The Warriors (1979)


The Warriors is a 1979 American cult action/thriller film directed by Walter Hill and based on Sol Yurick's 1965 novel of the same name. Like the novel, the film borrows elements from the Anabasis by Xenophon.


Cyrus (Roger Hill), leader of the Gramercy Riffs, the most powerful gang in New York City, calls a midnight summit of all New York area gangs, requesting them to send nine unarmed representatives to Van Cortlandt Park. The Warriors, from Coney Island, Brooklyn, are one such gang. Cyrus proposes the assembled crowd a permanent citywide truce that would allow the gangs to control the city. Most of the gangs laud his idea, but Luther (David Patrick Kelly), leader of the Rogues, uses a smuggled gun to shoot Cyrus. Panic ensues and the NYPD rushes in. Fox (Thomas G. Waites) one of the Warriors, sees Luther commit the shooting, but in the chaos, Luther screams that the Warriors are responsible. While the Riffs beat their leader Cleon (Dorsey Wright) to death, the other eight Warriors escape the melee and debate their next move, knowing they are deep in enemy territory. Meanwhile, Masai, second-in-command of the Riffs, takes charge, and declares a bounty on the Warriors. This sets the city's gang population out hunting for them, with a radio DJ (Lynne Thigpen) reporting live on the events. The Warriors regroup in Woodlawn Cemetery and begin their long journey back to Coney Island. The second-in-command, Swan (Michael Beck), takes charge, though Ajax (James Remar) openly voices his desire to be acting warlord. On their way to the subway, the Warriors find the Turnbull AC's looking for them. They have no choice but to make a run to the train. On the ride to Coney Island, the train is stopped by a fire on the tracks, dumping the Warriors in Tremont, in the Bronx. There, they come across a gang called the Orphans, led by Sully (played by Paul Greco), who are parlayed into letting the Warriors through peacefully, until Mercy (Deborah Van Valkenburgh), a feisty girl, ("Real tough chick," Swan mocks) convinces the Orphans to put up a fight, which the Warriors cleverly avoid by using a Molotov cocktail. Mercy, impressed, follows the Warriors. When they arrive at the 96th Street and Broadway station in Manhattan, they are chased by patrolling police. Three of them make the train to Union Square, while Fox, struggling to escape the police, is pushed on to the tracks and run over by a train. Mercy escapes somehow. Swan and the remaining three run outside, where the Baseball Furies lie in wait for them. This gang chases the four into Riverside Park, where a fight ensues with the Warriors victorious. Leaving the park, Ajax breaks from the group in order to "make it" with a woman on a park bench, in spite of the others' warnings. The woman (Mercedes Ruehl) is an undercover police officer who handcuffs Ajax to the bench; he is arrested and taken to jail. Arriving at Union Square station, Vermin, Cochise, and Rembrandt are seduced by an all-female gang called the Lizzies. Back at their hangout, the Lizzies draw weapons, but the trio narrowly escape, learning in the process that everyone believes they killed Cyrus. Swan returns to the 96th Street station, finding Mercy there. More police show up and Swan and Mercy flee into the tunnel. While there, they initially make out, but Swan pushes her away and leaves without her. He makes it to Union Square station, but is tailed by members of The Punks. Mercy arrives, followed by the remaining members of the Warriors. They lead the Punks into a nearby male public restroom, where another fight ensues. The Warriors, sore but victorious once more, catch the last train on their journey back to Coney Island. The Riffs are meanwhile visited by a gang member who attended the earlier gathering, a witness to Luther firing the gun. The Warriors finally arrive to Coney island at daybreak, but find the Rogues waiting for them. The two gangs meet on the beach, where Luther reveals he had no reason for killing Cyrus, other than his own gratification. Swan suggests he and Luther fight one-on-one, but Luther pulls his gun. Swan throws a knife into Luther's wrist, disarming him. The Riffs then arrive and acknowledge the truth about Cyrus's murder. Masai compliments the remaining Warriors (Masai: "You Warriors are good...real good"; Swan: "THE BEST") and lets them go. The Riffs then jump onto the Rogues. The DJ then informs everyone that the early reports were wrong and apologizes to the Warriors with a song as Swan, Mercy and the surviving members walk along the beach.