10 Coolest Movie Gangs

This week on the totalfilm.com DVD Club, we're watching The Wild Bunch.

No surprise, then, that we got to thinking about the best movie gangs ever to flick a switchblade.

Whether it's slick street types, rough riders or smooth criminals, we take a look at the best mobs out there...

The Gang: The Warriors

The Film: The Warriors (1979)

Led By: Cleon (Dorsey Wright), the founder, who sacrifices himself after a pow-wow between New York's crime teams goes badly wrong.

Enemies: The Rogues, the Baseball Furies, the Turnbull ACs, among several others.

Why Are They Cool? Even when they're stranded in enemy territory, with the cops hunting for them and rivals at their backs, this lot make it through with a combination of street smarts, brawling, and tactical use of a molotov cocktail.

And they do all that while pulling off a look that includes red-orange pleather vests boasting their logo on the back.

That takes real guts.

Next: The T-Birds


The Gang: The T-Birds

The Film: Grease (1978)

Led By:
Danny Zuko (John Travolta)

Enemies: The Scorpions.

Why Are They Cool? Okay, so their hair is a little oily, they're still in school and they have a disturbing penchant for breaking into song at every possible moment.

But they're swaggering, leather clad dudes who step up when called upon and know how to handle a street race or two.

And considering that they've got a chattering, cooing gang of women - The Pink Ladies - watching their every move, it's not hard to see why they enjoy life.

Such is the power of their appeal that Danny even manages to convince the school's new arrival, virginal, terrified Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) to become a jumpsuit-clad vixen.

Next: Ocean's Eleven


The Gang: The Ocean crew

The Film: Ocean's Eleven (2001)/Ocean's Twelve (2004)/Ocean's Thirteen (2007)

Led By: Danny Ocean (George Clooney)

Enemies: Loads.

Why Are They Cool? They're lead by George Clooney and Brad Pitt, for crying out loud! How are they not among the coolest gangs ever created?

This rag-tag assortment of specialist criminals is first forged into place by Ocean when he sets his sights on robbing three casinos at once, all under the nose of owner Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia).

Among them are the dumb-as-tyres Malloy brothers (Scott Caan and Casey Affleck) who are nevertheless ace wheelmen and fixers and the dodgy cock-er-nee accented Basher Tarr (Don Cheadle) who knows how to make things go boom with grace and power.

They're slick, they're funny, and they steal from bad guys. What's not to like?

Next: The Magnificent Seven


The Gang: The Magnificent Seven

The Film: The Magnificent Seven (1960)

Led By:
Chris Adams (Yul Brynner)

Enemies: Calvera (Eli Wallach) and his bandits.

Why Are They Cool?
This team of gun-wrangling hard-asses would be cool even if their number didn't include the likes of Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson, but with them, this is the best bunch of cowboy heroes around.

And yes, since it's a re-telling of Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, they owe the original a debt of gratitude.

But if you're after a long, healthy life, you might want to think twice before joining their noble cause - protecting a small Mexican village from raiders - as the survival rate is not that high.

Next: Wolverines


The Gang: Wolverines

The Film: Red Dawn (1984)

Led By: Jed Eckert (Patrick Swayze)

Enemies: Cuban and Soviet soldiers.

Why Are They Cool? Well, what would you do if swathes of Communist paratroopers descended on your small American town and started rounding up the locals? If you said "fight", welcome to the Wolverines.

Proof that not all high schoolers sing when they're challenged, the gang quickly forms and tries to fight the invading forces as a loose guerilla combat team.

While mullets and dodgy '80s fashions are the order of the day, they're still loyal, committed warriors - albeit vastly outnumbered by the organised military they face.

Wonder if you get extra credit at school for helping to hold off the Red Menace?

Next: Goonies


The Gang: The Goonies

The Film: The Goonies (1985)

Led By: Michael "Mikey" Walsh (Sean Astin)

Enemies : The Fratellis.

Why Are They Cool?
Who as a kid wouldn't have wanted to be part of a group of hilarious misfits?

They've got it all - chatterbox leaders (Astin and Corey Feldman), nerdy inventor (Jonathan Ke Quan), and lovable tubby type Chunk (Jeff Cohen), who provides most of the laughs and plenty of the heart.

With Goonies as a wish-fulfilment adventure lark, the boys might come up against a crime family, but at least you know everyone's getting out alive.

Which is more than you can say for most of the other gangs on the list...

Next: Reservoir Dogs


The Gang:

The Film: Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Led By: Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney)

The police, each other.

Why Are They Cool?
The Dogs - even though they don't have a formal "gang" name - are certainly a mixed bag for anyone looking to join.

On the upside, you've got those rambling, hip cafe conversations about what Like A Virgin means or whether you should tip a waitress.

And just look at the dress sense - utterly cool matching suits, sharp shades and a soundtrack to match.

It's just a shame that the loose association of crims assembled for a heist fails to gel when the going gets tough - and the tough get bloody.

Plus, with Mr Blonde (Michael Madsen) as a member, no one is exactly safe. "Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right..." Ouch.

Next: Dominic Toretto's crew


The Gang:
Dominic Toretto's crew

The Film:
The Fast And The Furious (2001)

Led By: Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel)

Enemies: Johnny Tran (Rick Yune), the LAPD.

Why Are They Cool? Looking for a hard-partying, pedal-to-the-metal road crew? Toretto's team are the ones for you.

They get to drive souped-up street cars in illegal races, skipping between adrenalin-fuelled death matches and hijacking trucks for cash and kicks.

Their one big fault? Letting snarky undercover police types get close enough to take them down - though Dom and some of the crew survived to go south for this year's follow-up, Fast And Furious.

Next: Natives


The Gang: The Natives

The Film: Gangs Of New York (2001)

Led By: William "Bill The Butcher" Cutting (Daniel Day Lewis).

Enemies: Dead Rabbits, Tammany Hall.

Why Are They Cool? Led by one of the more vicious types on our list, Daniel Day-Lewis' Bill The Butcher (and his amazing 'tache), the Natives fight to keep their territory in 19th century Noo Yoik from an influx of Irish Catholic immigrants.

It's Marty Scorsese's period take on gang violence, so everyone gets to dress in cool coats and suits and both Bill and Amsterdam (Leo DiCaprio), the son of his old enemy who ends up tangling with him, chuck knives around with skill and abandon.

It's a brutal existence, but if you're in good with Bill, you're set for life. However short...

Next: Dillinger's Gang


The Gang: Dillinger's Gang

The Film:
Public Enemies

Led By: John Dillinger (Johnny Depp)

Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) and the early days of the FBI.

Why Are They Cool?
Dillinger himself is iconically awesome - swaggering in to rob banks and appreciating the value of being seen as the Robin Hood of his time.

Plus, he's unflinchingly loyal to his men and makes sure they enjoy life between bank robberies.

Dillinger's mob would be the ideal gang to join - check out the roaring '20s fashions - if it weren't for the dogged law-keepers led by Melvin Purvis.

Damn Feds and their freshly-created Bureau...

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Freelance Journalist

James White is a freelance journalist who has been covering film and TV for over two decades. In that time, James has written for a wide variety of publications including Total Film and SFX. He has also worked for BAFTA and on ODEON's in-cinema magazine.