THE WARRIORS by Sol Yurick [Book Review]


THE WARRIORS by Sol Yurick
Available from The Book Depository

On the 4th of July, warrior gangs from across the New York travel to the Van Cortlandt park in the Bronx for a meeting spearheaded by Delancey Thrones chief, Ismael, the most well respected gang leader in all the city. When the meeting is gatecrashed by the police and Ismael is fatally shot, the Coney Island Dominators must figure a way back to their home, 15 miles away, without being caught by the police. Unarmed and with the gang truce no longer stable, the Dominators must also survive the night from other gangs who’s turf they must cross to return to Coney Island.

When you mention The Warriors, most people, myself included, think of the hit Walter Hill movie from 1979. Little did I realise that the movie was actually inspired by the book of the same name written by Sol Yurick during the 60’s. So how much is the film like the book? In truth, just the barebones idea from the novel remains, with a lot of the gang scuffles and action added for the movie. There’s quite a lot of differences between the two mediums that it’d be hard to list them all. The main ones are that the names of the characters are different, as are the gangs. In the book, Swan is known as Hector, Ajax as Lunkface and Rembrandt as Hinton. Instead of The Warriors, they are the Coney Island Dominators, but to each other, they are known as the Family, with Arnold the Father, the leader of the group, who in the film is known as Cleon. Cyrus, leader of The Riffs, replaces Ismael of the Delancey Thrones, who is killed at the meeting, but unlike in the film where The Warriors are framed for the murder and are subsequently hunted by every gang in New York, the Dominators are not framed and neither is any other gang. The gangs at the meet have to just do their best to make it home without bopping or being caught by the fuzz.

What really strikes me about the difference between the book and the film is that the gang in the book are just kids between the ages of 14 to 16. Disillusioned with life and the unattainable dreams of a big car, flashy house and supermodel wife, these juvenile delinquents form gangs, their own families, in the neighbourhood and hang out and fight together which gives them a sense of importance and power on the street. Despite their young age, the Dominators are not a crew to be messed with, as gang rape and murder of innocents is not out of their reach or moral code. This brutal edge to the story makes the gang unlikable, whereas the film has an older gang, in their 20s, who are still rough and ready but don’t appear to hurt innocents, though a sexual appetite is displayed, particularly with the character of Ajax who mimics the characteristics of the novel’s counterpart, Lunkface.

The young boys in Sol Yurick’s story are quite immature despite their yearning to prove themselves as men to each other, other gangs and the Other (citizens not in gangs). The language used by Yurick is in keeping with the kids’ lingo and the quarrels between the group and playful ribbing reflects their youth and inexperience. Despite this, the Dominators, as with other gangs on the streets, present a great threat with a ruthless mindset that as a pack, a gang, a family, they are indestructable and can do anything. They are the ones with the power.

At 180 pages, The Warriors is a short and easy novel to read, as long as you get your head around the lingo used in the book. The book published by Souvenir Press also comes with an afterword from the author who describes his inspiration for The Warriors story, its publication and his thoughts and reaction on the movie adaption of his work.

As a big fan of the movie, I preferred it more than the book due to its content, which is much more jucier and fleshed out that the book, but the novel is far more shocking and brutal than the film ever was which would have been classed extreme during its original publication during the 60s. In that respect, the two mediums represent two different stories with the skeleton of the plot shared between the two. For fans of the movie, it’s worth checking out the book, with its focus on respect, honour and loyalty between these kids, but don’t expect it to be filled with gang battles like the film.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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About Bat 4417 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Yakuza Zero and Mafia III.

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