A fictional remake of director Benson Lee’s documentary Planet B-Boy, Battle of the Year begins as breakdancer-turned-hip-hop mogul Dante (Laz Alonso) tells his staff that it’s time Americans won supremacy in breakdancing, which has grown in popularity throughout the world while declining in its homeland.
Also, a championship will help him sell more products. He hires a cliché for the job, by which I mean a washed-up basketball coach-turned-alcoholic Jason Blake (Josh Holloway, a.k.a. Sawyer on TV’s Lost). Blake, assisted by his fan-boy assistant, Franklyn (Josh Peck), selects a national team of stars, boards them in a former juvenile detention centre and subjects them to boot camp-style training.
After some tiresome interpersonal squabbles, inspirational speeches (apparently, there’s no “I” in the word “team”), the boys fly to France where, voila, the dancing begins.
The 3-D is a pain, and the excitable editing, slo-mo and speeded-up action frustrate attempts to watch the athleticism on display, but the last half-hour takes it up a notch: The world champion South Korean crew, for example, dives and leaps like a bucket of Super Balls in a space capsule. And the U.S. team snaps between meticulous synchronized movements and explosive combinations of individual contortions.
Even if you’ve never harboured any b-ambitions, you may find your head spinning.