Walter Hill’s hip, super-stylized action film unfurls in a dystopian near-future, when various gangs control New York City. Each gang sports a unique moniker (‘The Warriors,’ ‘The Baseball Furies,’ ‘The Rogues’), with a costume underscoring its “theme”; each, in turn, is also responsible for one geographic area. Hill sets up the landscape as a massive, violent playground – replete with bridges, vacant subway tunnels, parks, abandoned buildings and the like, all ripe for exploration and adventure. As the tale opens, the titular Coney Island has traveled to the Bronx to attend a city-wide meeting of all gangs; at that event, however, the psychotic leader of a rival gang, The Rogues (David Patrick Kelly of Dreamscape) assassinates the head of the city’s foremost gang, but The Warriors are pegged as culpable. This sends the gang fleeing through the labyrinthine city. With every thug in Manhattan in vicious, homicidal pursuit, they must also overcome all obstacles in their way. Throughout, Hill keeps the onscreen violence absurd, exaggerated and unrealistic, downplaying death to an extreme degree; despite this fact, the film sparked a massive amount of controversy and an ugly backlash for allegedly inciting violence and destruction in several theaters where it initially played. James Remar, Michael Beck and Deborah Van Valkenburgh lead the ensemble cast.
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