Battle Of The Year (2013)

Info SidebarI can certainly admire the skill that goes in to breakdancing. The boys and girls who treat it as their livelihood are so agile, so strong, and so quick on their hands and feet that if a missile were headed their way they’d be able to spin it around and return it to its launchpad. You know how you sometimes watch a couple perform the Tango or the Waltz and you think to yourself, “That doesn’t look very hard. I could do that”? Well, breakdancing is something that’s both harder to do than it looks, and looks harder to do than it is.

That said, I don’t consider it a dance. Nor do I, in contrary to the beliefs of some of Battle Of The Year’s characters, think it’s an art form. I’d have to agree with Coach Blake — it’s a sport. Yes, it’s incredibly difficult, and it requires years of practice and training to master. But so does the Tango or the Waltz, and observe how much more elegant and graceful they are as compared to breakdancing. Yes, I’m also aware that they are three separate genres of music, but is hip hop not meant to be elegant as well, in its own unique way?

I’m not here to criticise breakdancing. I understand that there’s a niche audience for it, and this same audience will find this movie to be thoroughly satisfying. It is what it is: A movie about a bunch of guys dancing. Do we care why they’re dancing? Not really. No one seems to care in these sorts of movies. Just like no one cares why teenagers get killed in slasher pictures. They just do. Here, breakdancing is meant to be these guys’ bread and butter. I find that a little sad, if I may be so bold.

I’m not going to bother listing each member of the dance crew. There’re too many. And most of them don’t have speaking parts; they’re just there to shake their booties. The movie opens with USA losing the Battle of the Year, a prestigious annual breakdancing competition. The crew’s owner, Dante (Laz Alonso), is tired of losing and wants to bring the honour of the “art form” back to its home ground. He hires Blake (Josh Holloway) to coach a new team. Blake accepts — of course he does — and, together with a rather pointless sidekick Franklyn (Josh Peck), proceeds to knock the ragtag bunch of dancers into shape.

You’ve seen this movie before. We all have. Remember Coach Carter? Here he is again. In fact, you don’t even need to remember Coach Carter; just think of Dangerous Minds and you’ll get an accurate account of this movie. The dialogue is poor. The plot is thin and lacks focus. The characters are not characters; they are mannequins designed to dance, do push ups, run, and occasionally bare an ab or two. Even their dancing doesn’t appeal to me. And the editing by Peter S. Elliot is so disjointed and haphazard that it makes the climactic competition appear to unfold in fragments. We never get to see a whole dance routine from a solid point of view, which is immensely disappointing.

But can I be immensely disappointed? What was I expecting from a movie like this? Maybe a dance coach to do a little dancing to pump up his students (Holloway is clearly not a dancer, so why frame him as one?). Maybe I was expecting a more solid storyline that doesn’t act as a clothesline for breakdancing interludes. Maybe I was expecting to care for characters without having them throw the “I’ve got a baby” card in my face. Or maybe I was just expecting to sit down, watch this movie, and let my mind go blank. You know what? It has. And I think my eyes are gone too.

Best Moment | I’m struggling to think of one. I mean, some of the dance sequences are alright. But are they good enough? I’m not so sure.

Worst Moment | Chris Brown and that capped dude patching up bitter rivalries over a practice session in the dark. How romantic. And also, Josh Peck has proven to me that he is a horrible actor. What happened to the chubby, loveable kid from Drake & Josh?

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