20 user 24 critic

Wild Style (1982)

Zoro, the city's hottest and most elusive graffiti writer. The actual story of the movie concerns the tension between Zoro's passion for his art and his personal life, particularly his ... See full summary »


Charlie Ahearn


Charlie Ahearn (original concept), Charlie Ahearn | 1 more credit »




Cast overview, first billed only:
'Lee' George Quinones ... Raymond 'Zoro'
Lady Pink Lady Pink ... Rose 'Lady Bug' (as Sandra 'Pink' Fabara)
Fab 5 Freddy ... 'Phade' (as Frederick Braithwaite)
Patti Astor Patti Astor ... Virginia
Andrew Witten Andrew Witten ... Z-Roc (as Zephyr)
Busy Bee Busy Bee ... Chief Rocker
Carlos Morales Carlos Morales ... Hector
Alfredo Valez Alfredo Valez ... Chico
Niva Kislac Niva Kislac ... Niva
Glenn O'Brien Glenn O'Brien ... Museum Curator
Johnny 'Crash' Matos Johnny 'Crash' Matos ... Union Crew
Daze Daze ... Union Crew (as Chris 'Daze' Ellis)
Fred 'Caz' Glover Fred 'Caz' Glover ... Union Crew
Edwin 'Obe' Ortez Edwin 'Obe' Ortez ... Union Crew
Lisa Lee Lisa Lee ... Fly Girl


Zoro, the city's hottest and most elusive graffiti writer. The actual story of the movie concerns the tension between Zoro's passion for his art and his personal life, particularly his strained relationship with fellow artist Rose. But this isn't why one watches Wild Style--this movie is *the* classic hip-hop flick, full of great subway shots, breakdancing, freestyle MCing and rare footage of one of the godfathers of hip-hop, Grandmaster Flash, pulling off an awesome scratch-mix set on a pair of ancient turntables. A must-see for anyone interested in hip-hop music and culture. Written by Leon

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


More vital than 100 flash dances! See more »


Drama | Music


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The stick-up guys were cast when Charlie Ahearn saw them hanging around the location. Ahearn offered them a prop gun but they insisted on using their real sawed-off shotgun. All of their lines were improvised. See more »


At 6:18 Hector tells Raymond 'Zoro' to take off his do-rag. Then Ray's hair pops back and forth between being flat from the do-rag to a picked out Afro during their conversation. See more »


'Phade': Scooby Doo!
See more »


Featured in Black in the 80s: Color in Film (2005) See more »


Gangbusters Scratch Mix
Composed by Fab 5 Freddy and Chris Stein
Performed by Grand Wizard Theodore and K.K. Rockwell
See more »

User Reviews

hip hop document
15 November 2009 | by willwallace-1See all my reviews

They call this the film that launched a thousand back spins. It was this premier hip hop feature film, along with the 1984 Arena documentary Beat This: A Hip-Hop History, that helped shape the global consciousness of the world conquering hip-hop eruption. The title refers to the elaborate and near illegibly creative style of graffiti pioneered by these artists and the film features many of the legends of the era; Grandmaster Flash, The Rock Steady Crew, The Cold Crush Brothers, Fab Five Freddy all performing in real life scenarios. It was fascinating then, as it is now, to see the original elements of hip hop culture. There's little emphasis on guns, bitches and bling but a hyper-verite representation of MC-ing (rap), B-Boy (break dancing) and bombing (graffiti) at its spiritual home – New York. At the time this footage – and it call it so due to the lack of substantial plot – was revolutionary, for the first time people outside of this small but exploding community saw what life was like in the home of hip-hop.

The plot centres around Raymond - Puerto Rican graffiti legend Lee Quinones. Admittedly, I hadn't heard of him, even with a fair background knowledge of the films topic (hence fancying blowing 50p on this in Save the Children) but he is one of the founding fathers of the art form even having piece in America's national galleries. Inner city hood by day – if not a very gawky looking one from a 21st century perspective – and mysterious graffiti hero, Zoro, by night. The film follows his life as he tries to get the girl and make some cash and manage to express himself through his spray can, whilst the scene he's a part of throws itself at the screen. The problem here as usual is that there is a loose plot woven around these real life events. The characters are designed to accurately portray their respective figures. This is in essence an exploitation film ... hmm... hip-hoploitation is the best I can do there. The plot is there purely to make a feature of the, soon to be highly lucrative, hip hop culture of the early 1980's.

The passion of the subculture is captured really well through the looking glass of a cheap debut feature. Ahearn, who wrote produced and directed the film evidently really believed in the power of the source. Another example of this is Tony Richardson's 1955 short Momma Don't Allow that captured a night in the lives of the burgeoning youth movement of northern England, pre rock n roll. It shows us everyone's fight for expression, to be the face everyone recognises, to be a hero for one day. In the gritty majesty of seeing your art, hastily sprayed on a train, in the night under fear of arrest, charge through the city on the highest platform for everyone to see and admire. In the real life performances of these early rap pioneers in murky red lit clubs storytelling and bragging in a new exciting form and having a blast – and the rapping does stand up much better than you'd expect even if it may wear thin after a while. Some of the performances really are brilliant and I'm always a sucker for break-dancing and graffiti murals unfolding before your eyes.

Certainly, to your modern hip-hop fan the film is laughable, it of course dated but to those willing to give it a bit more of a chance its a truly remarkable view. I certainly enjoyed it on some level due to the Warriors-esquire vibe going on but Quinones although certainly qualified to represent his generation does look pretty geeky for a supposed hip hop legend. The style was still emerging and dodgy seventies looks still plague elements of this film. Overall its a little short, it's a cheap ropey movie but it did its job and is rightfully a genre classic. Any film that can capture the spirit of a subculture as it arises deserves a place in history. It's not really expected to be a good story, a good film, its just a document - but as it happens it's alright. I enjoyed it, but, admittedly, it will be a while till I fancy watching it again.

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Release Date:

4 November 1983 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Wild Style See more »


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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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