FOOTAGE FETISHES: “THE WARRIORS”

“You look like you might even like it.”
The first obstacle the Warriors encounter on the long trek home are the Turnbull A.C.s: skinheaded toughs who cruise the city streets in a school bus modified to allow the maximum amount of gang members to hang uncomfortably from the exterior. After a brief but exciting chase scene, where the Turnbulls belatedly realize the weight of their numbers has hampered their bus’ acceleration, the Warriors board their train and are in the clear.
Or not. Angered at the Turnbull A.C.s’ incompetence, the Riffs (we assume) start a fire on the train tracks, forcing the Warriors to disembark and proceed to the next station on foot. Before long, they face their greatest test: Deborah Van Valkenburgh.
Even if you don’t remember Van Valkenburgh from “Free Enterprise” or the lost classic “Brain Smasher…A Love Story,” you can’t help but look back fondly on her stint in the classic Ted Knight series, “Too Close for Comfort.” There she played the “smart daughter,” Jackie, who was constantly getting caught up in Monroe’s crazy schemes. Her role as Mercy in “The Warriors” isn’t that much different, truthfully, except she’s in the Bronx, not San Francisco…and she trades verbal jabs with Swan, not Monroe…oh, and she’s a total skank. Mercy is what I picture Rita Moreno’s sleazy little sister would’ve looked like in “West Side Story,” if the Jets and Sharks had acted at all like actual gangs instead of serving as the inspiration for Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”
Mercy hangs out with (read: gives it up to) a sad little outfit of chess club members dubbed the Orphans. The Warriors easily drive them off with a well-placed Molotov cocktail before boarding the train home again, though now with Mercy in tow. They make it as far as their transfer station before the cops inconveniently show up and chase them off. Here, the gang splits up into two groups who will have their own separate adventures for about a half hour. All except Fox, that is, who tussles with a policeman while trying to protect Mercy and – in a thinly veiled swipe at the NYPD’s brutality, is thrown in front of an oncoming train.
Swing, batter
But it’s too late for goodbyes, as Julian Lennon once said. The first Warriors splinter group (which we’ll call Alpha Team), composed of Vermin, Cochise, and Rembrandt, hook up with a female gang called the Lizzies inside the train station. Meanwhile, Team Strike Force (Swan, Cowboy, Snow, and Ajax) bail from the station entirely and run smack into the Baseball Furies.
As a kid – for whom the ultimate personification of evil so far in his life had been a tall asthmatic in a black samurai helmet – the Baseball Furies were hella cool. I don’t know if the reverse image effect of their face paint was indicative of some kind of Jungian conflict, or if they were intended to be the ancestors of Bele and Lokai from “Star Trek,” but they were pretty freaky to a ten-year old. Also, unlike the other gangs, they wore a recognizably non-disco ensemble (baseball uniforms), and they fought with bats.
Trouble is, they just weren’t that good at swinging them (kind of like this year’s Yankees, come to think of it). They chase the Warriors until Cowboy decides he can’t run any further (if this movie is to be believed, just about any member of a New York street gang could anchor the Olympic 4×100 team), giving Ajax the chance to show his moves. At the same time, “field marshal” Swan executes a magnificent running pincer move that fakes the remaining Baseball Furies out of their jocks. In a trice, Swan and company have mopped up twice their number in Furies, taken their bats (how’s that for symbolism?), and started back to the station.
Surely Alpha Team is doing better at this juncture? After all, they’ve just accompanied a bunch of women dressed like Melissa Etheridge back to a deserted bar…what could possibly go wrong? Plenty, as it turns out, for after luring them into a relaxed state with promises of pre-safe sex era nookie, the Lizzies spring their cunning trap. The going gets hairy for the Warriors for a time, especially since the Lizzies are in possession of two of the three guns in the entire movie. Luckily, they shoot like stormtroopers, and after a lucky escape, a chagrined Alpha Team heads back to the train.
Get the rest of the story in part three of FOOTAGE FETISHES: “THE WARRIORS”>>>




Posted on November 19, 2003 in Features by
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