The new film “Battle of the Year” tells the story of an American breakdancing crew as they train for the biggest breakdance competition in the world.
Josh Holloway, best known as Sawyer on “Lost,” plays Jason Blake, a down on his luck former basketball coach who is picked by hip-hop mogul Dante (Laz Alonso) to train a group of breakers.
Dante, a former breaker himself, wants the crew to win the Battle of the Year, the premier breakdancing competition in the world, which an American group has not won in 15 years.
The crew, however, doesn’t get along and struggles to form a cohesive unit in time for the competition.
This is the equation with which they made “Battle of the Year”: take every sports movie cliche imaginable, subtract any heart or character development and add badly filmed dance scenes.
It’s actually impressive how many sports movie tropes they manage to cram in the 109 minute running time. There are shallow rivalries, even more shallow reconciliations and what may just be the worst, most saccharine locker room speech ever filmed.
But despite all that, the absolute worst part of the film is actually what should be the most exciting — the dance scenes. It’s not because the dancing isn’t good, but because it’s so poorly filmed.
Director Benson Lee previously helmed the documentary “Planet B-Boy,” which follows breakdancing crews as they prepare and compete in the 2005 Battle of the Year and formed the basis for this movie.
“Planet B-Boy” was well shot, with a heavy focus on the breakers themselves and their intense passion for the sport, while also giving much screen time to the actual dancing.
“Battle of the Year” does none of that.
The editing of the dance scenes is too frantic — the average shot can’t be much over a full second and there are way too many camera angles. The audience doesn’t get a chance to actually watch the breakdancing because the camera is moving so much.
Even this could be overlooked if the script was better.
In terms of the dialogue, all of the typical emotional exchanges are unintentionally funny.
The characters are more trope stand-ins than developed people, and several characters simply disappear without a trace at points in the film.
Ill-conceived jokes on ethnicity and sexuality are the icing on this mess of a cake.
Indeed, the only good part of “Battle of the Year” is getting to see Chris Brown get punched in the face.
But even that, while truly satisfying, isn’t worth the price of admission.
If you want to watch some legitimate breakdancing, with much more interesting characters and a lot more heart, watch “Planet B-Boy.”
Unless you have a very high tolerance for screenwriting ineptitude and messy dance scenes, don’t bother with “Battle of the Year.”