Sunday, 16 January 2011
DVD: THE WARRIORS -THE ULTIMATE DIRECTOR'S CUT( DVD 2005, original movie 1979)
Please sir, can I have the original cut back?
The Ultimate Director's Cut is no different from the original except for the intrusive addition of a few comic-book style illustrations of Greek soldiers trapped in hostile territory heading for the safety of the sea and again comic book illustrations when the film cuts to a new scene. They don't add anything but do distract.
Thankfully this movie is so good that it can take this unneccessary stuff. I'm sure you know the story but here it is anyway. A charismatic gang leader gets together the major gangs of New York City in an attempt to get them to work together to take over the city. The leader of another gang shoots him and opportunistically accuses our heroes, The Warriors from Coney Island, of the murder. Just then the police move in, everything is in chaos and The Warriors, whose leader is killed, have to make their way home with every gang's hands raised against them -though they don't find this out until later in the movie.
Far right is Michael Beck as Swan who takes over as leader. Second from left is James Remar as Ajax, tough, arrogant, over-sexed, and stupid. Both now unrecognisable in the 4-part accompanying documentary.
Set over the course of one night, until, depleted, they finally arrive back at Coney Island at dawn, this is a superbly photographed spectacle which manages to be both dark and full of colour. The Warriors themselves are a diverse bunch of individuals all with clear individual characters who managed to earn your sympathy if not your affection -they are a street gang.
The opening credits are, I'd argue, among the best ever filmed as, to a pounding rock score, The Warriors and other gangs begin to make their ways to the meeting place. The Warriors use the subway and there is some brilliant fast cutting from the pov of the train hurtling along the tracks with the movement of the gangs, and the interplay of The Warriors which sets the scene to perfection.
This is a kinetic action movie which is gripping even between the set-pieces. The violence itself is almost stylised -and this is a stylish film- but relatively bloodless. It's the subject matter which made it contentious at the time. Despite having seen it before a couple of times, I was surprised when I realised the ending was approaching as the time had simply flown. The movie absorbed my attention totally from beginning to end.
If you haven't seen it, it's currently available from Amazon at the giveaway price of £2.99. This also includes an hour long informative documentary made specially for the DVD featuring the director Walter Hill, the Director of Photography and other major technical staff, plus several of the key actors including David Patrick Kelly who played Luther the villain and Deborah Van Valkenburgh who played the love interest (see below).
Utterly brilliant film.