The Warriors (film)

Infobox Film
name = The Warriors

image_size =
caption = Theatrical poster
director = Walter Hill
producer = Lawrence Gordon
writer = Sol Yurick (novel) David Shaber Walter Hill (screenplay)
narrator =
starring = Michael Beck James Remar Dorsey Wright Deborah Van Valkenburgh David Patrick Kelly Edward Sewer
music = Barry De Vorzon Joe Walsh
cinematography = Andrew Laszlo
editing = David Holden
distributor = Paramount Pictures
released = February 9, 1979
runtime = 93 minutes
country = United States
language = English
budget =
gross = $22,490,039
preceded_by =
followed_by =
website =
amg_id = 1:53477
imdb_id = 0080120

"The Warriors" is a 1979 cult classic action/thriller film directed by Walter Hill and based on the 1965 novel by Sol Yurick. Much like the novel, the film borrows certain elements from the "Anabasis" by Xenophon.


Cyrus, the leader of the most powerful gang in New York City, the Gramercy Riffs, calls a midnight summit for all the area gangs, with all asked to send nine unarmed representatives for the conclave in Pelham Bay Park. The Warriors, a gang from Coney Island, Brooklyn, is one such gang.

The eloquent and intelligent Cyrus (Roger Hill) tells the assembled gangs that a citywide truce is needed, and that the gangs can control the city, pointing out there are 60,000 of them and only 20,000 officers in the NYPD. Most of the gangs laud Cyrus's ideas, but members of the Rogues gang pass a gun to their leader, who then kills Cyrus. Panic ensues. The murderer—revealed to be Luther (David Patrick Kelly), leader of the Rogues gang—is seen in the act by one of the Warriors, Fox (Thomas G. Waites). Immediately after, the NYPD rushes in from all sides. During the chaos, Luther screams that the Warriors are responsible for killing Cyrus. While the Riffs beat the Warriors' leader Cleon (Dorsey Wright), the other eight Warriors escape the melee and debate their next move. Meanwhile, the other gangs regroup at their respective headquarters. Masai, second-in-command of the Riffs, takes charge as their new leader, and declares a bounty on the Warriors. This sets the entire city's gang population out hunting for them, with a seemingly omniscient radio DJ (Lynne Thigpen) reporting on the events.

The Warriors begin their long journey from the Bronx back to Coney Island. The second-in-command, Swan (Michael Beck), takes charge, though the hot-headed Ajax (James Remar) openly voices "his" desire to be acting gang warlord. The Warriors slowly cross the dangerous Bronx and Manhattan territories, narrowly escaping police and other gangs every step of the way. On their way to the subway, they find another gang, the Turnbull AC's, looking for them. They have no choice but to make a run to the train. The Turnbull AC's almost reach them but the Warriors make it to the train, just in time for the doors to close. However, on the ride back to Coney Island, the train is stopped by a fire on the tracks, dumping the Warriors in the Bronx. In the Bronx, they come across a gang called the Orphans. They convince the Orphans to let them through town peacfully until they come across Mercy (Deborah Van Valkenburgh), a feisty girl who convinces the Orphans to try and put up a fight with the Warriors when they refuse to give her one of their gang-vests. When she challenges the manhood of the Orphans' leader, he, to save face, tells the Warriors to remove their gang colors for safe passage. The Warriors refuse, resulting in a near fight quelled only by the Warriors' use of a Molotov cocktail. Mercy, impulsively, follows the Warriors. When the Warriors arrive at 96th Street station in Manhattan, they are separated when they are chased by the numerous patrolling cops who are trying to round up all the gangs after the "rumble" in the Bronx. Vermin, Cochise and Rembrandt make the train to Union Square, but Fox is killed in a scuffle with the police, falling onto the train tracks as a train pulls in, and Swan, Ajax, Snow and Cowboy run outside, where a rival gang, the Baseball Furies, lay in wait for them. The gang chases the four into Riverside Park, where a fight ensues with the Warriors victorious, leaving the defeated Furies beaten on the ground.

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, however (Mercedes Ruehl) is really an undercover police officer who handcuffs Ajax to the bench, and Ajax is arrested and taken to jail.

Swan arrives back at the 96th Street station and meets up with Mercy, who tells him of Fox's fate. On the platform, more police show up and Swan and Mercy flee into the subway tunnel. While there, Mercy expresses her interest in Swan, who doesn't like her. The pair end up kissing, but Swan pushes her away.

