Director Walter Hill has long considered “The Warriors” to be something of a living comic book. Now, with this Ultimate Director’s Cut release, Hill is using the technology afforded him today to give his film something of a facelift. With the inclusion comic book style panels, an all new opening narration, and some editing tweaks, Hill’s classic street gang saga has been reborn as a colorfully allegoric classic for a new generation of “boppers”, made all the more visually impressive by its debut in the Blu-ray format.
The Bronx is a war-zone populated by thousands of garishly dressed "armies of the night" with names like The Ducky Boys, The Turnbull AC's, The Baseball Furies, and of course, The Warriors. The gangs outnumber the city’s police five to one, and Gramercy Riff’s leader Sirus’ vision is for all of the gangs to work together as one, and take over the city’s criminal enterprises. He calls a meeting, inviting 9 delegates from each gang make the pilgrimage to the Bronx to hear his speech ("Can you dig it? Caaaaaaaaaaaan Yoooooooooou Dig it?"), but some killjoy ruins the party by shooting ol Sirus mid "Dig it!". Unbeknownst to them, The Warriors have been framed for the assassination, and find themselves fighting their way, through one gang at a time, back to their turf on Coney Island.
I wasn’t really prepared for this revamped version of one of my favorite films from the 1970’s, and, to be honest, I didn’t much like it when I first saw it on DVD awhile back until after I heard Walter Hill’s reasoning for his new cut. I watched it again, and I began to see what it was he was getting at, and, to paraphrase Sirus, I ended up really digging it! It doesn’t really tonally affect the film one way or the other, and it is admittedly cool to see an old B-movie treasure like this get a little bit of a touch up.
Paramount’s Blu-ray release of The Warriors: The Ultimate Director’s Cut features the same extras afforded to the DVD release of the film. There’s over an hour’s worth of featurettes that feature interviews with cast and crew, deleted scenes (like an entirely omitted opening sequence), and some great behind-the-scenes photographs and stories. The featurettes cover everything from concept to creation, as well as the undeserved backlash that led to the film’s removal from theaters. Like a lot of the first generation Blu-ray releases, the extras aren’t in HD (save, of course, for the animated menus), but they’re still well worth watching and it’s great to catch up with the film’s principal actors and creative team.
The Warriors is still a blast to watch, and, while the “comic book” style treatment may put off purists, I think it really compliments Hill’s colorfully campy tale, and adds a whole new dimension to the movie. The print has never looked better, as the Blu-ray transfer delivers crisp details and wonderfully vivid colors. The uncompressed Dolby 5.1 track makes that classic seventies synth soundtrack vibrate the floorboards. This is probably as definitive an edition of this film as you’re about to see, although I wouldn’t have minded an optional “classic cut” of the film thrown in as a Blu-ray bonus feature, especially given the amount of space the medium holds. Still, the movie looks and sounds phenomenal, and is well worth the upgrade.