Sol Yurick, the writer whose 1965 novel "The Warriors" was adapted into a film 14 years later—which then became one of the best adapted works ever in video gaming—died this weekend. He was 88.
Yurick's work itself was a loose adaptation of a story told 2,300 years before: Anabasis, which chronicles the journey of Greek mercenaries through hostile territory after the death of their leader. Yurick's book, and The Warriors both open with a grand council of street gangs, convened in the Bronx, and the murder of the leader who called for the gathering (Cyrus, a direct reference to the leader of the Greeks in Anabasis). But the stories then diverge significantly.
Walter Hill, the director of The Warriors, strove to give a comic-book depiction of the gang's flight from the Bronx back to their Coney Island turf. (Indeed, in Yurick's book, the gang's mascot, Junior, reads a comic book version of the story throughout the escape.) In the film, each faction was given a name and a costume theme invoking it, typified by the iconic "Baseball Furies" the protagonist Warriors fight in Riverside Park. After making their way through rival gangs' turf in Manhattan and then back to Coney Island, the Warriors defeat the gang responsible for Cyrus' death.
The Warriors became a cult hit, partly because its exaggerated portrayal of New York City's lawlessness fit with the image of violent crime and decay that blighted the city in the late 1970s. A staple of Saturday and Sunday afternoon movie programming on UHF stations, the film faded from popular memory until Rockstar resurrected it as a video game 26 years later.
The Warriors, released in 2005 for the Xbox and PS2, began with a three-minute recreation of the film's opening sequence (shown above). Set to the blood pumping guitar and synthesizer of Barry Vorzon's original soundtrack, it's one of the best openings a video game has ever had. Critics familiar with the film swooned, and The Warriors reviewed very well in a year full of big hits. Primarily a brawler, with some limited open-world features, the game also served as a canonical prologue to the all-gang meeting in the Bronx. It is playable only on the PlayStation 2 and original Xbox; a version for the PSP was released in 2007.
RIP Sol Yurick [Rockstar Games Twitter]