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"Wild Style"

Directed by Charlie Ahearn.
Written by Charlie Ahearn.
Release Year:  1982 
Review Date:  3/12/03


My friends Meg and Charles made the call on some old school action at the local retro theater near my apartment, so being that I like movies, I told them that I would “hang out.”  “Wild Style” is essentially your sloppy seconds choice when picking amongst old hip-hop/break dancing, for example, if your video store was out of “Breakin’”, “Beat Street”, or “Breakin’ 2:  Electric Boogaloo”, you would get “Wild Style” even though it is probably the best of these films.

I think it is sloppy seconds because most people that are hip-hop fans have never seen it; I don’t know if I have ever seen it on TV, and since I was only 7 when the film opened in 1982, I was way too young to know what was going on to have wanted to see it as a kid.  A sorta-documentary on rap’s early beginnings in New York City, the film combines turntables, graffiti and some of the worst “acting” in the history of film to give you a feel for the early 80s culture of hip-hop life.  Writer/director Charlie Ahearn was actually at our screening to tell us a little bit about the film (before saying “Now, while I’m here in CHICAGO...” and summarily getting hissed by the audience for forgetting which city he was in) and it must have been tough as a white guy to try and convince all of these popular rap figures in New York City--all of whom were black--to appear or help out with his film.  So, we get Fab Five Freddy, Grandmaster Flash, members of the Rock Steady break dance crew, Busy Bee, the Cold Crush Brothers and many others all hangin’ out, and at various points the action happening on screen is pretty interesting mostly because of the historical significance of it all.

Unfortunately (at least, unfortunate for me), I just thought that the fictional characters killed “Wild Style” because the actors were so bad and the filmmaking was flat-out atrocious.  This film does, however, feature one of the most famous rap samples of all time--the line known simply as

“Yo, shut the fuck up, chico-man!”

Our audience almost exploded with glee when the two characters involved in this conversation used the line, because all of us knew the line but couldn’t believe it was in THIS movie.  But, save for this special moment, most of the laughter and audience participation was directed at some of the bad situations taking place on the big screen; man, where did Ahearn find these kids?  I thought the acting in “Breakin’ 2” was bad...

As a hip-hop fan, you simply must see this film.  But, for everybody else, you are better off without this one.

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09