13 user 26 critic

Style Wars (1983)

Not Rated | | Documentary , Music | TV Movie 1983
A documentary that exposes the rich growing subculture of hip-hop that was developing in New York City in the late '70s and early '80s, specifically focusing on graffiti art and breakdancing.


Tony Silver

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Demon Demon ... Himself
Kase 2 Kase 2 ... Himself (as Kase)
Eric Haze Eric Haze ... Himself (as SE 3)
Spank Spank ... Himself
Trap Trap ... Himself
Kay Slay Kay Slay ... Himself (as Dez)
Butch Butch
Skeme Skeme ... Himself
Zone Zone ... Himself
Min One Min One ... Himself (as Min)
Cap Cap ... Himself
Michael Martin Michael Martin ... Himself (as Iz the Wiz)
Quik Quik ... Himself
Mare Mare ... Himself
Li'l Seen Li'l Seen ... Himself


A documentary that exposes the rich growing subculture of hip-hop that was developing in New York City in the late '70s and early '80s, specifically focusing on graffiti art and breakdancing.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Documentary | Music


Not Rated | See all certifications »


Official Sites:

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Release Date:

1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Graffiti-háború See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Public Art Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


According to Seen, Henry Chalfant originally intended to make a documentary about breakdancing but felt that he did not have enough interesting footage. So he instead focused on graffiti art and combined the footage which led to graffiti art becoming associated with hip-hop culture. See more »


Seen: [spraying with Rustoleum] Rustoleum, Krylon, Wet-Look, Epoxy, Red Devil... When you got a can of Rustoleum in your hand, it's like holding three other shit brands in your hand.
See more »


Referenced in Just to Get a Rep (2004) See more »


Rockin' It
Performed by The Fearless Four
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User Reviews

Interesting and cool documentary on New York subway graffiti
10 September 2007 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

I was curious to see how this film played for me because to some degree I am target audience while also not being target audience. I love hip hop (and no, 50 Cent does not fit that category for me so much as Black Star, for example, would) and I like the culture around it of break-dancing and graffiti writing. However on the flip side I do see graffiti on public property (or others' property) as being a nuisance and part of dragging areas down by giving the impression of lawlessness and a lack of safety. Whether it is true that it does encourage crime, it is of little doubt that the clean and well-lit subway stations of modern New York feel a lot less threatening than the ones that you see in this film.

The film does a good job of showing both sides of argument and, although the focus is the cultural side, it doesn't play down the fact that the graffiti is both creative and a nuisance and that it is possible to see it both ways at the same time. Here we see some great pieces on trains and walls but we also see idiots like Cap who literally spray their names on top of other peoples' work, the former producing some imaginative work that does make the "art" claim fly, the latter very much demonstrating the criminal damage side of it. The contributions from the bombers or taggers are mostly good, with plenty of typically Noo Yark characters of all ages and races talking with an energy and passion on the subject as it was happening.

The link to break-dancing and hip hop is not as strongly made as I would have liked and it doesn't manage to explore the birth of this street culture as well as I would have hoped. That said though it is still interesting to see a documentary about the graffiti trend and have captured it as it was in its heyday before it was stamped out. The film doesn't pander to either side but clearly sides with those being creative and allows the quality of the work to shine through, mostly ignoring those who would just seek to quickly spray their names on a train with nothing else to offer.

Not as culturally important as I would have liked it to have been but nonetheless interesting and cool at the same time and well worth seeing for the real heads.

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