Latinos LOVE the movie (and song!) La Bamba. La Bamba is a 1987 American film by Luis Valdez written about the life of Ritchie Valens, a Mexican-American entertainer and rock and roller whom at the peak of his career died in a plane crash. Lou Diamond Phillips plays the character of Valens and pulled it off quite well with his suave moves and exotic ethnic look. The film was a huge success grossing over $52 million dollars within a span of 12 weeks since its opening debut in the states. The song is catchy, the film is touching, and the acting is superb.