Battle of the Year 3D is a fictional story based on a U.S. “Dream Team” of b-boy dancers who head off to France to win the title of the best in the world. In the film, this genre of dance -- that was invented here in the States -- has not produced an American champion in fifteen years. Dante (Laz Alonso) runs the company who sponsors the American team and he has had it with losing.
So, he hires his longtime friend Jason (Josh Holloway, last seen onscreen in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) to turn things around.
The problem is that Jason’s situation is so typical of Hollywood-come-from-behind flicks. It is honestly the first of many cliches that permeate this film that otherwise features some incredible dance routines that come at audiences in 3D. Jason was a former street dancer with Dante who was amazing and when he got married and had a child, he left the dance world for something more stable... being a high school basketball coach that would see him winning championship after championship.
Then, tragedy strikes and when Dante finds him to head up this “Dream Team,” he is drunk and living a pity party. Saw that coming, didn’t you? Bet you cannot guess where the story goes from there!
As so brilliantly teased in the Battle of the Year trailer, there is something that allows the audience to put up with the series of predictable moments and inspirational lines from coaches that we’ve heard in a million sports movies. The dancers that director Benson Lee has assembled not only can dance unlike anything we’ve seen on film of late, but they also can act when called upon.
The crew that is assembled is led by Chris Brown, who trades in his gossip site headlining generating personal life to actually showcase his uncanny talent as an all-around entertainer. His dance moves, with choreographer Dave Scott’s adept work, pop off the screen. And when he has a predictable character-has-to-grow-up moment, Brown pulls some emotional strings that almost make you forget what you’re watching is something you saw coming a mile away.
In the end, the reason to see the film is the Battle of the Year 3D dancers. They pop, lock and bring it in ways that will actually find you cheering at the screen when the ultimate predictable showdown in France takes place. Perhaps there is a reason why these cliches dig deep and you-can-do-it films are so popular. Our Battle of the Year 3D review can report that is because the audience can get lost in the rallying cry of seeing people achieving something outside of themselves for the greater good.
Dance, like this, is a team sport. And yes, as we hear several times in the film: There is no “I” in team. When this ragtag group of b-boys come together as one… it is something that will have you wanting to dance yourself. Maybe not in the aisles, just a little bit in your seat.
But as a film as a whole… Battle of the Year 3D provides nothing new to a genre in dire need of a fresh infusion. That fact doesn’t take away from the journey. It just greatly limits its emotional power that will not sustain much past the first of the final credits.