Battle of the Year FeaturedWritten by Jon Patch
Screen Gems, Contrafilm and Sony Pictures present a PG-13, 109 minute, music, dance, drama, directed by Benson Lee, written by Brin Hill and Chris Parker with a theater release date of September 20, 2013.
In the past fifteen years of international B-Boy dance competitions held in Montpellier, France the USA hasn’t come close to winning. Now Dante Graham (Laz Alonso) has enlisted an old friend, basketball coach known for the St. Marks championships many years ago, Jason Blake aka W.B. (Josh Holloway) back from a deep depression over the loss of his family to create a crew of B-Boys to hopefully take the title of first place for the USA. After meeting a young Jewish man, Franklyn (Josh Peck) Blake has two stipulations for Dante in order to take the job, hire Franklyn with a Y as his assistant coach and sign off on the sentence in the contract that he gets to do everything on his and only his terms. The deal is done and the search for a team which doesn’t include the letter I is on with only weeks before the competition.
Blake starts out with 22 members on his dream team but must eliminate 9 in order to end up with his final team of 13. For the next 9 weeks Blake with the assistance of Franklyn will terminate one member of the team each week eventually getting his final number. He trains them in an old juvenile detention facility making them exercise, as well as dance and when he hires Stacy (Caity Lotz) to join the team the guys must now learn choreography. Most of the guys get along but Rooster (Chris Brown) has issues with Do Knock (Jon ‘Do Knock’ Cruz) and Sniper (Sawandi Wilson) rebels against Lil Adonis (Richard Maguire) because he happens to be openly gay. As for the rest of the guys, Anis (Anis Cheurfa), Rebel (Jesse ‘Casper’ Brown), Kid (David Shreibman), Sight (Steve Terada), Mayhem (Joshua Lee Ayers), Bambino (Luis Rosado), Flipz (Ivan ‘Flipz’ Velez) and the rest of the guys they all seem to want the same thing to be on the team, be family and bring home the title. Although the dream does not happen for some of the members as several are cut from the team.
A true leader brings his team together and if they act like champions they’ll be champions whether win or lose. The competition with Russia did not go as planned so Blake and his team know they have no choice but to step it up proving to Dante that he made the right choices in hiring Blake to assemble his final 13. In the end the Americans prove that a country formulated with people from all walks of life are truly a family that can come together as one making it to the end with honor, dignity, skill and pride.
The film was definitely much better than expected. To quote my friend Tony I expected high on dance but low on acting but I must say this film was high on both as well as being nicely directed and written. It runs a bit long with a lot of product placement for MTV, Puma and Braun but these days you have to pay the bills somehow and commercials on the big screen won’t cut it but product placement will especially if done in a subtle manner. The only slight criticism on the film is the fact I wish the writers developed the dancer’s characters more since as a viewer it’s difficult to get invested in them personally when we don’t know much about them. That aside the mix of dialogue and dance worked well making this an impressive film especially targeted at the young demographic.
Holloway does an excellent job with this role as does Peck even with his very monotone demeanor. Alonso has a smaller role but wins the camera over when he’s on screen. Lotz is a nice addition to this male dominated film but overall it is the dancers that steal the show with moves that are off the charts. Surprisingly Brown although I felt he wasn’t as skilled a B-boy dancer as some of the others seems to pull his own weight as a dancer and does pretty well in the acting category at least enough to get by. Overall there’s a nice balance of music, dance, and story line that will leave you cheering for the underdogs who happen to be in this story the USA but not for long. One of my favorite quotes from this story, “change how you think, change your life”, something I hope to remember from this day forward. Written and enjoyed with two paws out of four by Jon Patch.
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