Breakin’ (1984) Review

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BREAKIN’

*** Out of 5

Tagline- For the Break of Your Life!

Release Date- May 4th, 1984

Running Time- 87-Minutes

Rating- PG

Screenplay- Charles Parker, Allen DeBevoise & Gerald Scaife

Director- Joel Silberg

Starring- Lucinda Dickey, Adolfo ‘Shabba-Doo’ Quinones, Michael ‘Boogaloo Shrimp’ Chambers and Christopher McDonald

Breakin’ was released in 1984 and I don’t know who came up with concept for this film, but whoever it is deserves some kind of an award. Back in the 80s breakdancing was quite the rage and here comes the Cannon Group to cash in on the popularity. Dance themed films were quite popular in the 80s as we had such films as Flashdance and Dirty Dancing, which was probably the most iconic of them all. Even the horror genre got in on it with Lucio Fulci’s Murder Rock, which also goes under the title Slashdance. While slightly different aerobic themed films were also popular with such films as Killer Workout and Ninja III: The Domination, which was also Cannon and like this film starred Lucinda Dickey. Breakin’ the film on hand here became a big success for Cannon and was their most popular film from a financial side of things and would even have a sequel the epically titled Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, which was also released in 1984. At the end of Breakin’ during the credits it’s showed in text how a sequel is coming, which I suppose Cannon had high hopes for Breakin’, which, proved to be accurate.

As I mentioned Breakin’ was a big hit for Cannon and pulled in about 38-million dollars, which may not sound like a big deal, but in 1984 that was big business. Of course the actual gross may not be totally accurate, but Cannon also made such films as Death Wish 2-4 and adding up their US gross it would add up to around 40-million and Death Wish 2 & 3 were very successful for Cannon, but point I’m trying to make is Breakin’ pulled in roughly about 2-million or so less than Death Wish 2-4 combined and when considering Cannon was also involved with such films as Missing in Action and the Stallone films Cobra and Over the Top as well as Superman IV (regardless on quality its an iconic character) it’s actually quite impressive on how successful Breakin’ ended up being. I’m not really sure why this film was such a huge hit I know breakdancing was quite popular at the time, but it’s still quite surprising that Breakin’ was such a huge hit.

Breakin’ is the heartwarming story of Kelly (Dickey) a waitress/dancer who dreams of making it big. She forms a partnership with Ozone (Quinones) and Turbo (Chambers). The trio wants to enter a competition, but nobody wants break dancers since its nothing but street dancing. But of course our trio is able to enter and are a smashing success and warm over the judges and become a huge success.

The screenplay was written by Charles Parker, Allen DeBevoise & Gerald Scaife and I’m not totally sure why it took three people to write this but ok. There really isn’t much plot as the film is filled with cheesy 80s dance music and a lot of dancing. Somewhere in between this there is hint of a plot, but than its right back to dancing. Character wise they’re cliched, but a likable bunch and sure they don’t have the most depth, but characters are fairly decent. Mixed in with all the happy dancing are some overly dramatic moments and we get an awesomely bad, but a highly entertaining screenplay.

Director Joel Silberg crafts a fun film that’s mostly well paced, but by the end the constant dance scenes begin to get a bit tiresome, but Silberg always keeps the film fun to some degree. Intentional or not, Joel Silberg delivers an extra layer of cheese and Breakin’ is actually quite a feel good movie in that 80s sort of way. This isn’t masterful direction and sure it’s a bad film, but it is actually quite enjoyable.

One of the things Breakin has now become known for is being the first onscreen appearance for Jean-Claude Van Damme. Yes you read that correctly. The Van Damme has a very small uncredited role. Early into the film when Kelly dances at Venice Beach with Ozone and Turbo, Van Damme is in the background wearing a black singlet and he’s seen clapping and dancing around, which is quite hysterical. Apparently to get more attention he started doing back flips, which was edited out. For me this scene became Where’s Waldo only it was Where’s Van Damme. And lastly Ice-T also has a bit role and he also appears in the sequel.

Lucinda Dickey had quite brief film career, but has built up a nice cult following. Her first screen appearance was a minor role in Grease 2 and 1984 was her breakout year with Breakin’, Breakin’ 2 and Ninja III: The Domination. Her next film role wouldn’t be for another 4-years in 1988 and it was also her last film credit and that film would be silly slasher film Cheerleader Camp. I’ve really enjoyed each film I’ve seen with Lucinda Dickey and it’s too bad she didn’t make more films.

Overall Breakin’ is quite a silly film that’s light on plot and over dramatic at times and it’s filled with an insane amount of dance scenes. However with that said it really is such silly, but fun film.

Here’s Van Damme!!!

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