This is what happened to the class of Malibu High once they graduated, one of whom picked up his diploma at the ceremony on his motorbike with a bikini-clad young woman straddled behind him. Kevin Carrigan (James Van Patten) goes to a Californian college with his friends, and while some live in the dorms, getting up to various hijinks, he still lives with his parents, police detective dad Bob (Ernest Borgnine), mother Beverly (Linda Day George) and younger sister Tiffany (April Dawn). One night he is at a party and his sister is out on a date, all good fun until somebody loses a life...
For the first fifteen minutes or so, Young Warriors appeared to be paying tribute to, or rather joining in with, any number of eighties crass teen comedies as the setpieces include a nerd forced to have his arse shaved then pick up an olive with it and drop it in a Martini, then drink the beverage (an incredibly overinvolved example of bullying), and someone letting a bunch of pigs into the frat house, a few of which are ridden, rodeo style. All very bemusing, but par for the course for the contemporaries of Porky's and Screwballs, yet it doesn't continue in that vein, nope, it's all change once Tiffany meets her maker.
Now, there's a curious dedication to King Vidor at the beginning of the credits, in a without whom none of this would be possible manner, but the connections between his far classier cinema and this, which would be straight ahead trash if it didn't labour under so many pretensions, are hard to define. The names which pop up right after tell you far more: Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, our old friends from Cannon produced this, and it was far more in keeping with their output with its vigilante obsessions and regular stops for violence and nudity, at the same time if need be. Kevin is none too pleased when his sister is raped and murdered, which is perfectly understandable.
But what's not so understandable is how he deals with it, which is meant to be a harrowing examination of grief and the lust for revenge, but instead made such bizarre choices that it simply became ridiculous. Kevin, who has a course in animation to channel his frustrations which looks more like loading screens for vintage computer games, ropes his pals into turning into a gang dedicated to hunting down the other gang, the one in the black van who killed his sibling and her date. They do this by apparently taking their cue from countless episodes of seventies Hanna Barbera adventure series: they even have a pet dog they dress up appropriately to accompany their excursions.
Yet imagine what Scooby Doo, Where Are You? would have been like if Scoob had been gunned down mid-sleuthing and you had an idea of the, shall we say, uncertain tone you had to contend with in Young Warriors (even the title is sarcastic). The older generation represented by blustering Borgnine and his cop partner Richard Roundtree are useless in the face of the crime wave, which leaves the increasingly unstable Kevin to take the reins, in his own mind anyway, because a running theme here was how useless he was himself, getting his friends needlessly injured and even killed as their private investigations go haywire. If this was supposed to illustrate how taking vengeance and doling out illegal justice off your own back was a bad thing, it was somewhat scuppered by adhering to so many conventions of the decade's action cinema, therefore of course there was a car chase, a shootout and even an exploding helicopter. If you had learned anything useful by the end of this, that would be the biggest twist of the movie. Music by Robert J. Walsh.