March 26, 1979 12:00 PM

Don’t let the lurid advertising campaign fool you. The first five minutes of this movie are as stylishly choreographed and visually arresting as anything this year. A subsequent letdown is only natural. Director Walter Hill clearly likes his scripts lean, a predilection that served him well in Hard Times, failed miserably in The Driver and falls somewhere in between here. The Warriors are a gang of Coney Island toughs who make the long subway trip to the Bronx for a meeting of the city’s gangs, only to be wrongly accused of assassinating a would-be messiah. The chase is on as the Warriors try to outwit and outhit cops and rival gangs. Michael Beck and David Patrick Kelly (as the real assassin) stand out in a cast of unknowns, but the real star is nighttime New York—dark, menacing and slightly surreal. Although it’s harnessed haphazardly, this film throbs with raw energy. (R)

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