My friend Rachel and I were having a conversation about our favorite old movies, when I decided to look up some obscure fact online. It was then that I discovered that Roger Hill, who played Cyrus in the 1979 film "The Warriors" had passed away only the day before, on February 25th, 2014.
I still remember the first time I saw The Warriors. It was early in the morning, and I was watching by myself. It was raining, and the dark and gritty atmosphere of the movie captivated me. I was drawn in immediately- and the fear and uncertainty the titular Warriors felt while trying to "bop" all the way back home welled up in me as well.
The film was probably too dark for me then, at 9 years old, but I had seen my share of PG and R rated films by that time. But The Warriors was the first time I'd felt myself in the movie.
It drew me in, and I was hooked; a certified film nut for life. The Warriors, from that point on, was and remains my favorite movie- and I was deeply saddened to learn of Roger Hill's death.
So in honor of Roger Hill, allow me to present this list of 5 Great Street Gang Movies every film buff should see at least once.
#5 Rumble Fish
Francis Ford Coppola wrote the screenplay for Rumble Fish with S.E. Hinton, author of the novel of the same name, and shot it concurrently with The Outsiders- another film based on Hinton's work. The film, shot in black an white and showing influences of French and German artistic styles, tells the story of Rusty James, a hoodlum who wants to be as feared as his older brother Motorcycle Boy, a reformed gang leader who just wants to live a quiet, peaceful life.
The film was scored by Stewart Copeland, as famous for his many soundtracks as for his time in the band The Police.
There are a few differences between the book and the movie, but nothing to prevent you from enjoying this gritty coming of age tale.
#4 The Outsiders
The second film on this list by Francis Ford Coppola and S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders tells the story of Pony Boy and his family, brothers Sodapop and Darrel.
Pony Boy and his friends are known as Greasers, a gang of tough kids from the bad side of town, and are always ready to rumble against the Socs.
However, one night a fight goes terrible wrong, and Pony Boy (played by Thomas Howell) and Johnny Cade (played by Ralph Macchio) find themselves on the run from the law.
This film is practically a who's who of Brat Pack members, and helped kick off the B rat Pack craze (and series of films) in the '80s.
#3 The Warriors
The Warriors follows nine representatives from the Coney Island street gang as they make their way back to their home turf from Van Cortlandt park, on the other side of town, after a rival gang leader calls for a truce between gangs for a big meeting. The meeting does not go well, leaving the Warriors falsely accused of murder and being hunted by every gang in the city.
Dark, foreboding, and with a plethora of weird gangs to deal with, the New York City of this film is one of uncontrolled hostility and rage, led by disillusioned teens trapped in urban decay.
Can the Warriors make it back to Coney, or will they get picked up and brought to the Grammercy Riffs for some cold street justice?
If you're expecting anything but action and suspense, well, you're watching the wrong movie baby...
#2 New Jack City
Nino Brown (Wesley Snipes) is an up and coming drug kingpin, bringing crack into his neighborhood for the first time. Soon he is a rich man, but the cop (Ice-T) dedicated to bringing him down won't stop until Nino is dead or in jail.
This film tells the story of a kingpin's rise and fall from grace in the early days of crack trafficking, and features an all star cast: Mario Van Peebles, Judd Nelson, and Chris Rock are all featured performers, but its Ice-T and Wesley Snipes that make this film a must for any film buff with a deep yearning for action set to a hip hop soundtrack.
Speaking of the soundtrack, Al B. Sure, Johnny Gill, Keith Sweat and Color Me Badd, among others bring the best of that era's music to the forefront- making it a solid performer in its own right.
Colors was directed by Dennis Hopper some 18 years after the release of his Iconic film Easy Rider, relaunching his directorial career and sparking discussions about inner-city gang violence in America.
The film stars Sean Penn and Robert Duvall as L.A. cops trying to stem the violence between the Crips and the Bloods, and other gangs that inhabit their city.
The main focus of the film is the conflict between the rookie cop (Penn) and the older veteran officer (Duvall) as they partner together on the mean streets of L.A. county. The Veteran cop urges the young hotheaded rookie to learn the lessons he is trying to teach, but the young man is more interested in the notoriety his busts bring him. Will the veteran be able to turn the rookie around before its too late?
Herbie Hancock scored this one, and the soundtrack- full of the top hip hop artists of the day- was also a hit, reaching #31 on the Billboard charts.
So if you're looking for a good gang film to watch, choose one from this list and you'll be rumbling and throwing down in no time.
Can you dig it, suckahs?
Agree or disagree? Tell me in the comments below