Arriving at the Union Square station, Vermin, Cochise and Rembrandt are seduced by members of a female lesbian gang called the Lizzies. Back at the Lizzies' hangout, the women draw weapons to kill them, but the trio narrowly manages to escape again (with only Rembrandt's arm badly cut by a Lizzie gang member), learning in the process that everyone believes they killed Cyrus.

Swan makes it to the Union Square station, but is promptly tailed by a member of the Punks. Mercy also promptly arrives, followed by the remaining members of the Warriors who re-group. They lead the Punks into a nearby male public restroom, where another fight ensues. The Warriors, hurt but victorious once more, then continue their journey back to Coney Island.

The Riffs are visited by a gang member who attended the earlier gathering—a witness to Luther firing the gun. Meanwhile, on the train, the Warriors gripe that Cyrus' plan was all "a load of crap", and when four clean-cut types, couples who are returning home from their senior prom, board the train, the gang feels a twinge of remorse and regret at the life they've been denied. One of the prom dates drops her corsage upon leaving the train, and Swan gives it to Mercy. When day breaks, the Warriors finally arrive home, but find Luther and the Rogues waiting for them. The two gangs meet on the beach, where Swan suggests he and Luther fight a one-on-one duel. Luther pulls his gun, but Swan quickly throws a knife into Luther's wrist, disarming him. Before more violence ensues, the Riffs arrive on the beach and acknowledge they have learned the truth of Cyrus's murder. Masai compliments the remaining Warriors on their skills and lets them go. As the Riffs swarm on the doomed Rogues, the Warriors head off down the shore, relieved that they've survived, but sad in the fact that they're all right back where they've started, which is nowhere.

Cast and characters

The Warriors

The Warriors is a multiracial street gang based in the western neighborhoods of Coney Island, on the edge of Brooklyn. Their gang uniform consists of a red-orange pleather vest embroidered with the Warriors' logo on the back. The gang has an overall Native American theme, and their logo consists of a death's head with an Indian war bonnet shaped like eagle wings. This theme is accented by the Indian-style bead necklaces and armbands worn by some members. Their main stomping ground and base turf is among the many amusement park areas of Coney Island, particularly the landmark that is Deno's Wonder Wheel, a now-iconic symbol synonymous with Coney Island and "The Warriors."

In a deleted scene, available on the special edition DVD and also included in some televised versions of the film, Cleon mentions that the Warriors is a street family of 120 members (plus affiliates), but only the nine chosen to go to Cyrus' meeting are shown in the film. The nine principal members in the film are:

*Cleon (Dorsey Wright): The Warlord, leader and founder of the gang. Named after the Ancient Greek politician. He wears a leopard-patterned cloth around his head as well as an Indian-style necklace. Immediately after Cyrus' assassination, he is attacked and overwhelmed by the Gramercy Riffs and presumed dead.

*Swan (Michael Beck): The Warchief, second-in-command of the gang. Assuming control after the loss of Cleon, Swan makes the decision for the gang to continue wearing their colors and fight their way back home, though in general his leadership is more level-headed and practical than his brothers-in-arms. After successfully leading the group back to Coney, he wins a gunfight against Luther using only a knife. During filming, the script was changed so that he ends up with Mercy.

*Ajax (James Remar): A cocky, loud-mouthed womanizer always up for a fight. After the loss of Cleon at the conclave, he engages in a short confrontation with Swan over who should assume command. He is said to be the strongest Warrior and is certainly the most aggressive. He wears fingerless leather gloves and a black tank-top under his Warriors vest. Ajax is arrested by an undercover female police officer. He is named after the legendary Greek hero.

*Vermin (Terry Michos): Quick with a smile and a joke, Vermin is the most cynical member of the gang, but a solid soldier and extremely loyal. He is tasked with carrying the tokens and money to the meeting. In an early script, he is shot and killed by the Lizzies, but in the finished script he survives the attack.

*Cochise (David Harris): A born fighter who wears Native American-style jewelry, leather pants and boots. He sports an afro with a red bandanna tied around it. He is named after the Apache Chief. He was originally scripted to die and then to be thrown into the Hudson River, but in the finished film he survives.

