FOOTAGE FETISHES: “BREAKIN’ 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO”

Pop. Lock. Repeat.

Okay, quit snickering you assholes.

As you all know, sequels are usually found to be qualitatively inferior when measured against the films that spawned them. Comparisons to their predecessors are inevitable, and most sequels suffer as a result of that little numeral appended to their name. At best, a sequel is viewed as “more of the same.” At worst, it’s lambasted as a blatant attempt to cash in on the success of the movie that preceded it (*cough* Lost World *cough*).

Few and far between are those follow-up flicks that hold their own against the original. Rarer still is the sequel that surpasses it. These are the films that manage to use the familiar characters and themes of the first movie while somehow putting a new spin on everything. Up until recently, most of us could only name a handful (“The Godfather Part II,” X2: X-Men United, “More Dirty Debutantes”) that fit this special category. That was before I gave “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo” a second look. Epic in scope, yet still reminiscent of the underdog spirit that marked the original, “Breakin’ 2” takes us back to a simpler time in America, when all anyone needed in order to stand tall against The Man was a boom box, a pair of fingerless gloves, and a mob of disenfranchised inner city youth. It’s also uncommon in that it simultaneously explores wildly diverse themes like greed, hope, class warfare, homoeroticism, and the pursuit of racial harmony through dressing badly.

Break It to Make It

Remember that dorky Caucasian friend you had in the ‘80s who insisted on breakdancing all over the place? Sure you do. He probably wore Izod Lacoste shirts and docksiders on a regular basis and couldn’t name two members of Run-DMC if asked (think about it). Regardless, you could always find him in the parking lot after a football game, popping, locking, and spinning his little preppie heart out, totally oblivious to the titters and chortles all around him. “Breakin’ 2” and its cinematic ilk are to blame for guys like him.

“Electric Boogaloo” came out the very same year (1984) as its precursor, the aptly named “Breakin.’” Obviously, producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus put their heads together after the first film’s surprise success and realized the window for capitalizing on this goofy headspinning shit was about as big as that for a gymnastics movie. That same year saw the release of “Beat Street” – the gritty, East Coast counterpart to “Breakin’” where people actually get killed, and “Body Rock” – featuring Lorenzo “Renegade” Lamas as a rapper named “Chilly”…trust me, it’s even worse than it sounds. Together, these three movies formed the vanguard of the cinematic breakdancing revolution that promised to change the Hollywood landscape forever.

Or until the white kids started doing it, which is generally the best indicator of when a trend is about to bite the big one.

Golan and Globus’ Cannon Group was responsible for some of the most notorious films of the 1980s: including the “Missing in Action” series, Charles Bronson’s “Death Wish” movies, and “Masters of the Universe.” And while we should all try to forgive them for “Nine Deaths of the Ninja,” I don’t know if anything but the careless use of horse tranquilizers can take away the pain of the “Breakin’” movies.

The story continues in part two of FOOTAGE FETISHES: “BREAKIN’ 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO”>>>

Discuss Pete Vonder Haar’s “Footage Fetishes” column in Film Threat’s BACK TALK section! Click here>>>




Posted on January 4, 2004 in Features by
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