Sunday, April 26, 2015

Breakin’/Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Scott Schembra
In Breakin’, rich girl Kelly learns the moves of the street under the tutelage of Ozone and Turbo. In spite of her disapproving dance instructor, Kelly overcomes the odds to become a popping and locking princess – and the secret weapon in Ozone and Turbo’s battle against rival dance team Electro Rock. The beat doesn’t slow down for the slammin’ sequel to Breakin’, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo! A hip-hop homage to the “hey kids, let’s put on a show!” musicals of Hollywood’s yesteryear, this fly follow-up finds our heroes coming to the rescue of a community center facing demolition at the hands of a greedy real-estate developer. Featuring even more fancy footwork than the original film, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo is unquestionably the greatest film (title) of all time.
Films (1 1/2 out of 5 stars)

Get out your boombox and lay down your cardboard, Breakin’ is the 1984 break-dancing masterpiece focusing on Kelly, a struggling and somewhat naive young dancer trying to make it in the classical Jazz dance world. Kelly is introduced to Ozone and Turbo, two street break-dancers in all of their feather earring, jheri-curled glory. Turbo and Ozone have an intense rivalry with another street dancing crew called Electro Rock with whom they “battle” in multiple street dance- offs. Kelly catches the attention of Turbo and Ozone during one of these battles, with her distinct jazz style of dancing. They become friends, and eventually Turbo and Ozone take Kelly under their wing to teach her the ways of hip hop dancing much to the dismay of Kelly’s classical Jazz dancing teacher, Franco. Franco, jealous of street dancing and Kelly’s blossoming relationship with Ozone, tries to blackball the trio from a local dance contest. This ends up not coming to pass and the three enter the contest to beat out Electro rock and introduce break-dancing onto the scene as a legitimate style of dance. Through Kelly’s polish and the break-dancing duo’s high-energy street style, they manage to beat their rivals and earn the respect of the streets and competition judges alike.

Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo
Now lace up your Adidas because the second installment of the Breakin’ saga pop locks its way onto your screen with Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. Breakin’ 2 sees the return of the break-dancing trio of Ozone, Turbo and Kelly from the original and picks somewhat where the first left off. This time our heroes are using the power of street dancing to save a neighborhood recreation center. The three are now somewhat well respected mentors of the local youth community, taking kids under their wings and looking out for their community.  Corporate fat cats have come into the neighborhood though and begun the process of trying to bulldoze the local rec center to put in a strip mall. That is not going to happen if Turbo, Ozone, Kelly, the local down on their luck kids and the power of dance have anything to say about it. And when I say power of dance, I mean it. Throughout the ninety four minute run time, break-dancing manages to stop bulldozers, pay bills, end violent crime in the neighborhood and literally raise someone from their wheelchair. Electro music, break beats and pop locking, in the end, manage to bring the neighborhood together to stop the corporate big wigs and save the Recreation Center.

Let’s be completely honest: these films will not win awards. The acting is wooden, the plots are questionable at best, and the scripts may have been written on bar napkins during a long night of listening to Afrika Bambatta and drinking. That being said, you’re missing the point if technical polish is why you’re watching these movies. The music is electrically charged, break beat fun. The choreography and dancing is top notch, even at a time when this style was really just emerging into the public consciousness. Watching Turbo and Ozone pop lock, worm and slide they’re way around dance battles is enough to make you wish you were 8 years old again hearing “Freakshow on the Dancefloor” for the first time. Suspension of disbelief is a must, though, especially when you see a rather impressive dance piece involving Turbo, a broom, the ceiling and a lack of gravity. Thinking back to my childhood, this is actually the scene from the first movie that comes to mind whenever I think of Breakin’. All in all, the first movie is slightly better than the second. They are both cliché, but at least in the first one they don’t hit you over the head with it. Plus, as an added bonus, these movies treat you to the introduction of Ice-T who makes his rap debut as the entertainer/DJ “Rap Talker”.
Video (2 out of 5 stars)
One would figure that the aggressive neon clothes and flashing disco lights would be tailor made for the Blu Ray format, and while the video on both of these films was passable it was not a spectacular video presentation. The colors didn’t pop as much as you would expect them to and the Blu Ray treatment could not save these movies from still appearing “retro” or old. The neon colors do pop a little bit, but it still seems like an up converted DVD rather than a true Blu Ray video. I did find that switching the picture setting on my actual HDTV to Vivid rather than Standard helped to make the picture crisper, but when all settings was at default the picture was average.
Audio (3 out of 5 stars)
The audio presentation on both of these movies was more successful than the video. The bass of the hard hitting break beats and the zaps of the electro were sharp, clear and deep. The speakers on my television are average and the dialogue as well as the music came across clearly and without issue. There was no kind of echo or lag and the mixing was done well.
Extras (2 out of 5 stars)
The special features contain commentary with Bugaloo director Sam Firstenberg, which offer a decent insight into the filmmaking process of these films. It also features commentary from Ozone himself, and editor Marcus Manton. It also has a featurette called “The Elements of Hip Hop” and “The Culture of Hip Hop” which is a rather entertaining look into the culture that these films aim to showcase. In addition, the special features  include the original trailers which don’t really add a whole lot but are pretty entertaining nonetheless.
Summary (2 ½ out of 5 stars)
It’s guaranteed that if you were to read any other reviews on these movies, the word “cheesy” would be prominent in any of them. While I do agree (these movies have more cheese than Charlie from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” could handle), they are meant to be pure fun. Focus on the well choreographed dance pieces and chest thumping break-beats and you will enjoy these movies for what they are: A showcase to get the hip hop/break-dancing sub culture out to the public. I may have just watched these movies through nostalgically rose tinted glasses, but I highly enjoyed taking a walk back through the mid eighties hip hop boom for the combined run-time of 184 minutes.

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