*Fox (Thomas G. Waites): The gang's scout, Fox is very familiar with other gangs' tactics, territory, and numbers. He dies when he's thrown in front of a speeding train during a fight with police. Mercy later tells Swan that "the cops got him" because Fox told her to run as soon as he began fighting; she was not aware he died. In the script, Fox was originally the love interest of Mercy, but the two actors had no chemistry and the Mercy romance was transferred to Swan. Waites left the film over this, which necessitated his character being written out of the story.

*Rembrandt (Marcelino Sanchez): The gang's graffiti artist, wears the standard Warrior's vest along with a messenger bag and an afro. The youngest member, Rembrandt is far less battle-hardened and is frequently looked after by the other members of the gang. He is most likely named after the famous painter.

*Snow (Brian Tyler): A stoic, African American Warrior with an afro. He proves to be a talented fighter during the gang's brawls with the Baseball Furies and the Punks. In the script and deleted intro scene, Snow is referred to as "Snowball".

*Cowboy (Tom McKitterick): An optimistic and happy-go-lucky Warrior who wears a Stetson cowboy hat and a shirt underneath his vest.

*Mercy (Deborah Van Valkenburgh): A prostitute from Tremont who originally has ties to the Orphans. She joins the Warriors after their confrontation with the Orphans and shows romantic interest in Swan. She occasionally denies being a prostitute and shows embarrassment over her condition around normal people.

Other notable gangs

Along the way, the Warriors encounter the following fanciful gangs, from north to south:

*The Turnbull AC's: A gang with shaved heads, they travel in large numbers in a spraypainted bus and wear denim jackets with matching jeans and patches. Their turf is around Gun Hill Road in The Bronx. According to Rembrandt, even the Gramercy Riffs are afraid to go toe-to-toe with the Bulls.

*The Orphans: A bottom-of-the-barrel gang, the Orphans were not invited to Cyrus' conclave, nor even told about it. Their full strength is about thirty members. They wear green t-shirts with "ORPHANS" printed on the back, and blue jeans. Their turf is Tremont. Their leader is a self-conscious coward, with a weakness for flattery.

*The Baseball Furies (or simply The Furies): A New York Yankees-inspired gang in pinstriped New York Yankee baseball uniforms wielding baseball bats and wearing facial makeup similar to that of the rock group KISS, only multicolored instead of black and white. The Furies are never heard to speak. They are an intimidating presence as they chase the Warriors down but prove ineffective fighters during the ensuing brawl in Riverside Park. The Furies were created because of Walter Hill's love for baseball. In Greek mythology, the Furies were the embodiment of vengeance. This was referenced in the song by Buckethead's The Elephant Man's Alarm Clock by the same name.

*The Lizzies: An all-female gang who seduce the Warriors and successfully lure some members into their Bowery apartment to kill them. The Lizzies are also one of the few gangs with firearms, though they are poor shots. Their name may double as a reference to Lizzie Borden. It may also suggest their lesbian tendencies ("lezzies" being a derogatory slang word for lesbians), which are implied by a suggestive dance scene between two of the gang members. They also represent the mythical Sirens. The apartment they take the Warriors to is directly across the street from CBGB.

*The Punks: A gang with a leader who strolls around on rollerskates. The Warriors fight them in a men's room in 14th Street–Union Square subway station. Each member wears denim overalls over a different-colored striped shirt. The Punks are never referred to by name except in the credits. They share the Bowery with the Lizzies.

*The Rogues: The gang that framed the Warriors for Cyrus’s assassination. They resemble sterotypical metalheads and wear a biker-style uniform consisting of leather "kutten" vests and matching patrol caps and drive an old grafitti-scribbled Cadillac hearse. The leader, Luther (David Patrick Kelly), is a small man with extremely violent and psychopathic tendencies. He carries a police handgun and wears a police badge which suggests he may have killed a cop. He possesses one of the few firearms seen in the film, but is also something of a coward. The Rogues' turf is Hell's Kitchen.

*The Gramercy Riffs: A disciplined, well-organized gang from around Gramercy Park, said to be the biggest gang in the city and are apparently quite skilled in Chinese martial arts. Cyrus (Roger Hill) was the leader of this gang before he was assassinated. After his death, the second in command, Masai, takes over. They are dressed in orange garb resembling those worn by Shaolin monks; at the end of the film, however, they are seen wearing black t-shirts and matching jeans. The Riffs' membership seems to be made up almost entirely of African-Americans.


