Get ready to learn the sport of “da-fi” in this exciting action packed film that is best described as a martial arts version of YOU GOT SERVED (2005).
A group of hip hop dancers work in children’s parties to get some money for various reasons. They are Mike (Jonathan Phan), Ben (Angel Catindig), Richie (Richie Greenfield), and Jay (Ricky Cole). When Mike learns of his father Sam (Howard Fong) needing surgery, he is nearly robbed by two thugs. Using his dancing skills, he fights them off, attracting the attention of Sam’s old friend Jimmy (John Kreng).
Jimmy introduces Mike to the world of “da-fi”, the art of dance fighting. Jimmy describes da-fi as a dance battle with real contact fighting. When Mike gets lucky in his first da-fi bout, he recruits his friends and good friend Rachel (Allison Dahlstrom) to join them. With Jimmy as their trainer, the team begins to persevere in the latest da-fi tournament. This comes when Mike learns that his father will need a quadruple bypass that will cost $85,000. When Jimmy informs the team that they will each win $100,000 if they win the tournament, they prepare for the battle of a lifetime, one that may change the lives of the five friends forever.
The art of the “dance battle” has been used since the 1980’s with amazing choreography in films like BREAKIN’ 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO (1984) and BEAT STREET (1984). However, in the more recent battles, the dance battle has taken a surge thanks to films like YOU GOT SERVED (2005) and STOMP THE YARD (2008). Writer-director Frank Lin came up with the great idea to take the dance battle and mix it up as a martial arts-themed film and the formula truly works here.
What is great in the film is the casting of the five friends of the film. Jonathan Phan, Allison Dahlstrom, Richie Greenfield, Angel Catindig, and Ricky Cole are great in their roles of the five protagonists, all of whom have their own issues yet they come together as if they are real friends on and off set. They even have some pretty great skills on the floor as they do some crazy flipping and kicking mixed in with some powerful punching all to the sound of hip-hop.
And who is the man responsible for choreographing the amazing da-fi sequences? John Kreng. Kreng, who wrote the best darned manual on fight choreography, not only serves as the choreographer here, but plays the heroic team’s mentor Jimmy, who doesn’t really have an agenda for his motives, but has a loyalty to his old friend Sam and thus, helps Sam’s son Mike and crew learn da-fi. All of the da-fi sequences are nicely shot and with a veteran like Kreng in the fray, it is clear to see why they truly are fun to watch.
In conclusion, BATTLE B-BOY may just be the most-underrated martial arts action film of 2012. A young cast who clearly have the chemistry mixed in with John Kreng as both mentor and fight choreographer makes this one to rent now, even possibly own. Plus, the outtakes over the end credits are quite hilarious.