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Battle Of The Year: Dream Team 3D
DIRECTOR: Benson Lee
CAST: Josh Holloway, Laz Alonso, Chris Brown and Josh Peck
RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes
For those who worship b-boying, the international Battle Of The Year held in France, is a world cup, the biggest competition in breakdancing. A documentary called Planet B-Boy was released to critical acclaim in 2007 and it put the spotlight on a danceform that is considered one of the elements of hip hop.
That documentary was the brainchild of Benson Lee.
When word came that Lee would be directing a feature-length film that would use Planet B-Boy as a reference, hip hop lovers were all ears. Then R&B singer Chris Brown was announced as one of the stars of the film and there were side-eyes everywhere.
What Lee has achieved here is to show a bit of b-boy skill, showcased beside a storyline that has been done to death.
You know the one. There is a down-and-out coach who has his own demons (alcoholism, trauma, you name it) and a bunch of rough-around-the-edges kids who are good at a sport but lack discipline.
The first half of these movies is spent exploring the conflict between the coach and the kids, or external factors. The last half is spent on the team miraculously coming together and winning whatever tournament or big event is revered in that sport.
In this film, former b-boy-turned-mogul Dante (Laz Alonso) discovers that no American team has done well at Battle of the Year in more than a decade.
He decides that his company will sponsor a team to compete in France – because America is the home of hip hop anyway, he reasons.
He hires his old b-boy friend and basketball coach, Blake (Josh Holloway), to put together a dream team (yes, like the US basketball Dream Team) to represent America.
Blake, who has lost his wife and child in a car crash, fights his depression with a whisky bottle, but he has young men to turn from b-boys into men – to borrow Emile YX’s b-boy documentary title.
I won’t spoil the ending but it’s safe to say Lee follows the formula almost to the T. It would be boring yet watchable if the script wasn’t so lame. Never mind the product placement everywhere, never mind that we’re meant to believe Dante – a cross between Nelly and R Kelly with a Louis Vuitton tie – and Blake ever danced together or were ever friends. Forget TV personalities like Sway and Terrence J constantly showing up as bad cut-outs to comment on the competition.
And, please believe me, you will mind how many times the word “a******” is used, like the cast just discovered it. You’ll mind Blake’s permanently pained face and pace of speech like he is struggling with the words. You’ll roll your eyes when Josh Peck’s character, Franklyn – “With a Y” (as he always remarks) – says Jewish people are “stripped of our swag at circumcision” and that’s why he can’t dance.
You will most definitely be surprised at the lack of real b-boys and the limited time that dancing is given in this film. And you’ll probably mind that Blake’s lips are chapped throughout the movie.
Battle of the Year: Dream Team is meant to shed light on the b-boy culture with a cool story, but there are other dance films that have included elements of b-boy that are worth the price of a movie ticket.
If you liked Stomp the Yard and Planet B-Boy you might not think much of this film.