Breakin’ (1984)

breakin poster 1984 movie review
5.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 2/10
Visuals: 7/10

Fun dancing

Poor acting and story

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Breakin’

Studio:  Cannon Films

Genre(s):  Musical/Drama

Release Date(s):  June 4, 1984

MPAA Rating:  PG

breakin 1984 ozone turbo dance battle

We don’t need a woman Yoko Onoing our group!

Classical dancer Kelly (Lucinda Dickey) is introduced to breakdancers Ozone (Adolfo “Shabba Doo” Quiñones) and Turbo (Michael “Boogaloo Shrimp” Chambers) and joins them in dancing after turning down the advances of her instructor Franco (Ben Lokey).  With a new manager named James (Christopher McDonald), Ozone, Turbo, and “Special K” are going to make a move to bring street dancing to the mainstream.

Directed by Joel Stilberg, Breakin’ is a musical dance movie based around breakdancing.  The movie performed well at the box office and received mixed reviews.  Breakin’ was the last film released with Cannon-MGM/UA deal.

I can remember seeing breakdancing on American Bandstand as a kid and (sadly) trying to emulate it with my friend on his Alfonso Ribeiro breakdancing board.  Breakin’ was the ultimate culmination of breakdancing, but it serve a purpose in doing a lot to mainstream the dance style and helping to merge hip-hop into other performances.

breakin 1984 ice t rapper

Ice T breaks it down!

The story for Breakin’ has heart but it is pretty bad.  The movie is fortunately short (under 90 minutes) and it doesn’t really need that much expansion.  I suppose it is a little better and not cliché that Christopher McDonald’s isn’t just going after Kelly and is actually trying to help Ozone and Turbo…but for the most part, the movie plays out exactly as you expect.

It also isn’t aided by the performances.  While “Shabba Doo” and “Boogaloo Shrimp” are solid dancers, it doesn’t necessary transfer to their acting scenes.  Despite that, they look like Laurence Olivier when compared to Lucinda Dickey who delivers all of her lines with a flatness and doesn’t really look all that comfortable in the breakdancing scenes.  Ben Lokey is the generic “villain” who is such a ’80s stock character that he could be substituted with anyone.  The movie features appearances by Ice T in his first performance to be put to album and Jean-Claude Van Damme can be seen in a black one-piece unitard at the beginning Venice Beach dance scene in his first film…almost glaring menacingly at the dancers.

breakin dance battle electro rock popin pete pop n taco lolllipop

I love the Electro Rock…especially Lollipop with the angriest dancing face

To be real, Breakin’ draw is the breakdancing.  As a kid, you saw the movie to see the dancers perform and the “new hip” dance style.  If you put the breakdancers of Breakin’ next to modern breakdancers, they probably don’t stand-up as well, and I can see why breakdancers saw the film as a sellout.

Breakin’ is a totally ’80s movie and like a Saturday Night Fever trying to benefit from the popularity of a dance style.  While Saturday Night Fever worked harder to develop a story (you can argue successfully or not), Breakin’ just brought the dancing.  The film’s popularity led to an immediate sequel in the popularly titled Breakin’ 2:  Electric Boogaloo also released in 1984.

Related Links:

Breakin’ 2:  Electric Boogaloo (1984)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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