There are few Hollywood thrillers that better represent the creativity and eccentricity of the late 1970s than Walter Hill’s The Warriors, a wild ride chase through New York City, clinging onto the coattails of the most violent gangs in the whole of the stylised city. Based on the book of the same name by Sol Yurick, Hill transformed the realistic story into something far more fantastical, filling the streets of the city with 21 separate gangs, each with their own traits and personalities.
Although the film follows the titular ‘Warriors’ as they escape the wrong end of New York whilst being pursued by deadly gangs and ruthless law enforcement, plenty of other groups are also referenced throughout the film, from the villainous ‘Rouges’ to the idiosyncratic ‘The Baseball Furies’. Each with their own visual cues, including top hats, painted faces or striking leather outfits, director Walter Hill creates a vibrant melting pot of colourful ‘70s energy.
Nearing the 45th anniversary of the film’s release, The Warriors is still considered a cult classic, with its fantastical elements standing the test of time in a modern cinematic taste that thirsts for nostalgia. To pay tribute to the beloved, though often forgotten classic, we thought we’d take a look back at the 21 gangs of the film and give them the credit they deserve for their dashing costumes and peculiar personalities.
The 21 gangs of The Warriors, ranked from worst to best:
21. ‘The Saracens’
Taking charge of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn together with The Jones Street Boys, The Saracens have a spotted history with many of the other gangs, though share a close friendship with The Warriors. Appearing only a few times in the background of several scenes, the gang members each wear silver chains and black vests with a white lining.
They’re not particularly intimidating.
20. ‘The Hurricanes’
Arch-rivals of The Boppers, much like many of the gangs far down on this list, The Hurricanes don’t appear a great deal throughout The Warriors, and fail to truly make their mark in the vibrant makeup of the film either.
With weaved fedoras, The Hurricanes control Spanish Harlem as a family of hustlers and swindlers who would probably prefer a rough and tough brawl over a knife fight.
19. ‘The Van Cortlandt Rangers’
Mortal enemies of The Moonrunners, The Van Cortlandt Rangers wore black and white striped long sleeve t-shirts and fedoras, with their attire doing little to intimidate their enemies. Controlling Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, the gang, also known as the VC Rangers, weren’t too far from The Moonrunners at the Trainyard in Pelham.
18. ‘The Boyle Avenue Runners’
Looking a little like The Warriors themselves, The Boyle Avenue Runners are one of the only gangs in the film known to operate out of Astoria Queens.
Spotted at the start of the film when a montage of gangs are shown travelling through the subway, the gang wear black vests with a red lining, as well as other pieces of outlandish headwear, including hats and headbands.
17. ‘The Gladiators’
Largely unexplored in the 1979 movie, The Gladiators control the territory of Canarsie, Brooklyn and can be spotted by their black and navy vests. Seen at the summit of New York Gangs, the gang also show up at the start of the film where they are seen filing into the subway system one by one as a member slots coins into the machine.
It’s not the sort of behaviour you would expect of a violent gang.
16. ‘The Savage Huns’
Claiming Chinatown as their own, The Savage Huns are spotted twice throughout the film, both in the introduction when they’re waiting at the subway, then again at the summit. Large in numbers, the Huns are skilled in Martial Arts, having proved themselves as one of the toughest gangs in the whole of New York, being able to withstand huge amounts of pain.
With three quarter length trousers and matching dark green tops, the gang are short on style.
15. ‘The Moonrunners’
Competing for the prize of the coolest crest with The Satans Mothers, The Moonrunners sport shiny silver jackets in their stomping ground of Pelham. With a fondness for painting and spraying their tag around the city, the gang aren’t averse to a brawl if they have to, despite them not appearing throughout the film, apart from the famous subway scene that involves most gangs in the film.
14. ‘The Panzers’
If this fantastical version of New York ever became a warzone, The Panzers would have a head start, with their outfits simply consisting of camouflage jackets and a range of black hats.
Controlling the territory of Washington Heights in Manhattan, the African-American gang isn’t explored at all in the 1979 classic, aside from a short shot of them at the start of the movie.
13. ‘The Jones Street Boys’
Locking horns with the aforementioned Saracens on their turf of Bensonhurst, The Jones Street Boys appear at the grand summit at the start of the movie.
Though they’re a big enough gang to be invited to the meeting, The Jones Street Boys don’t take themselves too seriously, as illustrated by their black and yellow striped jumpers, though they wouldn’t hesitate to cause trouble.
12. ‘The Satans Mothers’
Motorcycle gangs are a group of gangsters who appear throughout movie history, so it’s a little curious that it’s just The Satans Mothers who ride a motorcycle throughout the ultimate ‘gang’ movie, The Warriors.
A ruthless gang, with possibly the coolest crest of any of the groups in the film, The Satans Mothers are vast in numbers and violent in nature, using knives as their weapon of choice.
