You’ve Got To Break It To Make It

My Shout! Factory angel sends me movies. Sometimes I ask for them, sometimes they just appear magically on my doorstep. Sadly though, sometimes I don’t have enough hours in the day to write reviews. So, when the double feature Blu-ray of Breakin’ and Breakin’ Two: Electric Boogaloo showed up I was heartbroken that I could not write about it in time for its release this past April 21. As a general rule, I don’t post a review after a film has been made available.

Then my wife and I watched the movie this weekend. And like Special-K, I broke the rules! (My own rule, but still…)

I have not seen the film since 1984. However, that viewing is historical for me – it was the first movie I went to see at the theater without my parents or any parents for that matter! I was ten years old. Along with my grade school buddy Jason Kim, I rode my bike to the Lincoln Village theater on Chicago’s northern border. This was a big deal – bringing my own money and getting their on my own. These few hours of freedom were the first hurdles of making the jump from adolescence to my coming teen years, where going to the movies would be a weekly ritual in the summers. I don’t remember if I liked or didn’t like the movie. I’m sure I thought it was awesome, goofy, dumb, funny and cool at the same time. During those years, I was obsessed with California culture. The clothes, the geography, the malls, the laid back attitudes and the wayward lifestyle of Hollywood types who hung out and lived their dreams no matter the odds. Breakin’ had all that.

I’m sure I’m speaking from a nostalgic perspective, but it’s still a solid and entertaining movie. Yes, it’s completely off the rails silly. Juxtaposing street dancing and gang culture can be laughable at times. However, there is a truth to the fact that street art – dance, music and graffiti – was breaking out into the mainstream in the early 80s. Note the start of the film where a spray can paints on the opening titles. It was playing directly to the audience – grown ups and the uncool where NOT allowed. The film is full of vibrant colors, music, plenty of dancing and even Ice-T rapping. It was a Hollywood education of breakdancing for suburbia and America ate it up. It opened at #1 and raked in almost 40 million bucks. No irony is lost on the fact that at the end of the film, our heroes end up starring in Street Jazz – a musical hybrid of jazz hands and b-boy popping – that ends up being a smash on Broadway. The collision of cultures was happening in the fictional world and in the real one. I’m not a anthropologic genius when I say that our cultural landscape was forever changed the b-boy movement.

Shout! Factory has put out a beautiful looking release of both films. Breakin’ 2 has a great audio commentary with director Joel Silberg, star Adolfo “Shabba Doo” Quinoñes O-Zone) and the film’s editor. They show a lot of love and speak with great detail about working on both movies. I was not aware how much Quinoñes brought the production of this movie because he was (and still is) very prominent in the street dance community. The fact everyone has such passion for a film they made decades ago is validating for fans who have fond memories and hold these movies in high regard. It makes us feel more connected to the material when the creators have the same affinity and love as we do. These are our collective shared experiences and there’s nothing worse than someone who flatly tells us “it was a job.” I enjoyed hearing all the great music in the film made even more enjoyable by my wife, who apparently remembered the lyrics to almost every song and made sure to sing them. I’m always amazed the things we learn about someone even after ten years of marriage. Thanks Breakin’!

If you want to pop it and lock it, throw down your cardboard and get your Blu-ray of here!

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