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The Warriors – Roger Ebert Review

“The Warriors” is a real peculiarity, a movie about street gang warfare, written and directed as an exercise in mannerism. There’s hardly a moment when we believe that the movie’s gangs are real or that their members are real people or that they inhabit a real city.

That’s where the peculiarity comes in: I don’t think we’re supposed to. No matter what impression the ads give, this isn’t even remotely intended as an action film. It’s a set piece. It’s a ballet of stylized male violence.

Walter Hill, the director and co-writer, specializes in fables like this. His first two films were “Hard Times” and “The Driver,” and they were both at arm’s length from realism. Hill likes characters that take on a legendary, mythic stature, and then he likes to run them through situations that look like urban tableaux.

“Hard times,” a good and interesting film, starred Charles Bronson as a professional street fist-fighter who went up against opponents with all the dimension of a James Bond villain. “The Driver” didn’t even have names for its characters; they were described by their functions, and they behaved toward each other in strangely formal, rehearsed, unspontaneous ways.

“The Warriors” takes that style to such an extreme that almost all life and juice are drained from it; there’s great vitality and energy (and choreography and stunt coordination) in the many violent scenes of gang fights and run-ins with the cops. But when the characters talk, they seem to be inhabiting a tale rehearsed many times before.

One example: Three members of a street gang are lined up in a row. The camera regards the first one. He speaks. The camera pans to the second, and he speaks. The camera pans to the third. He speaks. Because the movement of the camera dictates the order and timing of the speeches, there can be no illusion that the characters are talking as their words occur to them.

This same kind of stiff stylization dominates the film. The street gangs take stances toward each other as if they were figures in a medieval print. The deployment of the police and gang forces is plainly impossible on any realistic level; people move into their symbolic places with such perfectly timed choreography that they must be telepathic. And the chase scenes are plainly impossible, as in one extended shot showing the Warriors outrunning a rival gang’s school bus.

All of this is no doubt Walter Hill’s intention. I suppose he has, an artistic vision he’s working toward in this film, and in his work. He chooses to meticulously ban human spontaneity from his films; he allows only a handful of shallow women characters into his stories; he reduces male conduct to ritualized violence. And in “The Warriors” he chooses, with a few exceptions, to cast against type: Only three or four of the movie’s characters look and sound like plausible street-gang members. The rest look and sound like male models for the currently fashionable advertising photography combining high fashion and rough trade.

All very well, I suppose, except that Paramount chooses to advertise the movie as a violent action picture — and action audiences, I suspect, will find it either incomprehensible or laughable. Walter Hill has a considerable visual skill, and he knows what he’s doing in “The Warriors” and does it well. But is this style suited to this material? And does Hill have other notes to play? All three of his films have shown a certain skittishness in the face of human juices and the unrehearsed flow of life. And so his street gangs, and his movies, walk lockstep through sterile streets.


Worst News EVER…

Mark Neveldine was interviewed on Screencrush and talked about how he and sometime directing partner Brian Taylor, they co-directed Crank 1 and 2, Gamer and Ghost Rider, would like to remake The Warriors. I am not happy… Here is what Neveldine said:

The Warriors would be a remake that Brian and I would love to tackle, it’s just in rights hell at the moment. … We have never been interested in remakes, and probably still aren’t. But that’s the one that we’ve always felt would just be awesome. We just feel like we’re the perfect guys for that job; baseball bats, roller-skates, gangs, the heightened world. We know there’s been fear at some studios like “We make this movie today and gangs are gonna go wild!” And it’s like “Whatever.” You do it in Crank style, people are just gonna laugh and have fun. … We would set it, obviously, five minutes in the future, and we’d really love to build these flamboyant gangs and have fun with them, and have a heightened sense of action and bring all the things that we’ve learned and stolen from Rodriguez and Tarantino and other great directors and put it on the screen. [laughs]

No, no, no… let’s hope they never get the rights and just fuck off to make Crank 3 instead. Ease the nausea by enjoying the original trailer.


Lynne Thigpen

Lynne Thigpen_The Warriors_bannerCherlynne Theresa “Lynne” Thigpen (December 22, 1948 – March 12, 2003) was an American stage and television actress. Thigpen was born in Joliet, Ilinois, and obtained a degree in teaching. She taught English in high school briefly while studying theatre and dance at the University of Illinois before moving to New York City in 1971 to begin her work as a stage actress.

Lynne Thigpen_The WarriorsThigpen had a long and prolific theatre career, and appeared in numerous musicals including Godspell, and An American Daughter (for which she won a Tony Award for her portrayal of Dr. Judith Kaufman in 1997) .

Her first feature film role was Godspell (1973), however, to me her most famous role is that of the omniscient Radio DJ in the classic Walter Hill movie, The Warriors. She played an unnamed African American female disc jockey on a New York City radio station, which conveniently, every gang seems to listen too. She reports on gang activity in the city and keeps gang members informed on which gangs have alliances and rivalries, and most importantly, she reports on the progress made by The Warriors. Although Lynne Thigpen played the physical character, the DJ was voiced by Pat Floyd.

The Warriors_movie PosterThigpen played Leonna Barrett, the mother of an expelled student in Lean on Me, a story of famous American principal Joe Louis Clark. She had a role in the Shaft remake alongside Samuel L. Jackson, as the murder victim’s mother. She also played the Second President of the world council in Bicentennial Man (1999). Her last film was Anger Management (2003) which was released only a month following her death and paid tribute to her in the end credits.

Thigpen died of cerebral hemorrhage on March 12, 2003 in her Marina del Rey, California home. Thigpen was interred at Elmhurst Cemetery in her hometown of Joliet, Illinois.