Critic Reviews



Based on 16 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
Time Out London
Anyone expecting gritty realism will be disappointed, because Hill is offering something better: shooting entirely on NY locations at night, he has transformed the city into a phantasmagoric labyrinth of weird tribes in fantastic dress and make-up who move over (and under) the streets as untouched as troglodytes by the civilisation sleeping around them. Mixing ironic humour, good music, and beautifully photographed suspense, it's one of the best of 1979.
The Warriors is a deeply silly movie. Its gangs are ridiculous comic-book figures. Still, director Walter Hill treats its world with total seriousness. Bleak synthesizer drones thrum and throb. The streets glow with slickly inky-black greasiness. Nobody smiles. It’s so awesome.
The Warriors is a visual feast. Director Hill fills the frame with vibrant colors, bright lights, and nonstop motion. The uniforms of the various gangs are unique, funny, fearsome, and more than a bit theatrical. The exciting fight scenes are brilliantly choreographed, and instead of focusing on the violence, Hill concentrates on pure movement (most of the cast were actually dancers).
Hill, shooting by night and on location together with his OOP Andrew Laszlo, gives the film dazzling style. New York's oil-slicked streets become a labyrinth lit by pools of reflecting light, both scary and strangely beautiful - grimy realism it isn't. It also manages to humanize the gang-bangers to a surprising extent, illustrating the material and emotional poverty that forces them onto the streets in the first place.
The Warriors is a comic book morality tale, Westside Story crossed with A Clockwork Orange. The movie is so perversely fascinating in a variety of ways that it’s too bad the imagination demonstrated wasn’t used for something better than what turns out to be one more exploitation film in which the audience is encouraged to cheer the sights and sounds of mayhem.
The film is as handsome to watch as it is preposterous to listen to, full of gorgeous nocturnal city images that splash blaring neon colors against filthy, rain-slicked gray. Mr. Hill uses subways, jukeboxes, spectacularly eerie costumes and deserted streets to create a stark yet extravagant visual style, and a grimy little world in which everything looks curiously brand-new. Thanks to a lot of wipes and slow-motion shots, you are never in danger of forgetting that somebody clever is at the helm.
Walter Hill's existential action piece, rendered in a complete stylistic abstraction that will mean tough going for literal-minded audiences. Not quite the clean, elegant creation that his earlier films were, The Warriors admits to failures of conception (occasional) and dialogue (frequent), but there is much of value in Hill's visual elaboration of the material.
Theme of the pic, based on Sol Yurick’s 1965 novel, is a variation on countless westerns and war films. Update the setting to modern-day New York, and the avenues of escape to graffiti-emblazoned subway cars, and that’s The Warriors.
Village Voice
If the movie is not as dangerous as its detractors claim, neither is it as glorious and memorable as some of its less discriminating admirers would have it. I find the spectacle fading from my memory in a jumble of dislocated colors and motions. In retrospect, it seems too studiously unreal.
The Warriors is a real peculiarity, a movie about street gang warfare, written and directed as an exercise in mannerism. There's hardly a moment when we believe that the movie's gangs are real or that their members are real people or that they inhabit a real city. That's where the peculiarity comes in: I don't think we're supposed to. No matter what impression the ads give, this isn't even remotely intended as an action film. It's a set piece. It's a ballet of stylized male violence.

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