The movie has a fantastic introductory by teaching the audience about B-Boy history and how it was processed into break dancing, an American fad by mass media. On the contrary to the U.S. mainstream’s abuse of the art form, B-Boying expanded globally around the world due to its first commercial appearance in the movie Flashdance thanks to the infamous appearance of The Rock Steady Crew. B-Boying became a youth movement of individual expression. When it came to B-Boying the rest of the world “got it” when the United States forgot it.
A few years later an international competition was created called Battle of the Year. It began in 1990 by a German B-Boy enthusiast, Thomas HergenrÃ¶ther, who embraced the art form and its competitive expressive nature. While B-Boying practically vaporized in the United States, Battle of the Year became a global B-Boying World Cup style sensation. It is the grandest of all competitions annually scheduled in Braunschweig, Germany. In the film, 19 nations represented in the finals from a global tournament bracket for the International BOTY 2005 competition.
The finals begin with elimination rounds by crews taking turns and performing B-Boy choreographed routines. If a crew scores high according to several charted factors they will move on to the next round. Only the final four ranked teams will compete for first thru third rankings during a traditional battle cypher. Two teams battle for 1st Place and two will battle for 3rd. Overall the 2005 finals were based on 1st – 3rd place rankings while one team will win Best of Show due to innovation of their routines choreography.
The documentary is edited straight to the point during this 96 minute film. The movie’s pace was always on beat as we were taken into the personal lives of these young men whom face adversity from their parents, families, and social norms and prejudice. Many of these young men live in extreme poverty from the cities to countryside towns yet they all have extreme convictions of fulfilling their dreams to compete in Germany.
One of the burdens we learn is that every Korean male must serve 2 years in the military. During these 2 years of service they can not dance therefore there skills deteriorate before they are discharged. For these Korean crews they place more emphasis and dedication into their skills to win Battle of the Year than anything else. They practice everyday through the night until the early morning. This thoroughly explains why Korean B-Boys are considered a phenomenon and the most technically sound of all nations during the past 5 years before this film was made. They have never represented in Battle of the Year until the 21st century began.
This movie definitely lives up to its title because the rest of the world gets to see B-Boys rocking in all continents. They are even passing it down to neighborhood children for the next generation to evolve the art form. It is a fantastic movie that reminds us what being young and youthful is all about. The spirit these B-Boys have is ultimately reminding us that being young is being creative, adventurous, daring, expressive, experimental, fraternal, and your realization of individuality. There was even a zestful 66 year old woman B-Boying, senior citizen style, called “Crazy Granny” who was in love with the art form.
This film made me very happy. It made me remember whom I was when I was coming into my own as a young man filled with fantastic ideals and determination to reach out to the world and leaving my signature on it! I was rooting for all of these teams to win. I was even rooting for the B-Boys whose longing-ness needed to be filled by honoring their families and lost loved ones. One scene in the movie got me choked up and that was when emotions were openly shared between Japanese B-Boy, Katsu, and his Mother and Brother. It was a very powerful scene to me regarding their strong family bond and love for each other. It was the most beautiful scene, but maybe because I am that sentimental.
Planet B-Boy is a must watch for any Hip Hop culture purist, fan, and aficionado. It is a movie for everyone whom embraces youth movements. I personally own DVDs of must have Hip Hop films including Style Wars, Just for Kicks, The Freshest Kids, the Scratch series, Wild Style, and a few classic others. I made a special golden place in my library for Planet B-Boy to fill. I can not wait to watch it again. I know the audience I watched it with can not wait to watch it again either and
not just because of their applause of happiness. That happiness was also expressed by those few ecstatic B-Boys who hit the front row floor and started rocking to the credits’ soundtrack. It was just that good!
Job well done to its creator Benson Lee, his team, and Elephant Eye Films! Job well done!
Maybe one day nations will no longer go to war but battle it out in a B-Boy cypher, and that would redefine what the Art of War should truly be!
2005 BOTY performance by Ichigeki of Japan