Planet B-Boy (2007)
2008-03-26 22:19:32 ET

Full disclosure: This movie is about breakdancing (or b-boying). Itís made by and for those who breakdance. As Iím neither, Iím probably not qualified to review it. Either that, or Iím the only one who is. Whatever the case, here it goes.

After a quick review of the history of the dance (being one of the four pillars of hip hop, along with DJing, MCing, and graffiti) and the competition that sprang up around it, we have an overview of top b-boy crews from around the world. While many are shown in short clips, the movie focuses on five: Ichigeki (Japan), Phase-T (France), Knucklehead Zoo (USA), The Gamblerz and Last for One (South Korea). There are interviews with the members which occasionally deal with their lives and families, but mostly with the competition itself. The finals are in Germany, and take up the bulk of the film. These consist first of the choreographed sequences, in which the whole group does a performance full of synchronization, head-spinning, and, in one case, flinging a small child all around the stage. Then it comes down to the battle, which is sort of like a cross between a capoeira match and a game of HORSE.

As sports documentaries go, this one is fairly standard. It follows a few entrants up the ladder to the top, with the understanding that one of them will win. Thereís little in the way of personal drama to derail things. While there are some amusing culture shock moments (did that Korean guy really eat a bratwurst dipped in chocolate sauce?), most of it is very, very straightforward. I guess itís what I expected, but therein lies the problem. Couldnít they have shaken things up just a little?

On the other hand, since a documentary ostensibly informs us about goings-on in the real world, this aspect was more effective and interesting. I know sweet Fanny Adams about b-boying, and, while I still donít know much, I can at least say Iíve seen footage of it done competitively and have a better appreciation of what it is. Hey, that kind of thing takes talent, and I sure canít do it. Give respect where itís due.

Thereís a scene involving a dance-off between soldiers on opposite sides of the 38th Parallel. Itís probably staged, but I really want to believe that kind of thing goes on all the time.

Thereís also an element of horror, as you will see some of the worst teeth ever committed to celluloid. Iím not trying to say anything about standards of dental hygiene around the world, but it sure gave me the jibblies.

Anyway, in the end it breaks down to how willing you are to see crazy-go-nuts dancing for the better part of two hours. If youíre up for it, youíll probably find it entertaining but not spectacular. If youíre not, youíll want to pass this one by.

2008-03-27 15:40:31 ET

What's the name of the film?

2008-03-27 21:02:51 ET

D'oh! Knew I forgot something. It's "Planet B-Boy," and the appropriate addition has been made.

2008-03-28 10:20:02 ET

Thank you sir!

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