Beat Street (1984)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5

USA, 1984. . Story by , Screenplay by , , . Cinematography by Tom Priestley Jr.. Produced by , . Music by Harry Belafonte, . Production Design by . Costume Design by , . Film Editing by , .

A group of young people pursue their artistic dreams against the odds in the Bronx in this bright and energetic film bursting with music and dancing. Kenny () wants to be a DJ and allows his friend Chollie () to manage him as he goes from one gig to the next, trying to be noticed by big-time promoters. His little brother Lee () is an expert breakdancer whose moves are spotted by college student , who invites him to try out for her school’s show and ends up in a romance with Kenny. The brothers’ friend Ramon () is a graffiti artist who spends his nights covering subway trains in his beautiful murals while his girlfriend Carmen () raises their daughter alone and Ramon’s father pressures him to get a proper job and take care of his family.

These are the dramas at the fringes of what is mostly a collection of fun and colourful musical numbers that still look and sound great, the film a wonderful tribute to the emerging hip hop scene of the mid-eighties that perfectly captures its vibe. Produced by Harry Belafonte, who also contributes to the soundtrack, the film works exactly right thanks to a tone of sincerity that allows the easy charm of its characters to speak for themselves, while making ample room for them to show off their impressive skills.

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