5 Half-Decent Dance Battle Films
The dance film is one strange genre that just refuses to die, as ever-present as the home invasion horror and the boy-meets-girl romantic comedy. One subset of that genre to emerge in the last decade or so is the streetdance film, which more often than not has some more traditional dance form such as ballet meet a street dance crew and climax with a battle between rival groups. It’s not an area known for it’s quality, but there are a few good films out there, and we’ve done some digging so that you don’t have to.
To celebrate the release of the newest example, Battle of the Year (out September 20), here are five decent dance battle films to check out:
It’s rare for a franchise to get better with age, but that’s exactly what Step Up has done – starting with a lackluster tale of culture clash (starring Channing Tatum) and building on the idea for each of its three subsequent sequels. The third in the series, Step Up 3D adapted the concept to a dance battle format, in which a group of New York dancers find themselves striving to beat the world’s best streetdance crews. It’s the visuals that put this over the top, with the 3D only complimenting the stunning dance sequences.
Not technically a dance movie in the same way as some of the others, Bring It On actually features the final battle even more prominently. Cheerleading competitions are a strange thing for outsiders to grasp, since the practice was invented as a sideshow to other sports, but the cutthroat nature of the world is brilliantly portrayed in this admittedly fluffy teen comedy. Surprisingly, there are some interesting things to say about race relations etc., but it’s the high energy and sense of fun that make this a classic.
A thoroughly British take on the genre, Streetdance 3D took advantage of the exploding streetdance scene back in 2010. Following a year of Britain’s Got Talent with a finale dance battle of its own (between Flawless and Diversity), the movie features those real-world dance crews and 2008 winner George Sampson integrated into an entertaining, if unoriginal, story about a street dance crew and ballet troupe forced to share rehearsal space. It’s one of the best dance flicks of recent years, and comes recommended.
A fully-fledged musical, and one of the greatest movies of all time, this modernized take on Romeo and Juliet takes the battle element of the dancing quite literally. Made in 1961, this was before blokes dancing in unison was considered manly or, you know, socially acceptable, but the film shares a lot of the same elements as the modern streetdance movie. It’s the same issue of race and class relations, and using dance as a replacement for on-screen violence, making you think how far back you can trace the tropes of the genre.
Like Battle of the Year, 2007 dance flick Stomp the Yard features a starring role from Chris Brown, showing off his slick moves hoping we ignore his lack of acting talent. What sets the movie apart from the countless competition, however, is it’s setting in a college fraternity rather than on the mean streets of suchandsuch – where I’m sure they have better things to do than dance – instantly placing the action in a real world-ish context that makes the battle-conceit that little bit more believable (and relatable) by the finale.
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