It's ironic how an aggressive form of street dance from the Bronx—created to ease off gang violence—made its official spark on the world through Flashdance—a film we hope you're not the biggest fan of. Regardless of how it was initially introduced, thanks to its visual appeal, b-boys (wrongly known as breakdancers) quickly found themselves performing at presidential bowls, in television ads, and even Hollywood films. Unfortunately, as anything that gets over exploited, the art form soon lost its limelight by the late '80s, and was played out like polka dots.
Now nearly two decades later, street dancing and b-boying have resurged, and continue to win with films like Step Up 3D, which hits theaters this Friday (August 6th). The third installment of the popular franchise will feature more than 200 dancers, and b-boys showcasing headspins and flares in 3D. To commemorate the ongoing influence b-boys have on dance flicks, we're downrockin' it out with our 10 Favorite B-Boy Movies Of All Time...
#10: You Got Served (2004)
The Break: David (Omarion) and Elgin (Marques Houston) are dance homies that push for a drug lord on the side, but face challenges when series of unexpected events occur. In the end, they take back what they deserve, and forever embeds the corny phrase "you got served" in pop culture Rosetta Stone.
Complex Says: Forget the South Park and Robot Chicken parodies for a minute, and you can see how this film was responsible for initiating series of dance-battle-themed teen flicks that followed. Overall, scenes with b-boys were on point, and the success of this film's choreographed dance routines clearly supplied ideas for executives at MTV for shows like America's Best Dance Crew.
#9: B-Girl (2009)
The Break: Angel (Jules Urich) is a certified b-girl who has no choice but to leave her home in Brooklyn to Los Angeles. Having difficulty adjusting to a new environment, she mingles with local b-boys and attempts to start a new beginning.
Complex Says: Jules Urich, a.k.a. Lady Jules—a celebrated b-girl in real life—showcases flawless dance performances. And like women's soccer, sometimes we enjoy watching the other sex tear shit down in a male-dominated field.
#8: Warring Factions (2008)
The Break: An American born Iranian b-boy sets out to his motherland and battles local b-boys. During his stay, he discovers aspects of Iranian culture commonly misconstrued by the American public.
Complex Says: Luckily, the days of Bush-era-Fox-news propaganda has lessened (for now), but there's no doubt American perception of Iran is strongly misshaped. More of a personal saga to find the common ground between two cultures, Justin Mashouf takes the generally phrased notion of "hip-hop is a common language" and comes to terms of understanding with his Iranian side.
#7: Breakin' (1984)
The Break: Kelly (Lucinda Dickey)—a struggling jazz dancer—incorporates street dance elements to her routines after she befriends Ozone (Shabba Doo), and Turbo (Boogalo Shrimp).
Complex Says: There's no doubt the film is horrible, and Ice-T has every right to regret his affiliation. But on the flip side, this film introduced some of the most prominent lockers and poppers from L.A. at the time. Many amazing dance sequences—most notably Turbo swiping with the broom—have inspired everyone from Michael Jackson to Usher.
#6: Breakin' and Enterin (1983)
The Break: A film covering the hip-hop scene in Los Angeles, this early '80s documentary features Ice-T, Egyptian Lover, Shabba Doo, Boogaloo Shrimp, Pop 'n' Taco, and Boo Ya Tribe (when they were still known as Blue City Crew).
Complex Says: Although hip-hop and b-boy culture started out in New York, this film (which became the basis for Breakin') proves that its influence was felt throughout the country. Many street dancers who first appeared in this documentary go on to choreograph sets for pop stars like Michael Jackson and Madonna.
#5: Style Wars (1983)
The Break: A documentary directed by famed photographer Henry Chalfant, it chronicles the stories of young graff writers from New York City when mayor Ed Kosh implements new graffiti laws.
Complex Says: Despite the film's main focus on graffiti, it features a significant segment on a young Crazy Legs, and shows footages of a famous battle between the Rock Steady Crew and Dynamic Rockers.
#4: Beat Street (1984)
The Break: A group of friends from the Bronx—all active participants of hip-hop culture one way or another—attempt to build their reps in '80s New York City.
Complex Says: A more stylized, better scripted, and bigger budget version of Wild Style, this fictional tale of young b-boys, graff writers, MCs, and DJs lacked the initial impact its predecessor had on the culture, but nevertheless it's regarded as a hip-hop classic. The battle scene between the New York City Breakers and Rock Steady Crew is one of the more skilled b-boy battles recorded on film during the early '80s.
#3: Wild Style (1983)
The Break: Following the life of graffiti writer Raymond Zoro (Lee Quiñones), the film showcases scratching from Grandmaster Flash, rapping from The Cold Crush Brothers, and b-boying from the Rock Steady Crew.
Complex Says: Charlie Ahearn's magnum opus was in many ways a hip-hop instructional guide, which presented all four major elements of the culture. Expecting polished acting from any of the cast is nonsensical. The film needs to be viewed from an unbiased perspective, as someone who experienced hip-hop for the first time, which might be difficult in 2010, but you get the gist.
#2: Flashdance (1983)
The Break: Alex (Jessica Beal) works as a welder by day, and an exotic dancer by night. She hopes to get accepted as a student at a prestigious dance school, and eventually gets to audition.
Complex Says: Jessica Beal looks great, and we're not mad at the moves performed by her stunt doubles (Marine Jahan and Crazy Legs), but this film is dope in our books only because of the one-minute-and-a-half-long performance by the Rock Steady Crew, which single-handedly introduced b-boying to an international audience and forever made Jimmy Castor Bunch's "It's Just Begun" a b-boy jam staple.
#1: Planet B-Boy (2007)
The Break: Separated into four segments, the film takes a look at the lives of five different b-boy crews from various countries (Korea, Japan, France, and U.S.A) as they share their stories that lead to one of the world's biggest b-boy competitions—Battle of the Year.
Complex Says: As cheesy as it sounds, Ken Swift proclaims, "No matter what language you speak, you can communicate with hip-hop culture." This documentary clearly proved that art of b-boying has transcended national borders, and director Benson Lee's travels across the world to interview each team and its surroundings explored the humane side of b-boys that were rarely (if ever) uncovered in the past.