Friday, August 29, 2008

It's Movie Time!

Am I entertained? Been home for a week and DirecTV's offerings have become pretty bland, so it was time to break into the DVD library here at The Poor Farm.

Did I decide to watch something educational and/or worthy? Perhaps a study of Fellini, for film technique? Perhaps something historical, like World at War? Maybe a Ken Burns documentary?

Oh, crap no. You don't know me very well.

Tonight's entertainment was the cultish movie The Warriors, directed by Walter Hill in 1979. It was supposed to depict gangs in NYC and it was

Loosely based on Xenophon's "Anabasis", the account of an army of Greek mercenaries who, after aligning themselves with Cyrus the Younger in the battle of Cunaxa (401 BC) in his attempt to seize the Persian throne, found themselves isolated behind Persian enemy lines.

Okay, so maybe there was a bit more culture involved here. Sorry 'bout that, apparently my gratuitous violence is of a higher order than I thought. The story involves a gang leader (Cyrus) who calls together ten representatives each of all the NYC gangs at the Bronx zoo to discuss taking over the city. Cyrus is a member of the Grammercy Riffs, the largest gang. Luther (portrayed by David Patrick Kelly and perhaps better known for his role as "Luther" in 48 Hours),leader of the Rogues, shoots Cyrus on a whim and blames Cleon, the leader of the Warriors, for the killing. So, the story is about the Warriors trying to get home to Coney Island without being killed themselves, since all the gangs are looking for Our Hapless Heroes. The Riffs want them, and want them badly.

The various gangs are mostly from Walter Hill's imagination. The Baseball Furies were apparently based on a real gang - Second Base. They, however, do not run around in whiteface looking like mimes dressed like Yankees. Wikipedia says they were created because of Hill's love for baseball and the rock group KISS. Another notable gang was the all girl "Lizzies." Actually, most of the gangs were very stylized.

I can remember when this movie came out - the media was expecting violence at every theater it was to be screened. If I remember correctly, it was on the cover of Time. Of course, nothing of the sort happened. This scene is the fight between the baseball Furies and the Warriors:

direct link

I really enjoy the music score here - that is the main "theme" song whenever trouble is brewing for Our Guys. The character Ajax (James Remar) also has one of the movie's best lines in this scene - I'll shove that bat up your ass and turn you into a popsicle. Actually, Remar has a lot of kewl lines.

Hill used a lot of relative unknowns in this movie, and unfortunately for them, most of them are relatively unknown now. Mercedes Ruehl, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, Michael Beck, and the aforementioned David Patrick Kelly would be considered the "stars" today. This movie just didn't elevate the unknown ensemble.

Of course, Luther and his Rogues need for the Warriors to be dead, since they know he was the guilty party responsible for Cyrus's death. They, too are searching the city for The Running Men (and one woman, as it turns out), plus they know where the Warrior's home base is. The Rogues find the Warriors just as they reach the boardwalk at Coney Island, and Luther calls them out:

direct link

Oh, man, the bottles clinking and the singsong Warriors, come out to play eee aaay! Thar's movie writin' that'll stick to your ribs. I'll not spoil the finish if you've never seen this show, but I thought it ended rather well.

This particular movie probably isn't going to make a one hundred best list thirty years from now. It is about as far from being a chick movie as is possible. It is a weird sort of fun, kick ass, stylish for the late seventies flick that really has no "message" preached at us, or any really redeeming characteristics for a serious film buff. It's a greasy hamburger in a world of gourmet cooking. I happen to like greasy hamburgers, thank you very much! Call it a guilty pleasure, or call it genius disguised as camp, I don't care. I just get a kick out of it.

Someday, I might even review Circle of Iron or even Army of Darkness, both right up there with Big Trouble in Little China and Escape From New York. French fries and milkshakes to go with greasy hamburgers.


Anonymous said...

Its a gay film...

RT said...

I was introduced to that movie when I was 18. I still say, "Warriors come out and play-ay" every now and then. (For no apparent reason, too.)