When director Tony Silver and co-producer Henry Chalfant delivered the broadcast version of their prize-winning film to PBS in 1983, the world received its first full immersion in the phenomenon that had taken over New York City. The urban landscape was physically transformed by graffiti artists who invented a new visual language to express both their individuality, and the voice of their community. In STYLE WARS, New York’s ramshackle subway system is their public playground, battleground, and spectacular artistic canvas. As MC’s, DJ’s and B-boys rock the city with new sounds and new moves, we see street corner breakdance battles turn into performance art.
Style Wars shows both the young artists struggling to express themselves through their art, and their points of view on the subject of graffiti, as well as the views of then New York City Mayor Ed Koch, one-armed graffiti writer Case/[[Kase 2]], graffiti writer Skeme and his mother, graffiti "villain" Cap, now deceased graffiti writer Dondi, Seen and Shy 147, graffiti documentarian (and co-producer of the film) Henry Chalfant, breakdancer Crazy Legs of Rock Steady Crew, police officers, art critics, subway maintenance workers, as well as several "people on the street". A good overview of the movie directed by the late Tony Silver was made by A.O. Scott of the New York Times.