Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo

(1984)

by D. B. Bates, Editor-in-Chief

From 1979-1993, the Cannon Group — headed by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus — released a string of surprisingly successful low-budget films. They made stars of Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme, they lured bigger stars like Sylvester Stallone and Charles Bronson into their company, and they glommed onto huge franchise properties like Masters of the Universe, Superman, and Spider-Man. Despite the financial success of the films, the company almost always ran at a loss, and Cannon’s insistence on the lowest possible budget yielded bizarre but uniquely charming films. The goal of Cannon Corner is to pay homage to these films.

Sequels are all about raising the stakes, and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo does exactly that. In fact, it’s virtually identical to the first Breakin’, only with a sillier plot and crazier dance sequences. It also retains its predecessor’s sense of pure glee, preventing the movie from feeling like the crass cash-in it actually is.

The story hits all the same beats of the original: Kelly (Lucinda Dickey) struggles as a professional dancer but pines for the days of fun, dancing in the streets with Turbo and Ozone (Adolfo Quinones and Michael Chambers, respectively). Turbo continues to yearn for Kelly’s affections, but his jealousy over her blossoming career inadvertently pushes Kelly away. He wants her to volunteer at a colorful (literally — the building has a paint job you wouldn’t believe) neighborhood community center, Miracles. Unfortunately, a sinister developer (Peter MacLean) wants to tear down Miracles and replace it with a shopping mall. Will the power of break-dancing change the minds of City Council?

Although it mostly treads familiar territory, the screenwriters throw a couple of new peppers into the Breakin’ gumbo: this time around, Ozone develops a crush on an attractive dancer, which gives him more to do than act like a weirdo. Also, Kelly’s wealthy parents (Jo De Winter, John Christy Ewing) are introduced to act as the “haves” to the Turbo/Ozone “have-nots,” splitting Kelly’s loyalties. In a rewrite of a scene from the first film, Turbo and Ozone have dinner at Kelly’s house, and their brash/goofball sensibilities alienate her parents. Needless to say, Kelly rejoins “TKO” in defiance of her snooty parents.

In perhaps this sequel’s most interesting development, it introduces a little bit of darkness around the sunny edges of the Breakin’ universe: the film contains numerous disparaging references to street youths as either drug dealers or drug addicts, and Kelly’s parents raise legitimate (unanswered) questions as to how the seemingly unemployed Turbo manages to afford such stylish clothes.

Overall, Breakin’ 2 is about the joy of dance. This time around, the dance sequences are more elaborate and densely populated with rhythmic extras. They range from exuberant (dancing through the streets to protest the closing of Miracles) to surreal (Ozone dancing on the walls and ceiling of a rotating room either borrowed from A Nightmare on Elm Street or Lionel Richie’s “Dancing on the Ceiling” video) to creepy as hell (Ozone and Turbo fighting over a female dummy they both “see” as their respective love interests — it’s a well-choreographed, deftly edited sequence that is nevertheless a little disturbing). The dance numbers reach their silliness apex when an energetic dance sequence breaks out among handicapped patients in a hospital ward, complete with “sexy nurses” (straight out of a 976 ad) and surgeons popping and locking shortly after losing a patient (who quickly returns to life and starts dancing himself).

As a dance film, it never lacks for imagination. As a story, it’s goofy and predictable. As a viewing experience, it’s a hell of a lot of fun — more fun, even, than the first one. Even people who dislike break-dancing (like me) will derive at least some pleasure from the sense of offbeat fun contained within Breakin’ 2.

D. B. Bates is a freelance script reader and writer.

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