Somewhere underneath the never-ending music and dance numbers is a story about keeping Shabba-Doo’s community center for inner city youth (named “Miracles”) from falling into the hands of a slimy developer who wants to bulldoze it to erect a shopping center in the middle of the community. This would leave the kids nowhere else to go, so obviously they choose to fight the city council’s decision to shut it down, but a window of opportunity exists, which calls for $200,000 in necessary repairs.
Former “Solid Gold” dancer Lucinda Dickey stars as Kelly, a waitress by day, aspiring jazz dancer in her spare time. She has the looks and talent to go far, at least according to her dance instructor, but this move seems to come at a price, as he wants a little action on the side to help her career. She makes friends with a couple of local street dancers, aka break-dancers, Ozone and Turbo, and she becomes enamored of the mannerisms and moves of the street dancers. They agree to teach her some steps in order to gain street rep, while she has a crazy idea to make break-dancing more mainstream in the form of a staged musical about it. Alas, the conservative art crowd scoffs at the idea, as do the rival street-dancing crews who want to be prove they are the best of the bunch.
Style Wars is a documentary look at the street art among the youth of New York in the early 1980s, especially in the South Bronx, particularly in graffiti art and break-dancing. The film takes a balanced look at the youth culture, showing the artistry and thought involved in young people trying to make a name and impact by creating art for people all over the city to see on the side (or the interior) of a subway train, but also shows the frustration on the part of then-mayor Ed Koch, as well as law enforcement, in trying to keep the city from the blight of illegal art that often looks like gibberish to most people.
Producer and activist Harry Belafonte’s commercialized slice-of-life drama stars Guy Davis as Kenny ‘Double K’ Kirkland, a South Bronx hip-hop DJ with big dreams, and Jon Chardiet as Ramon, a Puerto Rican graffiti artist who would rather tag trains than get a real job. Rae Dawn Chong is Tracy, an upper-class music student from a college in Manhattan who sees something in Kenny’s proficiency with turntablism to want him to assist with her presentation on break-dancing.
The loose story of how Def Jam came to be, featuring the hottest hip-hop artists of the mid-1980s, Run-DMC, Kurtis Blow, The Fat Boys, LL Cool J, The Beastie Boys, and many more. Blair Underwood plays Russell, whose management company is coming up with some hot musical acts, including Run-DMC, featuring his brother Joe, who he ends up losing to some rivals offering more money. He gets into a financial pickle, while also romancing a hot funk-pop talent named Sheila, whom Joe also has a thing for. Michael Schultz directs this fan-favorite kitsch on hip-hop’s early days.
Taimak stars as a young African-American Harlemite who is a devout student of martial arts. He lives kung fu, breathes kung fu and is so entrenched in the ways of the kung fu warrior, he stands out in his predominantly Black community for his lack of hipness and Asian-tinged wardrobe (he even eats his movie popcorn with chopsticks). He is sent out into the world from his master teacher to reach the final level of his training to become a true kung fu master, involving a golden amulet and a master named Som Dom Goy. Meanwhile, his quest is detoured by constant disruptions by a neighborhood bully, Sho’Nuff. who, along with his gang of thugs, are terrorizing the neighborhood. Leroy also gets embroiled with an even bigger bad guy, amoral record producer Eddie Arkadian, whose quest to get his girlfriend’s video played on the hottest music show on TV hosted by singer/VJ Laura Charles causes them to get physical. Leroy becomes Laura’s reluctant bodyguards, and the sparks between them suggest that they might have something more going on.