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Paramount Home Video presents
The Warriors: Ultimate Director's Cut (1979)

"Can you dig it?!"
- Cyrus (Roger Hill)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: October 03, 2005

Stars: Michael Beck, James Remar, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, Marcelino Sanchez, David Harris
Other Stars: Tom Mc Kitterick, Brian Tyler, Dorsey Wright, Terry Michos, David Patrick Kelly, Roger Hill, Edward Sewer, Lynne Thigpen, Mercedes Ruehl
Director: Walter Hill

MPAA Rating: R for (violence, language)
Run Time: 01h:33m:56s
Release Date: October 04, 2005
UPC: 097360313840
Genre: cult


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A B+AA B+

DVD Review

They just don't, and really can't, make good gang movies anymore. Back in the '70s and '80s, these projects were seemingly everywhere. We saw gangs in cheesy '80s flicks like Enter the Dragon and those wonderfully awful break dancing movies of the era. Even musicals like Grease and West Side Story had gang elements to them. The difference between the era that these films were released in and today's society is that gangs weren't viewed as a danger to innocent bystanders back then. These days, real-life gangs don't always care about who gets in their way. Drive-by shootings in South Central Los Angeles and other urban areas have claimed the lives of many innocent women and children, and Hollywood has fortunately shied away from bringing such incidents to the big screen. There were a few such projects in the 1990s (Boyz 'N the Hood, Juice), but in the new millennium, the only gangs in film are the mafia.

The 1979 cult classic The Warriors is the quintessential street gang film. This Walter Hill-helmed picture, based on a novel by Sol Yurick as well as an ancient Greek story, takes us deep into the New York City gang culture, one in which an individual is defined by the clothes on his (or her) back. This clothing made the gangs of The Warriors poster boys for 70s fashion, and is mostly responsible for the film's cult status. The titular gang wears leather vests, while others don attire ranging from baseball uniforms (with Kiss-style face paint), to ragged jean jackets, and even just plain T-shirts with their gang's name embroidered on them. The hair styles are unmistakably '70s as well, and, though ugly by today's standards, they are great to look at from a nostalgia standpoint.

The story is pretty basic, and involves a gang rally at which the keynote speaker, Cyrus (Roger Hill), is shot while trying to unite them all with a truce. He's killed by Luther (David Patrick Kelly), the leader of the Rogues, who instantly blames the murder on the Warriors. Their leader, Swan (Michael Beck) learns his gang is being framed, and must find a way to safely get his boys back to their Coney Island home. This isn't easy, as Swan is constantly clashing with fellow Warrior Ajax (James Remar), other gangs, and the police that he encounters along the way.

A big key to the film's success is its distinguishing look. The gritty streets of New York provide the backdrop, and it's a perfect one for the material. These are all the most unspectacular parts of New York, and they only enhance the dark, urban themes.

While the film is supposed to be taken seriously, the acting and particularly the line delivery make it difficult to hold back snickers. This new director's cut doesn't change the unintentionally comedic acting, but it does lend a bit more seriousness to the story, in the form of a new intro that ties the plot to a Greek legend. Also, the film's scene transitions are now presented in the form of comic book illustrations, giving it a pulp feel along the lines of Sin City. Otherwise, there isn't really any new footage, making this a truly unique kind of director's cut.

While this isn't an artsy, sophisticated, thinking-man's film by any stretch, there's a very poignant moment where the Warriors are on a subway and some couples who seem to have just come from a high school dance get on board. With the vastly different people sitting directly across from each other, the Warriors gaze at the high-schoolers, seemingly thinking of what their lives may have been like had they been as lucky. The high school kids seem very happy and content with their lives, while all the Warriors can do is get off the subway and head to their next bloody fight.

The Warriors: Ultimate Director's Cut is being released, conveniently, around the same time that a video game adaptation is coming out (from Rockstar Games, the studio responsible for the controversial, gang-related hit, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas). Director Tony Scott is also planning a filmed remake. Hopefully both projects can capture the essence of this cult classic.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is a huge improvement over the previous release. The colors have been fine tuned to perfection, allowing the colorful costumes to be as visually effective as they were designed to be. I'm surprised at how little grain and dirt is on display; the degree of image detail and sharpness clearly benefits.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoFrenchyes
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: There's both a Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 mix, and while the 2.0 might appeal to purists, the 5.1 is the way to go. Barry De Vorzon's great score is very effective, with music coming from all of the speakers throughout. There isn't much bass, but a bit does come into play during the action sequences. The sound effects are very realistic, whether we're talking about wooden baseball bats clashing during a battle, or the flesh on bone of a punch to the face. The dialogue is always easy to understand, and blends well into both audio mixes.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 14 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring P.Diddy's Bad Boys of Comedy, Airplane!: Don't Call Me Shirley Edition, Hustle & Flow, MacGyver: The Complete Fourth Season, George Lopez: Why Are You Crying?, The Godfather Collection
3 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Introduction by Walter Hill
Extras Review: This DVD was a long-time coming, so seeing a decent collection of extras wasn't much of a surprise. It is somewhat shocking that an audio commentary track isn't here, but we do get a video introduction by director Walter Hill. This short, minute-long clip finds Hill explaining why he usually doesn't like doing such DVD introductions. He then goes on to talk about what makes this new cut different from the original version.

The four featurettes almost make up for the lack of an audio commentary, as all of them are very insightful about where The Warriors stands in the pop culture scheme of things.

The Warriors: The Beginning is a 14-minute segment that talks about the graphic novel that the film was based on. Hill and other behind-the-scenes people talk about the influences that a story of Greek warriors had on the picture as well.

The Warriors: Battleground is 15 minutes long, and is all about the locations where the movie was filmed. We hear from more cast and crew members, who talk about what it was like to shoot in the subway and how hard it was to pull off the opening sequence.

The Warriors: The Way Home is 18 minutes of more talk about the film, including a discussion with costume designer Bobbie Mannix about how the Baseball Furies gang got their look from the band of the moment, Kiss.

The last piece, The Warriors: The Phenomenon lasts for 15 minutes, and is the most reflective of the bunch, focusing on what The Warriors meant to the careers of those who were directly involved in it. There's also some time devoted to Lynne Thigpen, who played the radio DJ in the film, and her impact on the cast.

We also find the original theatrical trailer, as well as previews for other Paramount Home Video releases and a video game is based on the film.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

Finally getting the proper treatment on DVD, The Warriors: Ultimate Director's Cut looks to solidify the film's status as one of the most beloved cult classics of all time. Fans are sure to be pleased with its excellent looking video transfer and solid audio remix. Some great featurettes close out the package, resulting in a well-rounded release that is a must-buy for film lovers.

 


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