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Case Number 26799

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Battle of the Year (Blu-ray)

Sony // 2013 // 110 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 6th, 2014

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson will out-dance any of you suckas, anytime, anywhere. He just has to be home for bedtime stories at 7:30p.

The Charge

B-Boys b-sucking.

Opening Statement

Just before 2013 came to a close, a front runner for "Worst Movie of the Year" revealed itself!

Facts of the Case

Blake (Josh Holloway, Lost) is a disgraced drunk ex-coach (is there any other kind), content to waste his life in his dirty hovel. His longtime friend and former B-Boy dance homey comes knocking and offers him a sweet deal: Sober up, take a shower and get the opportunity to coach the American team for the annual Battle of Year dance championships in France. Blake agrees, but wants complete control, implementing his own foolproof plan…

1. Get rid of the current dance crew and assemble a team of all-stars from across the country.

2. Lock his new team up in an abandoned prison and make them miserable.

3. Recruit an irritating sidekick (the rotund, annoying Josh Peck from Drake and Josh)

4. ???

5. Victory!

The Evidence

Battle of the Year is less an original film and more a collection of emaciated clichés, strung together with a hip hop soundtrack and incoherence. As each piece of moronic dialogue spilled from the actors' mouths I sat bewildered at the apparent self-delusion of the hapless scribes in the writer's room; don't these people realize they're just vomiting up platitudes? Or maybe humans aren't behind this script at all. Maybe this is the first film to ever be generated entirely by a computer AI? Not a particularly powerful computer, though. Like a Leapster. Or one of those Double Dragon LCD video game watches. Because there's no way that anything with even a modicum of number-crunching horsepower could produce something this bad.

This is a film made on a hunch, a $20 million wager that the target demographic is so young and/or oblivious they have never watched Hoosiers or Miracle or that episode of Family Matters where Urkel was drafted on the high school basketball team as a last-minute sub. Every beat that unfolds in Battle of the Year is stale. The coach is a hardass with a dark past and penchant for booze; the most talented dancer is a head case; the dancers have to overcome their biases and personal prejudices over geography, past romantic entanglements and sexual orientation; they're all underdogs; they have to come together as a team (the coach outlaws the use of "I" yes, really); the hotshot choreographers is a woman, which is weird, because, you know, she's a girl and stuff. Along the way, life lessons are learned and challenges are hurdled and dances are danced and montages are montaged and before you know it, it's time for Battle of the Year.

So how about it? The actual Battle of the Year? Sounds awesome! Here's the problem: I had no idea what was going on. The underdog Americans square off with the Korean championship team and they dance and do great moves and then an arbitrary score is shown at the end. Huh? How is this stuff measured? On the street, I'm guessing whoever ends up going home with the fly hotties are deemed the victors; but on a big stage in a competition sponsored by Braun? I have no clue what the judging parameters are, and as such, all I could do was watch these guys flip around and scream at each other and assume some were winning at some point or losing.

Even the dancing didn't strike me as particularly awesome. Sure, these guys are pulling off moves, which, if I were to attempt them, would leave me hobbled for life and peeing in a translucent bag, but I was bored. And for some reason, the writers opted to have one of their headliners go down with an injury in an artificial attempt to build tension. Big deal! Let your main guy dance! He's on the cover of your disc case!

That's all I've got. If this movie wasn't so self-serious and brain-dead it could almost earn a recommendation as a "so-bad-it's-good" experience, but, no, it's just bad.

The Blu-ray: 1.85:1/1080p, DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, a pair of Blu exclusives (extended dance sequences and a guide to break-dancing) joined by a featurette on the B-Boy culture and behind the scene training and rehearsal footage.

Closing Statement

For more exciting dance thrills, I suggest Body Rock.

The Verdict

Guilty. Nothing here is nearly as impressive as "The Sprain."

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 80
Acting: 60
Story: 40
Judgment: 45

Perp Profile

Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
• DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (French)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
• English (SDH)
• Spanish
Running Time: 110 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
• Bad
• Blu-ray
• Drama

Distinguishing Marks

• Extended Scenes
• Featurettes
• Digital Copy
• UltraViolet Download


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