Saturday, November 2, 2013
The Cinema File #267: "Battle Of The Year" Review
One might reasonably question my capacity to even review a film like Battle of the Year, considering my knowledge of the film's subject matter is so poor that I can't even construct this opening sentence with any more specificity. I don't even know what the thing they are doing in this movie is called. Is it Break Dancing? Break Dance Fighting? Electric Boogalooing? Do I refer to it as a sport? A competition? How is it scored? I don't see any judges, just a bunch of kids "You Got Serving" at each other and then affecting a derisive pose as if to suggest that they had just one upped the person in front of them, all with, at least as far as I can tell, the same level of physical acumen. I am at a loss. Perhaps it is because the film is so complicated in its central premise that the people behind this movie decided for our benefit to make the structure so insultingly simple and formulaic. You know, to help us out.
Battle of the Year is every underdog sports movie you've ever seen now applied to an activity that I am almost certain is not seriously considered by anyone to be a sport, not that I would regard it as any more valid if it were. It follows a man whose wife has died building himself back up with the help of a rag tag group of street performers brought together to reclaim the title of best "Whatever This Fucking Thing Is" Team for America, having previously lost the title to the Koreans. Presumably these are the South Koreans, which is to say our staunch allies and home to that lovable Gangnam fellow, not the evil Northern Empire, but the film conveniently does not make this distinction, because patriotism is always easier that way. Oh, and did I mention that they don't like each other at first, but then learn to work together as a team and learn an important lesson about themselves in the process?
If all this had been done ironically for the purposes of genre parody, I might applaud, but as it stands, I can only take it with the deadly seriousness it deserves. To its credit, while the jingoism is right out of Rocky IV (the best one), thankfully the movie is at least humble enough to end with the downer of the original Rocky, having the team lose by one point and have to find their self-esteem on the inside rather than through a trophy. Yeah, I know I just spoiled the end of Battle of the Year. What are you gonna do about it? You wanna fight or something? Well you better watch out, cause I learned all about dance fighting from Battle of the Year. Oh wait, I just said they lost, so all I learned how to do is lose at dance fighting. Fuck!
And you know what, come to think of it, the whole underdog thing doesn't even make any sense. When the team is brought together, its previously established that the recruits are all made up of the best street dancers in the country, a group that they literally call a Dream Team, inspired by the famous Olympic Basketball roster of professional ringers. Yeah they don't mesh well at first and have to get past their individual beefs and hang ups, but the Mighty Ducks, these cats are not. The thing that made the Mighty Ducks mighty is that they started from nothing and built themselves up into something great that could defeat those evil black-clad Icelanders. These guys are relative to their starting point at best Regular Ducks.
The only reason to watch this movie is for the same reason I did, to slowly lament over two hours the squandered career of LOST's Josh Halloway. This guy is way too good for this movie and knows it, just like he was way too good for his five minute cameo in Paranoia earlier this year and knew it then. Will they just do an X-Men movie with a present day Gambit and give this mother fucker a character he can sink his teeth into already? Watching him grizzle it up as the coach with the tragic past who learns to love again through the power of hanging around with young boys is sad and weird for even more reasons than it should be. Or Punisher. He'd be a good Punisher too.
You know what, no, fuck this, I'm not going to just completely cede any claim to appreciating the art of modern street influenced dance, as if I'm just so unqualified to critique this piece of shit for the piece of shit that it is. I sat through two whole seasons of that Hulu show League of Extraordinary Dancers waiting for something to actually come of it. That's gotta count for something, right? Okay, fine, connoisseur I am not, but I know a bad movie when I see one, and even if this is the best Break Dance Slam Fighting Whatever The Fuck movie ever made (which I'm guessing its not), its only not the worst movie of the year because Vince Offer and Tyler Perry also made movies this year. You can't see it, but I just danced threateningly at this movie and then gestured tauntingly, signifying my victory. I await the invisible judge's ruling.