Hard to fathom that a flick about a ration of reprobates running for their lives from an onslaught of equally as reprehensible New York City gangs circa the late 1970’s would have you pulling for the former. Yet somehow “The Warriors” pulls it off.
The lion’s share of the credit for such goes straight to the deliciously down and dirty vision of director and co-screen writer Walter Hill (“48 Hrs.”, “The Long Riders“) and his brilliant utilization of on-location street and subway venues immersed in middle of the night, dimly lit shades throughout “The City That Never Sleeps”. Hill maintains the tension at amped up assault levels with enormously enthralling action sequences combined with an expert orchestration of fight scenes both brisk and brutal. There is even a well executed moment of poignancy squeezed in here as Hill allows us to catch our breath while we witness an interaction on a train between those kids who get all the breaks and their peers who know only that which is irrevocably broken.
Toss in the fact that this may be, if not the first, certainly one of the initial instances of an electronica-rock music score serving as the soundtrack for a feature-length film courtesy of some guy named Barry De Vorzon. Hey, dude did compose the theme music which the TV soap “The Young and the Restless” has used now for nigh on four and half decades. So let’s not be dissin’ the man, awite? And I simply must, as one of his biggest fans on the planet, recognise the great Joe Walsh for his rousing riffs providing a sonically stalwart serenade for the film’s finish. “In the City” (De Vorzon strikes again, kids-he co-wrote the tune with Walsh) punctuates the closing credits as they roll over “The Warriors” strolling along Coney Island beach in the early morning, having miraculously cheated death all through the night. And yet, as the rising sun shines on these wayward and woe begotten lads, indications are that this may very soon become an erstwhile home.
And, once departed, one to which none of them is likely to ever return.