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Wild Thing (1987)

PG-13 | | Action, Drama, Thriller | 17 April 1987 (USA)
A child witnesses drug dealers murder his parents. He escapes and grows up wild in the city's slums. Years later he emerges to help the residents of the area who are being terrorized by street gangs and drug dealers.


Max Reid


Larry Stamper (story), John Sayles (story) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Knepper ... Wild Thing / de: Asphalt Kid (as Rob Knepper)
Kathleen Quinlan ... Jane
Robert Davi ... Chopper
Maury Chaykin ... Jonathan Trask
Betty Buckley ... Leah
Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge ... Wild Thing (10 years)
Robert Bednarski Robert Bednarski ... Wild Thing (3 Years)
Clark Johnson ... Winston
Sean Hewitt ... Father Quinn
Theo Caesar ... Rasheed (as Teddy Abner)
Cree Summer ... Lisa (as Cree Summer Francks)
Shawn Levy ... Paul
Ron Torchia Ron Torchia ... Hud
Christine Jones Christine Jones ... Laurie
Robert Austern Robert Austern ... Wiz


A child witnesses drug dealers murder his parents. He escapes and grows up wild in the city's slums. Years later he emerges to help the residents of the area who are being terrorized by street gangs and drug dealers.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A loner. A legend. A hero.


Action | Drama | Thriller


PG-13 | See all certifications »



Canada | USA



Release Date:

17 April 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Asphalt Kid See more »

Filming Locations:

Montréal, Québec, Canada

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Featured in At the Movies: They'll Do it Every Time: Part One (1989) See more »


Wild Thing
Written by Chip Taylor
Performed by The Troggs
See more »

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User Reviews

Forgotten treasure of a film
27 October 2019 | by mikemdpSee all my reviews

It may be difficult for the young generation to imagine in the gentrified, Disneyfied 21st century, but New York City in the early 1980s was a desperate and awful place.

Times Square had been surrendered to the sex trade, the subways to street gangs, and the urban neighborhoods to hopeless, crumbling decay, as the rich majority and federal government made a conscious, overtly racist decision and effort to invest instead in the suburbs.

This awful situation gave rise to a curious genre of film set in a nightmarish contemporary Manhattan, populated by mulleted toughs harassing good citizens and engaging in choreographed knife fights in front of concrete walls sprayed with graffiti indistinct enough so as not to prevent a future network TV broadcast.

"The Warriors" may be the best known film in this category, but I argue "Wild Thing," though more obscure, is a gem that actually holds up better with time.

That's because it draws its conceit not just from its urban nightmare setting, but from Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic, "Tarzan."

After a young hippie couple is gunned down on a New York City side street, their infant child is taken in by a kindly homeless lady (Broadway veteran Betty Buckley).

The boy grows up wild in the Manhattan jungle just as Tarzan did in Africa, and becomes a legendary hero defending the innocent with his makeshift tools, like a bow-and-arrow and grappling hook.

The script by indie legend John Sayles is pure comic book pulp, with just enough social commentary to make you think.

The film is dark and dingy, but so was New York City then. So it works.

In fact, just about everything works in this forgotten treasure of a film.

When Wild Thing saves the day at the end (no spoiler there), and the kids on the street start chanting the Troggs' classic song, you'll be singing along, too. Trust me.

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