Producer Lawrence Gordon sent director Walter Hill the screenplay for "The Warriors" with a copy of Sol Yurick's novel.cite news
last = Ducker
first = Eric
coauthors =
title = New York Mythology
work = Fader
pages =
language =
publisher =
date = October 3, 2005
url =
accessdate = 2008-09-28
] Gordon and Hill were originally going to make a western but when the financing on the project failed to materialize, they took "The Warriors" to Paramount Pictures because they were interested in youth films at the time. Hill was drawn to the "extreme narrative simplicity and stripped down quality of the script". The script, as written, was a realistic take on street gangs but the director was a huge fan of comic books and wanted to divide the film into chapters and then have each chapter "come to life starting with a splash panel". However, Hill was working on a low budget and a tight post-production schedule because of a fixed release date as the studio wanted to release "The Warriors" before a rival gang picture called "The Wanderers". As a result, Hill was unable to realize this comic book look.

The filmmakers did extensive casting in New York City. Hill had screened an independent film called "Madman" for Sigourney Weaver to cast her in "Alien" and it also featured Michael Beck as the male lead. The director was impressed with Beck's performance and cast him in "The Warriors". Deborah Van Valkenburgh's agent convinced the film's casting directors to see her. The filmmakers wanted to cast Tony Danza in the role of Vermin but he was cast in the sitcom "Taxi" and Terrence Michos was cast instead. In Yurick's book there were no white characters but, according to Hill, Paramount did not want an all black cast for "commercial reasons".

Stunt coordinator Craig R. Baxley put the cast through stunt school because Hill wanted realistic fights depicted in the film. In preparation for his role, James Remar hung out at Coney Island to find a model for his character. The entire film was shot on the streets in New York City with some interior scenes done at Astoria Studios. They would shoot from sundown to sun up. The film quickly fell behind schedule and went over budget. While they shot in the Bronx, bricks were tossed at the crew. Actor Joel Weiss remembers that filming of his scene at Avenue A being canceled because there was a double homicide nearby. For the big meeting at the beginning of the film, Hill wanted real gang members in the scene with off duty police officers also in the crowd so that there would be no trouble.

The studio would not allow Baxley to bring any stunt men from Hollywood and he needed someone to double for the character of Cyrus so he did the stunt himself dressed as the character. Actual gang members wanted to challenge some of the cast members but were dealt with by production security. The actors playing The Warriors bonded early in the shoot, on and off the set. Originally, the character of Fox was supposed to end up with Mercy and Swan was captured by a rival gang known as the Dingoes only to escape later. Actor Thomas G. Waites was fired eight weeks into principal photography for being difficult on the set and arguing with Hill. The director watched the dailies and realized that Beck and Van Valkenburgh had great chemistry. Their characters ended up together.

Originally, at the Coney Island confrontation at the end of the film, actor David Patrick Kelly wanted to use two dead pigeons but Hill did not think that would work. Kelly used two bottle instead and improvised his famous line, "Waaaaariors, come out to plaaaay". Kelly was influenced by a man he knew in downtown New York who would make fun of him. Hill wanted Orson Welles to do a narrated introduction about Greek themes but the studio did not like this idea and refused to pay for it.


"The Warriors" opened on February 9, 1979 in 670 theaters without advance screenings or a decent promotional campaign and grossed USD $3.5 million on its opening weekend.cite news
last = Arnold
first = Gary
coauthors =
title = "The Warriors" - Surly Kids Pack a Box-Office Wallop
work = Washington Post
pages =
language =
publisher =
date = March 18, 1979
url =
accessdate =
] The following weekend the film was linked to sporadic outbreaks of vandalism and three killings - two in Southern California and one in Boston - involving moviegoers on their way to or from showings. This prompted Paramount to remove advertisements from radio and television completely and display ads in the press were reduced to the film's title, rating and participating theaters. In reaction, 200 theaters across the country added security personnel. Due to safety concerns, theater owners were relieved of their contractual obligations if they did not want to show the film, and Paramount offered to pay costs for additional security and damages due to vandalism.cite news
last =
first =
coauthors =
title = The Flick of Violence
work = Time
pages =
language =
publisher =
date = March 19, 1979
url =,9171,947013,00.html
accessdate = 2008-09-23
] After two weeks free of incidents, the studio expanded the display ads to take advantage of reviews from reputable critics including Pauline Kael of "The New Yorker". She wrote, "The Warriors" is a real moviemaker's movie: it has in visual terms the kind of impact that 'Rock Around the Clock' did behind the titles of "Blackboard Jungle". "The Warriors" is like visual rock". In its sixth week, "The Warriors" had grossed $16.4 million, well above its estimated $6-7 million budget.

