Planet B-Boy

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Posted March 20, 2008 in Film

After an unneeded skim across break-dancing history from the highs (Ken Swift spinning in Flashdance!) to the lows (President Reagan nodding approvingly at a stage of tamed B-Boys), Benson Lee’s energetic documentary settles into a familiar structure. It’s the 2005 “Battle of the Year” and 19 teams from 18 countries have mobbed Germany to drop some science. In the first half, we identify our five teams: the lithe, musical French; the battling Americans; the innovative Japanese; and two raucously athletic South Korean competitors, underdogs Last For One and last year’s grand champions Gamblerz. (Cheeseball names are de rigueur.) Each has a need to win, but the South Koreans’ is most compelling—once they’re drafted into the anti-dancing Army, they’ll never dominate the floor again. Lee does a decent job making us care for the squads, or at least a key member or two of each. But he does his film a better service just by pointing his camera at the breath-taking contortions of the human body. A head-spinner who twists his body like a flame is topped by a dancer who stands steady as his buddy balances whirling on his head like a pinwheel beanie. Too often, Lee interrupts their feats for some extra emotional padding; the climactic duel is paused twice as hip hoppers ruminate about their daddy issues. Yet just as the last three decades have proven, break dancing can be suppressed, but will never stop wowing a crowd.


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