Since they're a gang, and wearing their "uniform" of an unbuttoned vest with nothing underneath, because of course everybody goes out in public undressed like this, all the other gang members are going to be able to spot the Warriors. And the gangs believe in collective punishment, because what would be the point of the gang otherwise. The Warriors are unarmed, like everybody else but Luther, and since they're not back on their home turf, they're in serious trouble. And with Cleon presumed dead, there's a power vacuum between second-in-command Swan (Michael Beck) and number three Ajax (James Remar).

Masai (Dennis Gregory), Cyrus' second-in-command, wants revenge, and tries to get out word to all the other gangs to stop the Warriors if at all possible. Now, this is in the days before cell phones and social media, so Masai has to use a friend in radio, the DJ (Lynne Thigpen), to get the word out. So the other gangs are aware that the Warriors are trying to get back to Coney Island, and are in pursuit. The Warriors have to take on a serious of increasingly absurdist gangs to get home. (Seriously, it got to the point that I was hoping the tennis mimes from the end of Blow-Up would be one of the gangs.)

It's easy to see why The Warriors has become a cult classic. That having been said, it's really not that good of a movie if you decide to stop and think about what you're watching. There are a lot of plot holes and other stuff that just doesn't make much sense or strains credulity. One of the gangs was on roller skates, for example, and this made me wonder whether this was how Michael Beck got the idea to open a roller disco in Xanadu. If you want another movie reference, Lynne Thigpen's DJ character made me think of Vanishing Point. And for New York supposedly being the City that Never Sleeps, the New York depicted here was surprisingly empty. But if you turn your brain off, it's a lot of fun.

No comments: