New York street gang, The Warriors, are falsely accused of killing another big-time gang leader and have to brave the now totally hostile streets of their city to get back to their turf.
Walter Hill adopts a street gang's POV as they battle across New York to Coney Island pursued by the city's other hoodlum hordes after being framed for an assassination. The gangs themselves are outright camp, and if The Warriors' members look and move like refugees from Fame, it's because most of them were professional dancers. But 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 humanise thegang-bangers to a surprising extent, illustrating the material and emotional poverty that forces them onto the streets in the first place.
But the times they were a-changing. By the end of the '80s a new administration had New York's crime plague in remission, with street violence down by over half. The violent urban drama took the red eye west and relocated itself among the barrios and slum-suburbs of California. In Colors (1988) the gangland warfare was fought on the streets of Compton, and the next time Snake Plissken would escape from anywhere, it would be from L.A.
Very dated look at street crime in pre-Guiliani New York, which is more of a camp historical document than a thrilling ride