Beat Street (1984) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: Stan Lathan
Starring: Rae Dawn Chong, Guy Davis, Jon Chardiet
Rated: PG/Region A/1:85/1080p/Number of Discs 1
Available from Olive Films
With dreams of breaking out of their South Bronx existence, friends Kenny Kirkland (Guy Davis, Final), an erstwhile disc jockey; Kenny’s brother Lee (Robert Taylor, Avenging Force), a breakdancer; and their friend Ramon (Jon Chardiet, Money Talks), a graffiti artist, see a ray of hope when local composer and choreographer Tracy Carlson (Rae Dawn Chong, The Color Purple) takes an interest in their talent. But these friends will find that dreams are hard won in the musical drama Beat Street, directed by Stan Lathan (Amazing Grace) and written by Andy Davis, David Gilbert and Paul Golding based on the story by Steve Hagar.
Beat Street is probably known by most folks as “that break dancing movie that isn’t Breakin'”, but a good watch of the film will show that it is a movie with a lot more mature and level-headed groundwork than Breakin’. Sure, Breakin’ might be the more fun and goofy film, but you get more story and solid characters here. You also get dancing, rapping, people spraying subways stations, drama, and even death. It is a dark by nature film, but it is more of a reality based film as well. In this world, if you randomly break-out into a dance war in the middle of the street you can get yourself tossed in jail. Which I think is probably a more logical thing when compared to that other film that I’ve probably name dropped in this review too many times already. We have a whole lot of things going on between the cast of characters we get here and it keeps things interesting, but I admit there are times we probably wish things were more straight forward with one clear issue, but at least regardless of that, things never do get boring and that is always a plus. You also can’t deny the talent of the people doing the break dancing, which is a major selling point to the movie as a whole.
The movie also has some cool rapping moment, especially a Christmas Rap scene that features Kool Moe Dee and The Treacherous Three. If nothing else, I’d call Beat Street a bit of a cool look back at a time that gets more and more in the past each day, but thankfully we have movies like this to remind even the youngest of movie watchers how awkward and awesome the 80’s were. Sure, this isn’t a perfect film and might be a little too all over and not enough of some stuff to really hit the top ranks of anything, but it is cool enough to be able to watch and have some fun with. The release here looks about a good as anyone might expect from Olive. They don’t usually toss bad-looking discs out there (under the Olive name) and this one is a very nice looking release. We are short on extras, as all we get is a trailer, but at least we have the movie in HD. No, I don’t think Beat Street is as good as Breakin’, but it might not be that much of a step below it either.
Quality of Transfer: 87%