Arts Alliance America // 2008 // 97 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // December 19th, 2008
There's a whole lot more to breakdancing than you think.
Vibrant, enlightening, and electrifying, Benson Lee's documentary Planet B-Boy tracks the evolution of breakdancing and heads out to prove that this exciting urban dance is still thriving all around the globe.
Stuffed with informative interviews and plenty of powerful dance footage, the film invites its viewers on a thrilling world tour to explore the roots of B-boying (another term for breakdancing) and follow a bunch of dance groups as they gear up for the "Battle of the Year," the biggest and most prestigious breakdance competition there is.
Wow! Who could have thought that watching B-boying could be this exciting? Sure, we've seen quite a few acrobatic moves in all those cheesy Hollywood dance flicks over the past years, but this is the real thing. Planet B-Boy offers its viewers a compelling look into what breakdancing is all about, how it all started and where it is at today, and most importantly, what it is that really drives all these B-boys to cut loose and start dancing like crazy.
Although the film includes a quick but intense overview of where B-boying originally came from and what terms and techniques are important to be familiar with, the largest part of this documentary focuses on the "Battle of the Year," a large competition during which teams from eighteen countries put on their best moves to be crowned world champion of breakdancing. The road to the big event in Braunschweig, Germany, however, is not an easy one. The teams attending the "Battle" first have to fight their way through a series of eliminations in their own countries, and that alone is quite a challenging task. Believe it or not, but B-boying is still very popular around the world, and Lee's film couldn't do a better job at documenting why that's the case.
Featuring a horde of insightful interviews with passionate dancers who describe how they got hooked to B-boying and what it means to them, the movie explains that for these people, dancing is not all about putting on a show. For most of these talented B-boys, dancing is an emotional experience that gives them a purpose in life and helps them be the ones they want to be. Along the same lines, Lee does a fabulous job at attacking the stereotypical views that breakdancers have nothing better to do than jumping around all the time. No, as we see here, breakdancers are talented people who have plenty of determination and try everything in their power to actually fulfill their dreams.
For this documentary, Lee traveled all over the world to visit B-boying teams. Since he obviously couldn't go to all eighteen countries, he ended up focusing on dancers from France, the United States, Japan, and South Korea. Cultures may differ drastically in many ways, but B-boying, as he shows us, is something that's always universal. No matter how you look or what language you speak, everybody understands and feels the power of these impressive moves and techniques, and it's something everybody can share. Indeed, the dance footage in Planet B-Boy is visually compelling. Whether the dancers perform on stage during the "Battle," in the middle of the street in their hometowns, on the sidewalks, or inside train stations, their moves constantly light up the screen and deliver the goods.
The Planet B-Boy DVD carries a solid 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer, which boasts a sharp picture quality and gives the B-boying the visual treatment it deserves. The audio transfer works just as fine, although I have to admit I had to turn up the volume higher than I usually do to get the best result. That, however, is the only minor issue I've come across during my viewing.
Besides a photo gallery, the bonus material on this disc also includes "More on B-boying," a 24-minute featurette with more information about the history of breakdancing via a bunch of interesting interviews with some of the key players featured in the movie. It's a solid extra and a nice addition to the material covered in the main presentation.
Planet B-Boy is a great introduction to the world of breakdancing, and it proves B-boying is more popular than many of us may think. If you're looking for some new knowledge, this documentary definitely teaches you an unforgettable lesson.
Not guilty! Let's dance!
Review content copyright © 2008 Franck Tabouring; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Arts Alliance America
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Photo Gallery
* More on B-Boying
* Official Site