Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Dir: Joel Silberg
Anyone that tells you that 1984's Cannon classic Breakin' is a terrible film is wrong. It is worse than terrible, however, it is so wonderfully, beautifully and heartwarmingly terrible that I can't help but adore it, and I know I'm not alone. Cannon film's were notoriously bad but they all had something uniquely wonderful about them at the same time. It is absolutely the work of nostalgia, seeing the VHS tapes with amazing cover art looking down at you from the shelf of the Video store and hearing them call you over, to grab them and take them home (for an extravagant fee) is a feeling I'll never forget. Unforgettable is also the feeling when, after what could be months of anticipation, you would finally watch the film to find that it looks and sounds like it was made by children with a budget of around six dollars. Sometimes it just didn't matter, because most of the time you knew it was never going to live up to its name, synopsis or cover art. Cannon were charmingly cunning in that they'd rip of other, better films very quickly and sometimes they would somehow beat the film they were ripping off to a release date. Breakin' was supposedly inspired by Menahem Golan's daughter who told her father about a break-dancer she saw on Venice Beach but the truth is that the year before, a little German documentary about the hip-hop scene at a little club called Radio-Tron in MacArthur Park, LA called Breakin' and Enterin' had become rather popular with little hype or advertising and Golan knew Orion Pictures were close to releasing their big Hip-hop dance film Beat Street. Call Cannon what you will but they knew a trend before anyone else and Breakin' was released four days before Beat Street and it stared almost every dancer that appeared in Breakin' and Enterin' and featured the Radio-Tron club itself. All that was added to the story was a poorly written exploration of class in dance and a sort of Romeo and Juliette romance. Break dancing and Ballet meet to create 'Jazz dance' and the rest is big-haired, sweat-banded, luminous-socked history. It seems, contrary to what everyone learned in Fame, that not all dancers can act but again, this all adds to the charm, better to have dancers that can't act than actors that can't dance in a dance film, but to be fair there are a few of those too. Just how people burst into song for no apparent reason in many a musical, Breakin' manages to break into dance routines just when something important (and non-dance related) is about to happen, which feels like a bit of a get out of jail cards as far as writing is concerned. The content, script and fact that the sequel came out just six months later suggests the writing process wasn't lengthy or open for much discussion (development) and as long as everyone kept dancing and smiling they might just get away with it, and of course, they did. Twice. To its credit, it is one of the funniest films of the 80s, albeit unintentionally. The music is pretty great too, although Ice-T's debut rapping performance is, in his own words 'Wack'. 'Wack' is also how he described the film, but he's clearly being modest. As far as a hip-hop film goes, it's about as authentic as you'd expect from a 55 year old from Tel Aviv but I won't have a word said against it. When a film gets pretty much everything wrong and still ends up being as captivating as Breakin', then how can you honestly say it is a failure? It actually got to number on at the box office and made $38,682,707 against its budget of $22.15 (or thereabouts).

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