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The Best '80s Movies About Life in the 'Hood 

Ranker Film
Updated October 8, 2019 301 votes 98 voters 9k views 13 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite gang films that were released in the 1980s

This list of the best ‘80s hood movies includes some influential films and at least one masterpiece. These 1980s hood films reflect the urban experience and each offers something unique, but they were all also overshadowed when the sub-genre exploded in the early 1990s. Still, several important hood movies were released in the '80s, depicting street life, drugs, gangs, music, violence, and a host of other topics.


No discussion of top ‘80s hood movies would be complete without Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. This 1989 hit influenced all subsequent hood movies, and it is even more relevant more than 25 years later. Another important ‘80s hood film is Stand and Deliver, starring Edward James Olmos as an inner-city teacher attempting to reach his students through calculus. While those '80s movies about the hood are serious dramas, this list of 1980s hood movies also includes Coming to America, the seminal comedy about an African prince looking for love in Queens, New York.
 

Here you’ll also find hip-hop-influenced films like Breakin’ and Krush Groove. So what are your favorite ‘80s hood movies? Help us rank this list however you want by voting up your favorites. Don’t forget to check out the list of the best ‘90s hood movies to see how the genre progressed, then check out our list of funny hood movies.

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1
Coming to America is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best '80s Movies About Life in the 'Hood
Eddie Murphy, Samuel L. Jackson, James Earl Jones

Released: 1988

Directed by: John Landis

Coming to America is a 1988 American comedy film directed by John Landis, and based on a story originally created by Eddie Murphy, who also starred in the lead role. The film also co-stars ...more

More Coming to America 

After A Contentious Six-Month Production, It's A Miracle 'Coming To America' Even Exists #32 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #6 of 726 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked

2
Lean on Me is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best '80s Movies About Life in the 'Hood
Morgan Freeman, Tony Todd, Regina Taylor

Released: 1989

Directed by: John G. Avildsen

Lean on Me is a 1989 dramatized biographical film written by Michael Schiffer, directed by John G. Avildsen and starring Morgan Freeman. Lean on Me is loosely based on the story of Joe Louis ...more

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#8 of 726 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #9 of 36 The Most Inspirational Black Movies #32 of 110 The Best Inspirational Movies

3
Bad Boys is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best '80s Movies About Life in the 'Hood
Sean Penn, Ally Sheedy, Clancy Brown

Released: 1983

Directed by: Rick Rosenthal

Bad Boys is a 1983 drama film written by Richard Di Lello and directed by Rick Rosenthal.

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#18 of 26 The Best Brat Pack Movies #31 of 314 The Greatest Teen Movies of the 1980s #22 of 136 The Best Prison Movies

4
Colors is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best '80s Movies About Life in the 'Hood
Sean Penn, Robert Duvall, Don Cheadle

Released: 1988

Directed by: Dennis Hopper

Colors is a 1988 American police procedural action film starring Sean Penn and Robert Duvall, and directed by Dennis Hopper. The film takes place in the gang ridden neighborhoods of South ...more

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#521 of 726 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #58 of 144 The Best Films Directed by Famous Actors #28 of 93 The Best Hood Movies

5
I'm Gonna Git You Sucka ... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best '80s Movies About Life in the 'Hood
Chris Rock, Jim Brown, Damon Wayans

Released: 1988

Directed by: Keenen Ivory Wayans

I'm Gonna Git You Sucka is a 1988 parody film of blaxploitation movies written, directed by, and starring Keenen Ivory Wayans. Featured in the film are several noteworthy African American actors ...more

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#462 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #121 of 726 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #391 of 1,208 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time

6
Do the Right Thing is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '80s Movies About Life in the 'Hood
Samuel L. Jackson, Martin Lawrence, Spike Lee

Released: 1989

Directed by: Spike Lee

Do the Right Thing is a 1989 American comedy-drama hood film produced, written, and directed by Spike Lee, who also played the part of Mookie in the film. Other members of the cast include Danny ...more

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#307 of 349 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #303 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Rankedlisted on Movies Set in Brooklyn

7
Boyz n the Hood is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '80s Movies About Life in the 'Hood
quimby added Ice Cube, Angela Bassett, Cuba Gooding Jr.

Released: 1991

Directed by: John Singleton

Boyz n the Hood is a 1991 American hood drama written and directed by John Singleton in his directorial debut, and starring Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Morris Chestnut, Laurence Fishburne, Nia ...more

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#1 of 726 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #166 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys #102 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

8
South Central is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best '80s Movies About Life in the 'Hood
quimby added Glenn Plummer, Carl Lumbly, Byron Minns

Released: 1992

Directed by: Stephen Milburn Anderson

South Central is a 1992 American crime drama film, written and directed by Stephen Milburn Anderson. This film is an adaptation of the 1987 novel Crips by Donald Bakeer, a former high school ...more

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#326 of 349 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #111 of 726 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #14 of 93 The Best Hood Movies

9
Stand and Deliver is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best '80s Movies About Life in the 'Hood
Andy Garcia, Edward James Olmos, Lou Diamond Phillips

Released: 1988

Directed by: Ramón Menéndez

Stand and Deliver is a 1988 American drama film based on the true story of high school math teacher Jaime Escalante. Edward James Olmos portrayed Escalante in the film and received a nomination ...more

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#29 of 55 The Best Movies Ever to Come Out in March #2 of 15 The Best Movies That Capture The Mexican-American Experience #198 of 298 The Best Teen Movies of All Time

10
Beat Street is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best '80s Movies About Life in the 'Hood
Rae Dawn Chong, Mary Alice, Kadeem Hardison

Released: 1984

Directed by: Stan Lathan

Beat Street is an American 1984 drama film featuring New York City hip hop culture of the early 1980s; breakdancing, DJing, and graffiti. It began with a script written by Steven Hager titled ...more
11
Breakin' is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best '80s Movies About Life in the 'Hood
Jean-Claude Van Damme, Ice-T, Christopher McDonald

Released: 1984

Directed by: Joel Silberg

Breakin', released as Breakdance: The Movie or Break Street '84 in some countries, is a 1984 breakdancing-themed film directed by Joel Silberg. The film setting was inspired by a 1983 German ...more

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#381 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #466 of 726 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #136 of 347 Movies with the Best Soundtracks

12
Krush Groove is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best '80s Movies About Life in the 'Hood
Chris Rock, LL Cool J, Bobby Brown

Released: 1985

Directed by: Michael Schultz

Krush Groove is a 1985 Warner Bros. film that was written by Ralph Farquhar and directed by Michael Schultz. This film is based on the early days of Def Jam Recordings and up-and-coming record ...more

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#434 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #234 of 347 Movies with the Best Soundtracks #92 of 98 The Best Dance Movies Ever Made

13
Babylon is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best '80s Movies About Life in the 'Hood
Mel Smith, Maggie Steed, Brian Bovell

Released: 1981

Directed by: Franco Rosso

Babylon is a 1980 British film co-written by Martin Stellman and Franco Rosso, who also directed it. Produced by Gavrik Losey and the National Film Finance Corporation, the film is regarded as a ...more