When hip-hop (along with rap, breakdance and graffitti) broke out with a full force in the 1980s, it would be just a matter of time for the exploitation film-makers to take note. When “Beat Street” was announced for a release in 1984, clever exploiteers Golan and Globus from Cannon Films saw their opportunity and beat the competition with their own take on breakdance dancing.
Oblivious to many cool releases from 1980s, back in the day when I was first introduced to VHS, I was not aware of this one. Or maybe I saw the title and just passed it by, can’t really remember, but as for movies with dancing themes, almost all know about Dirty Dancing, many would remember Salsa (I remember having a page from a German teen weekly Bravo about this movie, but to this day I can’t speak German), but end of the 80s, I was interested mainly in actioners and horrors (which is understandable, as the dubbing provided was one-voice-for-all simultaneous stuff, so a lot of what was spoken would be lost in translation).
Anyway, although removed about 30+ years, I saw no reason not to pick up this movie and watch it, not just to watch Lucinda Dickey (remember her from Ninja III: The Domination? Well, she’s the same, except the short haircut. And no ninja stuff) in the main role, but mainly for Jean-Claude Van Damme in his quick appearance (and a funny one, I’ve got a good laugh, but hey, it was still a time before he has his break out, so give the legend the credit). Plus, Ice-T in, if I’m not mistaken, his first movie role. Well, and on top of that, cool breakdance moves!
The story…oh, the story!! Of course, like you haven’t known it. Disgruntled jazz dancer Kelly breaks from her dance class because of her asshole teacher Franco (played by Ben Lokey, looking just like a guy you’d like to punch) and join the duo of street breakdancers – Turbo (Michael ‘Boogaloo Shrimp’ Chambers) and Ozone (Adolfo ‘Shabba-Doo’ Quinones) in a dancing contest against the trio of Electro Rock (Bruno ‘Pop N’ Taco’ Falcon, Timothy ‘Poppin’ Pete’ Solomon and Ana ‘Lollipop’ Sanchez). With a help of Kelly’s agent James (Christopher McDonald) they enter the big competition of jazz dancers and – like you haven’t guessed it – they win it. The End.
Yeah, it’s that simple. But there is no reason why it shouldn’t be. The movie itself is rolling fast, the dance numbers are well choreographed and pleasing to the eyes (oh, yeah, I should see that when I was still a parket tiger, lol), the 80s fashion bring a nostalgic smile to those of us remembering it.
Absolutely one helluva guilty pleasure for all dance lovers.