The 1983 hip-hop film Wild Style has its 30th anniversary this year and Chicago-based Music Box Films is releasing a bad-ass double-disc DVD set to celebrate on October 1. (It’s also available on VOD.) It’s a remastered version of the seminal movie, and the DVD extras include live performances, interviews, and a detailed booklet.
Indeed, the film’s extras sound totally fantastic, don’t they? It’d be great to tell you whether they’re well-executed or not, but I didn’t get any of that in the press kit — it was basically a DVD-R with a picture that looks like someone dropped a full-frame image into a wide-screen window — so, let’s take a look at the movie itself, to see what it has to offer.
The acting’s pretty much terrible, right across the board. Granted, everyone involved in the film was essentially playing themselves. Lead actor Lee Quinones plays Zoro, the inimitable grafitti artist feted by New York’s art world, and Quinones himself actually transferred his work to canvas with a gallery show in Rome in 1979.
There’s also a plot that’s some sort of vague romance, tied together with trying to put together a mural for the big hip-hop show in the park that closes the film.
They’re standard tropes that go all the way back to MGM musicals of the ’30s and ’40s. Much like those films, the plot exists solely as a reason to string together a bunch of performances.
Think of Wild Style as a hip-hop The Girl Can’t Help It — the plot stinks and the acting’s mediocre, but you get to see performers in their element, at their peak, performing while the music’s vibrant and relevant.
It’s shot well, and the audio’s crisp and clean, so this is one of the few ways to view these performers without blown-out audio and VHS degradation. Seeing Grandmaster Flash work the wheels of steel up close and crisp is worth a look in and of itself.