An obscure book became a cult classic. A film that spawned a life of its own on video and cable through endless nights and it’s all in the name of 9 representatives from Brooklyn on one night and on the run. Director Walter Hill’s vision of non stop racing with the clock amongst one group is dark, fun and at times exciting and a few adjustments have been made on the in between that, according to director Hill ,demonstrates what he had in mind at that time. It’s a night of the future, it’s activity at it’s highest, it’s The Warriors Ultimate Director’s Cut.
A meeting is called in the Bronx and nine members of various gangs are chosen to represent themselves at this meeting in the wide open. One such group is some vested cronies from Coney Island called The Warriors. Everything goes smoothly discussing keeping a general truce amongst gangs in New York until a sudden turn of events causes all hell to break loose and the finger by one weasily individual named Luther (David Patrick Kelly) pointed directly at The Warriors for causing this turn. Now as a result of this, our group is racing back to make it home, but getting there is the hard part as each turn and move are followed by another gang that has the word out on them for their “act”.
It’s still hard for this viewer to believe that this film was shot in a period of months. The film is so well put together and edited that I could’ve sworn that it was filmed on the course of one night.
Aside from that, this film takes a simple premise and what could seem to be an average B movie becomes an edge of your seat thriller that never lets up and always leaves room for a classic line without sounding obvious. It’s an ensemble piece and each gang has their own unique look which is brought to the table every time The Warriors come into a new piece of turf.
From beginning to end, the audience want these kids to make it back even though the trip will be rough as it is. And the film is not afraid to have some cemented moments with a beer bottle or with a eloquent chant. Also, Hill takes a page out of the book of Peckinpah in certain scenes (which coincidentally he wrote the screenplay to Bloody Sam’s “Getaway”)
And it doesn’t hurt that the music set to this very little night fits not only that time but the film itself thanks to scoreman Barry DeVorizon and his mix keeping the fast pace up as much as the trains these guys have to travel on.
Now my take on this film is very good, but what about the added elements to this in this Ultimate Director’s Cut. Well the “additions” are small and don’t include deleted footage that have been seen in television presentations of the film and its evident that a small intro has been included in this. Does it make the film better? No. At the same time, it certainly doesn’t make it worse either but it is good to see the intended angle, which is a good one and is used at the right times rather than too much as the case is usually when doing a directors cut.
It’s because of the minimal changes that both remain on the same level for this viewer not taking away or adding anything that is this trip in the night full of boppin and a mysterious DJ leading the way. The Warriors is fun, trippy and a blast which gets better on each viewing.
Video: How does it look?
This is the second go-around for this film and the picture quality on this 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen frame has never looked better. Granted, the look of the film is the same look of that time with its darkness and its brand of film stock that keeps the film a product of its time. On this transfer however, there isn’t a scratch or little hints of grain as the print is extremely clean and free from most print flaws that plague the films of the seventies and early eighties. From the red of the Warriors title to the face paint on the Baseball furies, the look is executed without much muting or bleeding. All around, a top visual job indeed.
Audio: How does it sound?
Also impressive is the Dolby Digital 5.1 track which retains the score and amplifies it at the right time despite the limitations of the material from the time. The train traveling sounds slightly muted but never too much like many films before DVD. This is evident at the opening meeting when the yells of the gang members can be heard slightly better here than in the previous release. Although there is no original track on this disc, the tracks that are included on this are here and they compliment the film nicely. This disc also has an English 2.0 and French Mono track along with English and Spanish subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Along with the additions to this new cut of this film, the theatrical trailer from the previous release is carried over in it’s same state represented nicely with it’s seventies synthesizer music (actually a track from Sorcerer).
And new to the Warriors title, we have an introduction by Walter Hill. He tells of his intentions and that this is the film he wanted to make on this cut which is interesting with added technology not adding distraction to a point of a change in opinion (not to this viewer anyway). Its also interesting because before this, I never had seen what Walter Hill looked like until this DVD so it’s good to see a director that’s been responsible with some classics along 2 decades.
In addition, there are four featurettes by DVD documentarian Laurent Bouzereau and they all chronicle the different periods of this film with most of the cast along with a good deal of crew that have gone on to bigger things are all included in all 4 and each featurette panels off for another in it’s intended additions. (Where’s Cyrus and the rest of the Warriors?)
In The Beginning, god created beast and man, and on this DVD the Warriors were created as the elements of how the film came to be in pre-production, casting, costuming and goes into shooting which leads into….
Battleground which continues shooting the film along with the obstacles of filming in New York City along with lighting choices made by “First Blood” cinematographer Andrew Laszlo which lights up to reveal….
The Way Home covering the fights between gangs and the action of the piece with some in between thrown in in the form of the evolution of some of the classic quotes from this film which breaks out into….
The Phenomenon with shooting complete, a finished film, and rememberance by all of the overall package with the result of the publics reaction and distraction from the film and only showing one deleted scene that was intended to start the movie off. Even though it’s nicely shot, it didn’t fit and it was right to cut it but the boardwalk and the sun in Coney Island never looked so good.
In all four is a total of a little more than an hour of material and as a whole is the closest thing to a commentary or a viewpoint from director Walter Hill and the participants (at one point this release was to have a commentary by Hill and deleted scenes but none are evident anywhere else on the DVD, especially on the intro making it understandable for the commentaries exclusion). If only there was a play all function on this, it would make it easier for us all. Aside from that, an excellent job giving us all we need to know about the making of The Warriors.
There are also previews for other Paramount DVD releases including P. Diddy’s Kings of Comedy, the new Airplane Don’t Call Me Shirley edition, Hustle & Flow, MacGyver, and George Lopez: Why You Crying?? along with a preview of the upcoming Warriors video game
The only thing that’s missing from this release is the original version of the film (which at the time of this review is out of print). Even the upcoming version of Sin City is good enough in it’s visual intentions to include both versions and it would’ve been a welcome addition for both to compare and contrast and the world is big enough for both to exist on DVD. This is the only flaw of an otherwise solid release from Paramount.
Despite that missing piece, the Warriors Ultimate Directors Cut benefits from a great look, just the right amount of extras and a killer flick that is not hurt by the little modern day touches given to it and it comes very well recommended.