CANNON MONTH: Breakin’ (1984)

Whether you know this movie as Breakin’Breakdance the Movie or Break Street ’84, this film was inspired by a documentary named Breakin’ ‘n’ Enterin’, which told the true story of the talent at the Los Angeles hip hop club Radio-Tron, which included Ice-T and Michael “Boogaloo Shrimp” Chambers, both of whom appear here.

Menahem Golan’s daughter saw breakdancers perform in Venice Beach and was so excited that her enthusiasm inspired him to rush this movie into theaters, hoping to beat Beat Street. This would not be the last time that Golan was in a mad rush to get a dance-themed movie on screens before anyone else.

Kelly “Special K” Bennett (Lucinda Dickey, a Cannon all-star who is also in this film’s sequel and the magical Ninja 3: The Domination) is training to be a dancer under the direction of Franco (Ben Lokey). To help keep her inspired, her friend Adam (Phineas Newborn III) introduces her to Orlando “Ozone” Barco (Adolfo “Shabba Doo” Quiñones) and Tony “Turbo” Ainley (Chambers), two breakdancers who are self-trained and have their own unique style unlike anything she’s seen in dance school.

Kelly is met with disdain by everyone when she attempts to bring their energy into the world of dance. And then Franco gets way too intimate with her, so she quits training and becomes a breakdancer, upsetting the rich side of her life but fulfilling her spirit as she and the newly formed T.K.O. Crew defeat other dance teams like Electro Rock and her manager James Wilcox (Christopher McDonald, who I will always just call Shooter McGavin) starts seeing dollar signs.

Can Kelly unite art and the street? Of course, the story is very basic. But it’s the sheer joy of seeing this dance on screen, the amazing soundtrack — which has everyone from Rufus and Chaka Khan, Kraftwerk, Art of Noise, Hot Streak and Ollie & Jerry — and the time capsule 80s nature of this movie that make it a winner. Somehow, Cannon would top it with the sequel, somehow, someway.

Critics were all over this movie’s lack of a story, but who cares? We’re here for the music and the dancing choereographed by West Side Story dancer Jamie Rogers. It’s also one of the rare times when Cannon was making the trend instead of trying to be part of one.

Israeli director Joel Silberg went from this movie to a spiritual third film in the series, Rappin’, as well as Lambada, which was choreographed by Shabba-Doo. That movie — and its competition The Forbidden Dance — is a story we’ll get to soon.

Breakin’ is the final Cannon film production released by MGM/UA — to find out why, check out Bolero — which made Cannon become its own distribution company again. I wonder if MGM/UA had second thoughts, because Cannon turned this $1.2 million dollar movie into $38.7 million dollars at the box office. Breakin’ opened at number one and even outgrossed Sixteen Candles, which played on two hundred more screens in their first week.

Also, you probaby already know that this is Jean Claude Van Damme’s first movie appearance. He’s on the beach dancing next to Michel Qissi, who would be his rival Tong Po in Kickboxer. We should all aspire to the same joy that Van Damme has in this scene.

For more info on both Breakin’ movies, get Austin Trunick’s The Cannon Film Guide Volume 1: 1980-1984.

You can listen to The Cannon Canon episode about Missing In Action 2: The Beginning here.

And if you love this movie as much as me, you may want to get Super 7‘s ReAction three pack of Special K, Ozone and Turbo.

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