The Warriors(Paramount Home Entertainment, 10.4.2005)
The Warriors: Ultimate Director's Cut has got to be the most shameless tease of a special edition since George Lucas first decided to completely butcher the original Star Wars saga and incinerate the original. With this release, we get all the behind-the-scenes goodies that were so lacking in the bare bones release of The Warriors, as well as a spiffy new transfer and enhanced audio. As is the case with Lucas, Walter Hill claims that he always intended for his film look "like this."
What is "like this," you ask? Apparently, Hill wanted there to be comic book transitions between scenes, as well as an alternate opening -- originally to be narrated by Orson Welles (in his absence, Hill provides vocals) -- that explicitly refers to Greek mythology, as if we couldn't make this connection ourselves. Anyhow, we get a painfully cheesy opening that just doesn't seem to fit the aesthetic of the film. Additionally, the original (and quite excellent) opening sequence loses a lot of its appeal because, well, it's no longer the opening sequence.
In addition to the banal comic panel transitions, we also get these incredibly shoddy timetable cues (ie. "meanwhile," "sometime in the future," etc.). The originality and overall grittiness of the film is all but completely lost with these glossy, yet cheap looking add-ons. I'm sure Walter Hill sincerely thinks that this is how his film was always meant to be seen. However, it WASN'T seen that way. As a paying consumer (and rabid fan), I should have the opportunity (not just luxury) to watch both versions completely intact. The exclusion of the original 1979 cut is completely uncalled for and insulting to the film and its devotees. Sure, we can always hang on to our older (and still anamorphic) DVD, but the transfer here is substantially better and branching together the two versions would've been no hassle whatsoever.
Unlike the barebones release of The Warriors that came out some years ago, this release is also packed with four featurettes that add up to a one hour-long documentary on the inception, making-of, marketing, and butchering of this cult classic about a gang-occupied New York and the struggles of one gang in particular to survive the night, make it back to Coney Island, and ultimately reclaim their virtue, one block at a time. And of course, they kick a lot of butt and even manage to pick up a few broads on the way.
Also included are the film's original theatrical trailer and a quantity of nearly forced previews unlike anything I've ever encountered before. There are literally ten minutes of ads that you have to skip through manually each time you insert the disc. Honestly, can't they just put the previews on the main menu as an option?
In the end, it all comes down to how big a fan you actually are. Even if you consider yourself a moderate fan, I'd suggest renting the DVD, watching the extras (you only need to see them once), cringing at the crappy new footage, returning the DVD, and rewatching the original release. This DVD is simply an addition to the original -- the second disc in an informal 2-disc set -- not a replacement. If you don't already own any version (for shame!), I would still recommend going with the bare bones edition. Can I dig it? Hell no! -- Neil Karassik