Welcome to my column dedicated to the appreciation of physical media supplements called: Feature Presentations. The goal of this column is not to say whether a film is good or bad and worth picking up or not—I would like to highlight the discs that go the extra mile and provide film fans with enough tasty tidbits to satisfy even the hungriest of cinephiles. With all that out of the way, today’s article will focus on the two-disc box set of The Warriors from Imprint Films.
How can you not love Walter Hill‘s The Warriors? A product of its time, the film is a fast-paced action thriller adapting the novel of the same name by Sol Yurick, which in turn was an adaptation of the Greek tale by Xenophon. The film follows the titular street gang, The Warriors, as they make their way through the dangerous streets of 1970’s New York City in a battle of survival against every street gang imaginable. Mayhem, action, and the flashiest gang members you’ve ever seen fly!
The Warriors has had an intriguing home video release. In 2005, the film debuted on DVD as a Director’s Cut that edited the theatrical print, including adding comic panels and was received negatively by most fans of The Warriors. Thankfully, Imprint Films stepped up to the plate this year and released not just; the Director’s Cut but the long-awaited Theatrical Cut on Blu-ray! For those who enjoy The Warriors, this author included, it is a day to celebrate!
Going all out the way Imprint Films does, The Warriors got the special treatment, with both versions getting their own dedicated disc. Each disc comes in individual cases—both come in a sturdy, top-loading cardboard box with custom artwork. It’s a sight to behold.
The Director’s Cut ports over the features from the 2005 DVD release along with a newly-recorded 2022 audio commentary with author/historian Chris Poggiali and former editor of Fangoria/author Michael Gingold. Poggiali and Gingold make for a listenable duo as they run through the film’s rocky production, location shoots, and the controversy surrounding the initial release.
The rest of the disc’s supplemental material are legacy features. The disc kicks off with an introduction from Walter Hill. He briefly touches upon why he went back to update the film for the Director’s Cut. It’s short and to the point.
The rest of the disc’s features are a four-part documentary that traces the film from its origins through the phenomenon of 2005 when the DVD released. The featurettes feature contributions from Hill, producer Lawrence Gordon, actors Michael Beck, James Remar and Deborah Van Valkenburgh, among others, as they reminisce and document the film’s production. Just as in 2005, this multi-part documentary does its job and gives fans enough information to make this a worthwhile addition to this disc.
The Theatrical Cut disc features the bulk of the package’s extras. First up is a collection of deleted scenes from the television version. While the video quality is rough, having these scenes make for a welcome addition. Even if exercising most is the correct call, it’s interesting to see these moments. The most interesting comes from the alternate opening featuring Pamela Poitier and extended dialogue from Cyrus. As mentioned, deleting these is the right call, but having these as a feature is appreciated.
“Sound and Fury: Scoring The Warriors” is an interview with composer Barry De Vorzon from Ballyhoo Motion Pictures. De Vorzon speaks about his work on the film’s soundtrack, including; how Walter Hill helped with the main titles, using music to quell violence with the Furies, and his disappointment when real-world violence caused the film to leave theaters.
“Last Train to Coney Island” is a newly-recorded interview with actor David Patrick Kelly. Kelly recounts his early acting career discussing how Hill and Gordon discovered him on Broadway, his appreciation for the film’s source material, and his inspiration for the infamous “Warriors…come out to play” chant, which comes from unfortunate circumstances. Kelly has an affinity for the film; and its source material, and that love translates well throughout this interview.
“We Got the Streets” is an interview with actor James Remar. While there are stories rehashed from the four-part documentary on the Director’s Cut disc, including his audition as Ajax, there’s much more. Remar spends the first few minutes discussing the hardships he faced getting into acting before diving into what he brought into his role. He’s open and honest while recounting his experience on The Warriors and speaks highly about his time on set.
“Nowhere to Run” is an interview with actor Dorsey Wright. Wright is an entertaining interviewee as he fondly looks back on his time during The Warriors’ production. He recounts tales of James Remar not breaking character—even if getting a hamburger in the Bronx, his surprising reaction to The Warriors film poster, and the issues real-life gangs caused during filming. I liked this interview as it balanced humorous tales with behind-the-scenes anecdotes.
“Literally Classic: The Ancient Greek Roots of The Warriors” is a featurette with Bryant Kirkland, who dives into the Greek history that inspired the 1979 film. As someone who has not read the book by Sol Yurick or is not overly familiar with the Greek tale, this feature was a lovely listen. Kirkland takes a measured approach as he discusses Xenophon’s Anabasis in-depth and measures the stories with how The Warriors play out. It’s a fascinating discussion to see how closely parts of the film stayed to the Greek work and the changes made to update with 1970’s New York City. In terms of detail, “Literally Classic” is my favorite feature of this package.
“Magic… Whole Lot of Magic” is a video essay by Chris O’Neill. This breakdown over the film adds a layer of additional context, but I’ve had issues with the voiceover artist on other bonus features. I’m chalking this up to me, but the voice is grating and takes me out of listening to what Chris O’Neill is trying to say. I am not knocking Claire Loy, as her voiceover narration works for most people, but not myself.
The Warriors’ Scrapbook is a photo gallery featuring extensive shots from the finished film, behind-the-scenes stills, marketing photos, and additional goodies. I’m not going to lie; this might be the most comprehensive photo compilation I’ve seen in a physical media release.
The Theatrical Cut comes with a newly-recorded 2022 audio commentary with film critic/author Walter Chaw. He flies solo but comes prepared and fills almost the runtime with details, thoughts, and analysis. Chaw gets into the friction between Hill and actor Thomas G. Waites, the sense of geography Walter Hill employs in the film, and the samurai and western influences woven throughout the movie. Chaw’s commentary, along with the track from Poggiali and Gingold on the Director’s Cut, creates a one-two punch of in-depth analysis that fans of The Warriors will enjoy!
The disc concludes with a television spot and the film’s theatrical trailer.
A minor quibble I have comes with the art wraps on each case. The Director’s Cut features the original theatrical design, while the Theatrical Cut features an alternate layout. I feel it’s backward, and the Theatrical Cut deserves the original one-sheet. It’s a trivial nitpick.
And there you have it! Whew, what a package! Imprint Films went all out and crafted one of the finest physical media releases of 2022. Allowing fans of The Warriors to own the Theatrical and Director’s Cuts in one package is appreciated, and filling each disc with features new and old is to be commended. It’s a hell of a release, and I can’t recommend the Imprint Films Blu-ray release of The Warriors highly enough!