The cult New York manhunt from the producer of Alien

Walter Hill, the producer of the saga Alien, hit the end of the 70s creating a timeless brand of counterculture: Warriors of the night.

Neither grandmaster, nor yes-man without vision, Walter Hill was unclassifiable in the vast landscape of American cinema of the 1970s, in full effervescence. Although he is known to some moviegoers for his participation in the saga Alien as producer and screenwriter (it is to him and to David Giler to whom we owe the character of Ash in the first film), the director of more than 70 years has furnished himself with a beautiful filmography with successes (Driver, Without return), but also failures (Lead in the head) by never letting go of an iron will comparable to that of Richard Fleischer (Green Sun, The Boston Strangler) or a Peter Yates (Bullit).

This personality apart from the Hollywood circuit, sometimes put forward for the making of buddy movies 48 hours and 48 hours more, is rarely mentioned when we talk about American cinema of the 70s and 80s. And that’s a shame, because in addition to his work as a screenwriter and producer on the saga Alien, Walter Hill has managed to make a little gem telling the story of a group of small strikes (the Warriors), wrongly accused of the murder of a gang leader and who finds himself in spite of himself pursued during a whole night in the middle of heart of the big apple. Warriors of the night (The Warriors in English), a typical exploitation film, has since entered the short list of cult works of several generations.

“Come out to play”, this replica improvised by Luther, played by David Patrick Kelly, has, we can say, made its hole in popular culture by capturing in particular a whole American hip-hop scene nostalgic for this manhunt. For example, the group Wu Tang Clan and Puff Daddy both paid tribute by quoting this line in one of their track. But the influence of Warriors did not stop at the music scene since everyone’s favorite family, The Simpsons, parodied during one episode the feature film by resuming its complete frame.

The New York chiaroscuro style

Do not let your son hang

At first glance, the intrinsic coolness of the film, due to the diversity of gang outfits and a concentration of violence (for the time), comes from the desire of its director: to make his own western. Certainly small traces of this idea appear when we look at the outfits of the Warriors. Some are highlighted with feathers or necklaces reminiscent of the clothing clichés of the Amerindians.

About the visual style, Walter Hill has learned lessons from his passage in the scenario box on the side of Sam Peckinpah. The producer ofAlien was more specifically the screenwriter of Apens watch and the stylization of violence, made of slow motion, a great trademark of his “master”, certainly inspired him for his treatment of fighting in Warriors of the night. Many falls are accompanied by a long slow motion very close to those of The Savage Horde which served to accentuate the outburst of violence in the action.

Yet another unexpected legacy mingles with the spirit of young New York delinquency. The author of the eponymous novel Sol Yurick had indeed for main influence the account adapted by Xenophon: Anabase. Following a false accusation of conspiracy against his brother king of Persia Ataxerxes II, Cyrus the younger hired an army made up of Greeks (the Ten Thousand) to help him retake the throne of Persia. Obviously against the Persian army, Cyrus and the Ten Thousand lost. These Greek warriors then began a long expedition back to their native land and thus escaped Ataxerxes II.

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