Saturday, July 30, 2016

Skip The Purge and Come Out to Play With The Warriors

Is it truly possible to be both a gritty ‘70s New York thriller and also a ridiculously shameless and embarrassing masculine fantasy involving theme-costumed street gangs?  The answer of course is an unqualified yes, with The Warriors (1979), which depicted an alternate New York where the city is ruled by rival street gangs and there only seems to be one handgun. Most of the fighting is hand-to-hand, along with the occasional switchblade and/or baseball bat.
When the presumptive heroes of the movie, The Warriors, are framed for the murder of Cyrus (with that one handgun), the leader of the Gramercy Riffs and the most powerful gang, a hit is put out on them (over the radio, that’s how you went viral in the ‘70’s) and they spend the rest of the night fighting every other gang in New York as the race back to their home turf on Coney Island.  The real joy of this movie are the gangs they encounter; The Baseball Furies in Yankee uniforms wearing KISS makeup, the all-girl Lizzies sporting Joan Jett shags and The Rogues, on roller skates.  
The Warriors is like an American version of the UK mod/skinhead rivalries, but without the scooters and the shaved heads.  Punk Rock is also completely ignored, which is ironic considering the movie came out in 1979.  And it never occurs to The Warriors that they could simply take off their vests that say Warriors on the back, blend into the crowd and take the subway home, but the name of this movie is The Warriors, man, not The Runaways.  Which seems like a far better name for that all-girl gang than the Lizzies…
From director Walter Hill of The Long Riders (1980), Last Man Standing (1996), and Deadwood, the movie predates Escape From New York (1981) and is so much more fun than any of these modern Purge movies.  Michael Beck was Swan, the leader of The Warriors and starred in Xanadu (1980), The Last Ninja (1983) and Babylon 5.  James Remar as Ajax, is best remembered as Dexter’s dad in Dexter, and also starred in Sex and The City, The Cotton Club (1984), Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997), Blade Trinity (2004) and Pineapple Express (2008).
David Patrick Kelly portrayed Luther, the leader of The Rogues, and went on to appear in Twin Peaks and Commando (1985, “I let him go”).  He played T-Bird in The Crow (1994, “Fire it up!”) and had a cameo John Wick (2014).  And watch out for Mercedes Ruehl, who would later go on to win an Oscar for The Fisher King (1991, with Robin Williams), in one of her first movies as “Policewoman in the Park”.

my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  i:)  it’s a the first book in a 4 volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hr diner with the best pie in town…