A mild commercial success on its initial release, the film was panned by many critics as exploitative and superficial. Gary Arnold, in his review for the "Washington Post", wrote, "None of Hill's dynamism will save "The Warriors" from impressing most neutral observers as a ghastly folly". [cite news
last = Arnold
first = Gary
coauthors =
title = Abstracted Epic of Gang Warfare
work = Washington Post
pages =
language =
publisher =
date = February 10, 1979
url =
accessdate =
] In his review for "Newsweek", David Ansen wrote, "Another problem arises when the gang members open their mouths: their banal dialogue is jarringly at odds with Hill's hyperbolic visual scheme". [cite news
last = Ansen
first = David
coauthors =
title = Gang War
work = Newsweek
pages =
language =
publisher =
date = February 26, 1979
url =
accessdate =
] Frank Rich, in his review for "Time", wrote, "Unfortunately, sheer visual zip is not enough to carry the film; it drags from one scuffle to the next . . . But The Warriors is not lively enough to be cheap fun or thoughtful enough to be serious". [cite news
last = Rich
first = Frank
coauthors =
title = Dead End
work = Time
pages =
language =
publisher =
date = February 26, 1979
url =,9171,920188,00.html
accessdate = 2008-09-23
] Yurick expressed his disappointment in the film version and speculated that it scared some people because "it appeals to the fear of a demonic uprising by lumpen youth", and appealed to many teenagers because it "hits a series of collective fantasies". President Ronald Reagan was also a fan of the film, even calling the film's lead actor, Michael Beck, to tell him he had screened it at Camp David and enjoyed it.cite news
last = Barra
first = Allen
coauthors =
title = "The Warriors" Fights On
work =
pages =
language =
publisher =
date = November 28, 2005
url =
accessdate =
] In recent years, "The Warriors" has acquired the status of a cult film, along with a re-examination of its standing with some film critics. As of January 2008, the film has garnered a 93 percent "fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes.


"Entertainment Weekly" named "The Warriors" the 16th greatest cult film on their "Top 50 Greatest Cult Films" list. [ [ The Top 50 Cult Movies] ] The magazine also ranked it the 14th Most Controversial Movie Ever. [cite news
last =
first =
coauthors =
title = 25 Most Controversial Movies Ever
work = Entertainment Weekly
pages =
language =
publisher =
date = August 27, 2008
url =,,20221484_11,00.html
accessdate = 2008-08-27

In a documentary about the beginnings of the punk rock scene in São Paulo, Brazil [cite video
people = Gastão Moreira
title = BOTINADA! A Origem Do Punk No Brasil
medium = DVD
publisher = ST2 Music
location = Brazil
year2 = 2006
] , many of the interviewees agreed that "The Warriors" was a major influence leading to them forming gangs.


While itself adapted from a novel, the film has been adapted into a number of other products as well. The film's soundtrack was released in the same year as the film. In 2005, Mezco Toyz released Warriors action figures, including Swan, Cleon, Cochise, Ajax, Luther, and a Baseball Fury. [ [ Mezco Toyz | Movie, Television and Proprietary Action Figures & Collectibles ] ]

"The Warriors" video game, based on the movie, was released by Rockstar Games on October 17, 2005. Levels 1 through 13 acts as a prequel to the film, creating backstory and elaborating on the characters from the film. Levels 14 through 18 recreates much of the film's events. Several of the actors from the movie returned to perform the voices for their original characters.


A modern-day remake of the film is set to be directed by Tony Scott, with a tentative release date of 2010. The remake will include more realistic gang members and try to create a modern version of the story, set in Los Angeles. [ [ IGN: Helmer Talks Warriors Remake ] ]


ee also

*Hoe Avenue peace meeting - a real life attempt at gang unity brokered by the YSA in 1971

External links

*imdb title | id=0080120 | title=The Warriors (original)
*imdb title | id=0423512 | title=The Warriors (remake)
*imdb title | id=0486048 | title=The Warriors (video game)
* [ The Warriors Movie Site]
* [ Goons of New York]
* [ "The Warriors Trip From Coney Island to Dyre Avenue in the Bronx Revisited"]
* [ 2006 Warriors Cast Reunion]
* [ The Warriors 1979 Italia]

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