Some movies should never be remade. The best remakes are from movies that weren’t very good the first time around. The most recent example I can think of is ‘Ocean’s Eleven.’ But now comes the sad news that one of the best cult movies of all time (I’m not even sure if the label of ‘cult’ movie fits), ‘The Warriors’, directed by Walter Hill is going to be remade by Tony Scott (‘Top Gun’, ‘Crimson Tide’).
‘The Warriors’ is one of those rare movies that is good and bad at the same time. The action, tension and great band of characters allow us to overlook the huge plot holes, cheesy dialogue, and wooden acting. It’s also great to watch now, because some of the cast have gone on to bigger and better things. For others, it was the end of the line after that.
For those pop culture heathens who have not seen it, ‘The Warriors’ is about a gang from Coney Island in Brooklyn who attend a ‘super-gang’ meeting in the Bronx. They are there to listen to Cyrus, a charismatic Black Panther type who talks about the gangs taking over the city and shouts “Can you dig it?” to the adoration of the thousands of gang members in attendance. Well, Cyrus is shot to death by one of the gangs there (we never find out why really. The shooting is done by the little weasily guy who played ‘Luther’ in 48 Hours. Oh and his name is ‘Luther’ in this movie too) and The Warriors are blamed. From that point on ‘The Warriors’ are determined to get back to their turf, but now they have all the gangs in New York chasing them. Their route takes them everywhere from the subway to Central Park and finally back to Brooklyn where the final showdown is to take place.
It’s a cheesy good time and the cheesiness starts right away when one of the Warriors, ‘Cowboy’ (Tom McKitterick in his first and only role) is asking “What do you know about Cyrus?” The answers are things like, “He’s the one and only.” and “Magic. Pure magic.” Well that explains it for me.
After Cyrus is capped, the guys realize they are going to have to “bop” their way back. No, not dance. Bop. That’s the word used instead of ‘fight’ in this movie. “We may have to bop are way back” and “This is for all you boppers out there” are just a few times it is heard. I guess if you truly did want to fight some guy, walking up to him and saying, “Do you want to bop?” would do the trick.
The gang is full of cliched members of course. The leader (the second leader – the first, ‘Cleon’ gets lost in a crowd of Gramercy Riffs right after he is fingered as the gunman) Swan (played by Michael Beck in his greatest role), is a quiet type, but you know he can kick ass. There’s the wiseass, Vermin (played by Terry Michos who went on to have a starring role in a ‘Simon vs. Simon’ episode) who at one point asks, “What the shit are we gonna do?”, which has to be the first and only time I have ever heard the word ‘shit’ used that way. There is also the member who thinks he should be leader, Ajax (played James Remar who has actually gone on to have a pretty successful career as a character actor in quite a few productions) whose always “Sick of running from these wimps” and thinks everybody’s going “faggot.” Then there are the ‘other’ members. The ones who are there, but are just there to fight. Finally, there is the weakling. For whatever reason, in the movies all gangs always have one guy you know could never make it into a gang in real life. Yet, in movieworld, there’s always room in the gang for a wuss. The character of ‘Rembrandt’ is that guy. He’s given the duty of spraying the Warriors ‘mark’ wherever they go. One would think he’d be able to come up with this elaborate mark since his name is Rembrandt, but all he does is spray a big ‘W’ the one time they show him do it. Maybe the other guys can’t read. However, they know where the subway stations are. That’s one of those little plot holes I talked about earlier.
Of course there has to be a girl involved. She’s (Mercy is her name) played by Deborah Van Valkenburgh, best remembered for her role as ‘the other sister’ on Ted Knight’s ‘Too Close For Comfort.’ Everybody remembers ‘Sara’, the blonde sister with the great rack. They should have gotten her. Then again, at one point the Warriors are contemplating pulling a ‘train’ on Mercy and stop to fight…oops…bop. Nobody would have believed they’d push Sara aside just for a silly bopping session.
The essence of the movie however, is its’ surroundings, props and complete lack of gang fashion (or naming convention for that matter.
One of the most interesting things about the movie, is that aside from the gang members and cops, there’s almost no other people on the streets. New York is the city that never sleeps. However, in this movie, it’s the city that slipped into a coma. Two people make appearances in the movie and they’re both white. In addition, they’re white people in places that no white person would go in New York that time of night.
To truly appreciate the cheesiness (it’s a good cheesiness though), you have to take a look at some of the other gangs:
First up are The Baseball Furies. They wear baseball uniforms, paint their faces like clowns and run around with bats. They chase some of The Warriors through Central Park and after Cowboy says he’s going to drop from exhaustion, Ajax, Snow and Swan then proceed to kick the crap out of 10 or 11 guys with baseball bats while they have no weapons. It also brings out one of the lamest threats ever heard in cinema from Ajax: “I’ll shove that bat up your ass and turn you into a popsicle.” Whose going “faggot?”
Check out ‘The Boppers.’ No significant role in the movie though ‘The Pimps’ would be a more accurate description.
The Highhats. Tell me who the hell would be afraid of a bunch of guys who are nothing but mimes?? I’d see them and be like, “Do the rope thing! Do the rope thing!”
The Electric Eliminators. They have to get to the bowling alley after they meet up with Cyrus.
The Savage Huns. Actually, they all tried out for a part as a Conehead on Saturday Night Live and were rejected.
The Lizzies. The best gang name ever. These chicks were tough. In fact, they tried to kill a few of The Warriors and in one of the few times when you could cheer a man kicking a woman’s ass, one of them had a chair broken over her head.
In one of the finer moments in the movie, Swan, Ajax, Snow and Cowboy had just got done taking care of The Baseball Furies when the come across a pretty young woman (played by Mercedes Ruehl) and Ajax wants to have some fun. The others decline (with Ajax telling them they’re going “faggot” of course) and Ajax heads back. Now, the average person could have a brain the size of pea and realize that young attractive women don’t decide to hang out on a bench in the middle of Central Park, late at night by themselves. The realization that she’s a cop doesn’t come as any surprise to us when it happens.
Other highlights: The Rogues car. Luther and his buddies drive around in the biggest piece of shit I have ever seen. It has graffiti on it and barely looks like it could drive one block, yet it hauls 10 gang members all the way to Coney Island like a bunch of clowns at the circus.
The DJ. Played by Lynne Thigpen (who sadly passed away this past March), she gives constant updates as to The Warriors progress and offers words of encouragement to the other gangs chasing them. It’s nice to know the local radio station is giving directions to the people who want to kill you.
Luther’s creepy ode to get The Warriors out from under the boardwalk. Using 3 glass bottles on his fingers and that voice, he shrieks, “Warriorsssssssss……….(pling pling pling)…..come out to…playyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!! (pling pling pling)….Warriorssssssssss……….come out playyyyyyyyyyyyeeeeeeee!”
There is so much more to love about this classic. How the hell could anybody even think of remaking such a film?