Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures
Warning: THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS ABOUT BATTLE OF THE YEAR. HOWEVER, IF YOU ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT SPOILERS FOR BATTLE OF THE YEAR, YOU’RE DOING SOMETHING WRONG.
For me, Battle of the Year will forever be know as the “Where’s Chris Brown?” movie, as in “Where’s Waldo?”
Let me start by saying, I’m no Chris Brown fan, for reasons I’d rather not get into here (but you can probably guess). But he is talented guy and, by far, the biggest star in this movie.
And the movie—about an all-star group of break dancers training to become a “team” and bring home the trophy at an international B-Boy competition—treats him that way.
One of the many (many) problems with the film is that the various B-Boys don’t become distinct characters to us—they all more or less blend together. But then there’s Chris. While he’s not doing himself any favors by playing a cocky bad boy (hey, that’s between him and his agent), his arc is virtually the only one we care about in the entire film. And then he just . . .disappears.
Okay, not out of thin air: His character gets an injury so he can’t travel to France for the big competition. But it makes zero sense, from a narrative perspective. I don’t know what happened there: Scheduling problem? Chris couldn’t get a visa? He hates escargot?
Whatever the case, the final 40 minutes of the film—as the team battles on stage and comes together as a unit—contains no Chris Brown. Weird.
That aside, it’s a movie about B-boys. So is at least the dancing great?
Well, yes and no. I’m in awe of what these guys can do up on that stage—they seem to defy both the laws of gravity and human physiology—but director Benson Lee films the dance sequences with a flashing, strobe-like effect that makes the movement hard to follow (and gave me a headache). These guys are awesome enough as it is—we don’t need special camera effects.
Poor Josh Holloway, as the team’s alcoholic leader (a former basketball coach, which makes perfect sense) is practically carrying a sign that reads: "I’d Rather Be Back on Lost."
Hey, come to think of it, maybe that’s where Chris Brown went!