Battlefield America: Film Review

Urban hip-hop dance competition movie brings nothing new to the table.

R&B singer Marques Houston stars as a self-absorbed businessman arrested and ordered to teach dance at a local community center in Chris B. Stokes' hip-hop dance competition movie.

An urban dance movie that serves as a more effective parody of the overworked genre than the Wayan brothers’ admittedly lamentable Dance Flick, Battlefield America manages to pack every cliché imaginable into its overstuffed and overlong 106 minutes. Brought to you by Chris Stokes, the writer/director who inflicted You Got Served on audiences several years back, this woeful effort is unlikely to match its predecessor’s unlikely success.

Actor/R&B singer Marques Houston, who co-wrote the screenplay, stars as Sean, a self-absorbed businessman on the fast track at his Los Angeles marketing firm. Unfortunately, just as he’s about to make partner he’s arrested on a DUI and is sentenced to community service.

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Instead of doing something useful, such as, say, picking up garbage on the highway, he winds up at a local community center where--despite the fact that he has no experience whatsoever--he’s assigned to teach a bunch of young kids how to dance.

So naturally he brings in a pro (Russell Ferguson, a former winner on TV’s So You Think You Can Dance) to handle the dancing duties while he instead spends most of his time insulting his young charges and wooing the center’s gorgeous female director, Sarah (Mekia Cox).

As you might expect, Sean eventually comes around to accepting his responsibilities, even serving as a father figure to several of the troubled kids as they prepare to compete with the rival “Bang Squad” at the all-important Battlefield America dance competition.

The drama is strictly rote and so, unfortunately, are the copious hip-hop style dance sequences which mainly look like old Michael Jackson videos run amuck. In the current fashion, they are shot and edited in such herky-jerky fashion that it’s virtually impossible to follow the action, let alone tell whether or not the young dancers possess any actual talent.

Naturally, a dramatic crisis develops when Sean is read the riot act at his firm for not fully devoting himself to pursuing a big account. When he informs the kids and Sarah of his decision to return to work, he’s treated as if he’s committing a crime against humanity.

Audiences probably won’t spend much time worrying such things as whether Sean will eventually do the right thing, if he’ll get the girl, and if his ragtag charges will pull it together to strut their stuff at the big dance-off being held at L.A.’s Staples Center. They may, however, wonder why they simply didn’t save their money and wait for that next Step Up movie coming out later this summer. 

Opened June 1 (Cinedigm Entertainment).
Production: Brian & Barrett Pictures.
Cast: Marques Houston, Mekia Cox, Lynn Whitfield, Tristen M. Carter, Chandler Kinney, Tracey Heggins, Christopher Jones.
Director: Chris B. Stokes.
Screenwriters: Christopher B. Stokes, Marques Houston.
Producers: Sharif Ahmed, Marques Houston, Jerome Jones, J. Christopher Owen, Chris Stokes, Zeus Zamani.
Executive producers: Jason Charles, Kevin Douglas, Leslie Ezidore, Marsha Powell, Geno Taylor.
Director of photography: Miko Dannels.
Editors: Sherril Schlesinger, Harvey White.
Production designer: Tema L. Staig.
Costume designer: Marlena Campbell.
Music: Michael J. Leslie.
Rated PG-13, 106 min.