11. ‘The Electric Eliminators’
Staunch rivals of the Hi-hats, little is seen of The Electric Eliminators throughout the 1979 film, aside from in the opening sequence when we see them from behind, strutting towards the subway.
Controlling Soho with a violent, iron fist, The Electric Eliminators strike fear into the hearts of other gang members and are also hard to miss in neon yellow bomber jackets, sporting a loud crest on their backs.
10. ‘The Boppers’
Based in Harlem, the Boppers are smooth criminals with silken purple waistcoats over their black shirts and a colourful hat to finish the look. Preferring to apprehend their adversaries with sheer style and sweet-talking, The Boppers also have what it takes to control their territory of Harlem, proving to be more than just groovy-looking gang members.
9. ‘The Hi-Hats’
Distinct simply in their appearance, the Hi-Hats are a quiet bunch that dress like mimes with long-sleeve red t-shirts, black braces, top hats and painted white faces. Charming, yet deceivingly fierce, the group are very territorial and won’t let anyone step foot in Soho unless they are sporting their own colours.
Whilst they don’t play a massive part in the film, they help to make the city’s gangs appear that much more vibrant.
8. ‘The Punks’
The final of the main eight gangs that are given the most screen presence in the film, The Punks betray their very name with the attire they chose to wear, sporting denim overalls over striped rugby shirts. Controlling Bowery with The Lizzies, the teamwork of themselves and the all-gang group may make for the coolest collaboration in the whole film.
Quite how the gang thought roller skates were ‘punk’, we’ll never know.
7. ‘The Orphans’
A wild gang without much law and order, there is little sophistication to The Orphans who control the Tremont neighbourhood of the Bronx. Not even invited to the great meeting of all the gangs in New York, this tells you all you need to know about how The Orphans are appreciated in the city.
With this being said, they are also one of the nicest gangs we encounter in the film, letting The Warriors pass through their territory, even if they eventually become hostile when they are challenged as being “chicken” for not defending their space.
6. ‘Turnbull AC’s’
Seriously tough seasoned bruisers, the Turnbull AC’s aren’t to be taken lightly. These thuggish skinheads are chaotic denim-wearing punks who are on the front foot when it comes to taking down The Warriors. Riding around the city streets in a graffiti-emblazoned bus, the Turnbull AC’s are the first villains the titular group must come up against when they ram their vehicle in the direction of the gang.
In control of Pelham and Gun Hill Road of the Bronx, the Turnbull AC’s are one of the most feared gangs in the city.
5. ‘The Lizzies’
The all-girl gang control Union Square, and Bowery and use their femininity to lure the male gang members, before striking when they least expect it. Without a striking sense of visual identity, The Lizzies’ sport colourful tie-dye-esque tops below their jackets and shirts, though this doesn’t stop them from being one of the strongest gangs in all of fictional New York, coming the closest to apprehending The Warriors.
Choosing fists and knives over firearms, The Lizzies are traditional hoodlums.
4. ‘The Rogues’
As the film’s big baddies, The Rogues are certainly one of the least liked gangs throughout the movie, with their leader Luther being a strange egotistical villain at heart. Operating the area of Hell’s Kitchen, the gang play by their own rulebook, proven when they murder Cyrus during the meetup of all the gangs, before framing the death on The Warriors in a true act of cowardice.
They aren’t a particularly cool-looking bunch either, sporting sleeveless leather jackets and questionable headwear that made them look more like disgruntled cab drivers as opposed to a ruthless gang.
3. ‘The Baseball Furies’
The iconic sight of The Baseball Furies has become one of the film’s most striking sights, with the sporty-looking gang painting their faces in various bright colours, choosing the baseball bat as their weapon of choice. Rarely opening their mouths, the Furies are quite sinister in appearance, with their all-white baseball attire working in contrast with their violent ways.
Beloved for their impressive appearance, The Baseball Furies remain one of the most beloved gangs in all of The Warriors.
2. ‘The Gramercy Riffs’
No gang holds as much importance and stature in Hill’s fantastical version of New York City than The Gramercy Riffs, with much of the story revolving around their pursuit of Cyrus’ killers, particularly as he was their leader and figurehead. Taking control of Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, the Riffs are the biggest gang in the city and envision a world where the gangs held control over the area, instead of competing for it until the events of the film throw that notion into disarray.
Wearing either orange, blue, white, or black robes at the start of the film, this all changed after the death of Cyrus, with members donning black shirts and trousers instead.
1. ‘The Warriors’
Our heroes and the titular gang of the 1979 film, The Warriors are pursued throughout the film by various gangs after they’re framed for the murder of Cyrus, a beloved figure of unity for groups across the city. Donning brown leather gilets, embroidered on the back with their name and crest, a large winged skull, The Warriors control Coney Island, Brooklyn, with fair but harsh judgement.
Leading the group is Swan (Michael Beck), a good-looking jock with a powerful presence and natural-born leadership qualities.