Arts & Life, Theatre

Navigating Netflix: The Warriors

There are more than a few classic lines that get re-appropriated by media again and again, those movies and TV shows that are both highly memorable and highly quotable. I can rarely make it through the day without quoting The Simpsons or someone quoting The Simpsons to me. And there are certain movies that you just can’t help quoting, often without even realizing it. The Warriors definitely has that one line that gets used over and over again but many don’t know where it originated from.

“Warriors, come out and play!”

The Warriors was adapted from Sol Yurick’s 1965 novel into the 1979 film cult classic. The Warriors are one of many New York street gangs called to what can best be described as a “peace summit” by the leader of the city’s most powerful gang. Like most peace summits, it ends in the murder of its instigator at the hands of a jealous rival, in this case the leader of the Rogues. The Rogues in turn frame The Warriors for the act and send the rest of New York’s gangs after them.

As the Warriors try to make their way back to their home turf of Coney Island, they encounter and fight other gangs, police, and a variety of obstacles they frequently create themselves through a series of bad decisions. The whole attack is guided by a radio DJ who narrates their progress and directs traffic with the other gangs while on the air. When they finally make it home, they find the Rogues waiting for them.

The moment when the Warriors are called out by the Rogues has been adapted frequently, one of my favorite being in the last episode of Archer Season Three. Trapped on a space station orbiting Earth, Barry tracks Archer and company down, then calls them out with the line in question. American Dad! also did a great job in their homage to The Warriors as Steve and his friends try to escape their school through various gang turfs (drama geeks, Goths, stoners, etc.) with Principal Lewis filling the role of the DJ/narrator.

Like most films that achieve cult classic status, The Warriors was derided when released in theatres for its stylized violence, absurd dialogue, and borderline insane scenario. These are the same qualities that make it awesome today. The Warriors is definitely a ridiculous film filled with highly choreographed action that can barely be believed as actual gang fights. The idea of DJ being on air and narrating the whole ordeal as well as giving the pursuing New York gangs hints on where to go next is peculiar to a factor of ten. And there is quite literally a gang called the Baseball Furies that dress up like baseball players.

But the whole thing works marvellously in one bizarrely brilliant, over-the-top package.

This is not a film that you wacth for a deep, thought provoking plot or award-winning acting. This is the kind of film you sit down and love for the B-movie, cult classic genius it embodies. For me, it’s up there with the other cult classics like the original Evil Dead, The Big Lebowski, and This is Spinal Tap.

Inevitably, someone will soon adapt The Warriors into a play or give it a gritty reboot starring Colin Farrell. It was already adapted into a video game by Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption publisher Rockstar Games so that’s covered. If you haven’t seen what will soon be referred to as the original movie yet, I say unto you…

Spectator Tribune readers, come out and play!