Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Looking for the Perfect Beat

Yesterday, over at Trespass Magazine, I discussed the newly released Blu-ray edition of Stan Lathan's 1984 hip-hop breakdance musical Beat Street. I tweeted as I was writing the piece that "writing about Beat Street is one of my favourite things to do", and it's true! Something about this movie is so invigorating and exciting that writing about it proves an extremely enjoyable thing to so. Perhaps it is because so few people seem to even know about the film let alone have seen it, but I so got a kick out of "pumping out the jams" (as somebody in the 1980s might say) of the absolutely killer soundtracks and waxing lyrical about a film that so many people would dismiss out of hand as little more than a teen dance flick. Oh how wrong they would be.

It's curious that Beat Street's first Blu-ray release is the Australian region 2 edition that is now a prized possession amongst my newborn Blu-ray collection. More so than its more pop-oriented cousins of the same year, Breakin' and Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, I've always felt that Beat Street features a very American look at the hip-hop and dance culture of the 1980s. Whereas Breakin's soundtrack was all about Chaka Khan, Ollie & Jerry, and 3V who all permeated the global music charts, Beat Street's soundtrack of Grandmaster Melle Mel and the Furious Five, Afrika Bambaataa, Jazzy Jay, The Treacherous 3 and so many others tend to evoke a sound that never full entered the worldwide consciousness for several more years. I personally love the appearance of latin freestyle pop superstar of Brenda K Starr, whose "Vicious Beat" only exists within the 45 seconds she appears on screen!

What a corker of a song! It actually pains me knowing that we will never get to hear the entire version of the song as it (apparently) currently sits in a vault somewhere in a producer's office.

I routinely find myself trying to extol the virtues of the teen dance subgenre for the way they routinely have more interesting things to say about the nature of community and art, but it seems so few want to listen because, oh I dunno, the music's too loud or something. Beat Street was, I think, warmly met upon its release in 1984, but it has been reassessed by many and is ultimately seen as the era-defining almost-classic that it really is (the central romance involving Rae Dawn Chong is admittedly just a lot of fluff) and I hope its Blu-ray release here, and hopefully elsewhere in the near future, will only further develop the cult of Beat Street. The original title of the film was "Looking for the Perfect Beat" and, gosh darn it, I think they found it.


bigphill said...

I need this blu ray, one of my fav films of all time, I hate that its not on a region one blu ray....and I can't understand why there isn't much press on this movie

bigphill said...

Is this going to be on a regtion 1 disc

Glenn Dunks said...

Unfortunately I'm unaware of any US release, but I don't really know who to follow for that sort of information. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

No extras on the blu-ray? trying to find info.