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‘Battle of the Year’ a D-list movie about B-boy dancers


Blake Josh Holloway

Rooster Chris Brown

Dante Laz Alonso

Franklyn Josh Peck

Stacy Caity Lotz

Screen Gems presents a film directed by Benson Lee and written by Brin Hill and Chris Parker. Running time: 109 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for language and some rude behavior). Opens Friday at local theaters.

Updated: October 21, 2013 6:13AM

If you can get past the mountain of cliches and poor acting and hackneyed story lines and the fact that someone let Chris Brown be in a movie again, “Battle of the Year” is actually still pretty awful.

Director Benson Lee’s film is based on his well-received 2008 documentary “Planet B-Boy,” which chronicled the comeback, of sorts, of breakdancing.

He should have quit while he was ahead.

Screenwriters Brin Hill and Chris Parker have come up with an absurd story that revolves around an international B-boying competition that, in the movie at least, the U.S. hasn’t won in 15 years. Since breakdancing was invented in the United States, this is considered an outrage by Dante Graham (Laz Alonso), former B-boy turned rich mogul.

So Dante turns to his old pal Jason Blake (Josh Holloway), a sort of hillbilly B-boy back in the day who became a successful basketball coach, but a tragedy has left him a miserable drunk. Dante remembers the old Blake, however; he sees the man beneath the booze and hires him to get the U.S. team back on track.

Blake’s idea is to dump the current crew and cherry-pick a kind of all-star B-boy team — a dream team, if you will. It’s a good idea in theory, but in actual practice it’s tricky, because of all the egos involved.

Chief among the egos is Rooster (Brown), who must put his individual goals aside for the betterment of blah, blah, blah. If, on the off chance you don’t know where this is leading, Blake is always there with a groan-worthy bromide to remind you.

The Battle of the Year takes place in France, with 20 teams competing. The Korean team is the defending champion, and considered miles above the rest of the competition. But first the American Dream Team must make it to the final four. Someone notes somewhere along the line that everyone hates Americans (who knew?) and an incident the night before the competition ensures this.

Can this rag-tag bunch stand against the best in the world? Can they bond as a team, sacrificing the good of the one for the good of the whole?

Dude, if you even need to think about this, you’re putting way more effort into it than the filmmakers did.

On the plus side, Brown really is a good dancer, as is the rest of the cast. There are some stunning moves, lovingly filmed. Other than that, well ... Holloway suffers the most, as he is given the burden of delivering line after terrible line with a straight face as he whips his team into shape, rah-rah. Everyone one loved him in “Lost,” but here he comes off like a poor man’s Matthew McConaughey.

Dirt poor.

Look, who are we kidding? This is a bad idea turned into a bad movie, and no one involved seems particularly interested in changing that. The dancing may be worth of a dream team, but the script is more of a nightmare.

Gannett News Service

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