Directed by: Benson Lee
The dance film, Battle of the Year, is the story of an on-going international dance crew tournament that attracts all the best teams from around the world. However the Americans (where the dance style originated) haven't won in 15 years. Now an LA Hip Hop mogul Dante (Alonso) wants to put the country that started the sport back on top. To do this he enlists his down-on-his-luck friend, Blake (Holloway), to coach his team. Blake used to be a championship basketball coach, but when his wife and child were killed in a tragic car accident, he dropped out of sight and fell into a bottle. For his part, Dante wants to nopt only help out his old friend, but believes that the right coach can make any team champions, he hires Blake to assemble a Dream Team of all the best dancers across the country. At first this seems like an impossible task with only three months until Battle of the Year, but Blake determines that this is his last shot and pulls out every tactic he knows to get a dozen talented individuals to come together as a team if they're going to bring the Trophy back to America where it started.
In the real world, Battle of the Year (commonly referred to as BOTY) is an annual international b-boying series that grew out of a style of street dance that originated among African-American and Puerto Rican youths in New York City during the early 1970s. The competition itself began in 1990. It is a crew (as opposed to individual) competition with regional qualifying tournaments, also known as preliminaries, that are held worldwide culminating in the BOTY International, the world finals event which was held at the Volkswagenhalle in Braunschweig, Germany until 2009. Since 2010, the world finals take place in Montpellier, France. Battle of the Year is widely regarded as the premier b-boying tournament in the world. This film is largely based on a Planet B-Boy, a 2007 documentary film that focused on the 2005 Battle of the Year while also describing B-boy culture and history as a global phenomenon.
Unfortunately, the film is rather pedestrian and essentially cliché-ridden, turning it in to just another genre film about some event (skateboarding, rollerblading, a cappella singing, skiing, etc.) that is mostly about the thing they are doing, and has a plot loosely draped around the framework of the thing they are doing (which is always way more important and usually more interesting than the plot itself). Virtually all of the characters could have been replaced by someone else. There are a couple of minor celebrity names in the dance crew, most notably among them is Chris Brown, (who manages to get through the length of the film without slapping around a woman). If you want to watch a far more exciting version of this, check out pretty much any other dance film ever made, especially Step Up Revolution (especially the 3D version).
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.