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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Battle of the Year

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Steve Terada, Chris Brown and Anis Cherufa star in a scene from the movie "Battle of the Year."
In 2007, director Benson Lee countered the widespread but erroneous impression that break dancing (aka b-boying) was a thing of the past with his documentary look at its continued worldwide vibrancy, "Planet B-Boy."

Now he returns with a wide-eyed fictional variation on the same theme titled "Battle of the Year" (Screen Gems).

The street vocabulary deployed by all as this trite underdog story unfolds sets it off limits to younger moviegoers. But grown-ups will find little to bother them amid the energetic precision exercises of Lee's exploration of—and salute to—a subculture that dates back to the South Bronx of the 1970s.

Hip-hop mogul Dante Graham (Laz Alonso) is anxious for the American team he sponsors to win the international competition of the title, a contest in which they have consistently underperformed in recent years. So he hires Jason Blake (Josh Holloway), an old friend from his own groove-busting days, to shake things up and break the losing spell.

Blake's challenge is to put together an all-star "dream team" made up of the best dancers from across the country and, partly by drawing on his experience as a basketball coach, mold them into a cohesive unit.

Aided by Franklyn (Josh Peck), a young employee of Dante's company who becomes his assistant, and by Stacey (Caity Lotz), a choreographer Franklyn introduces into the mix, Blake works to instill notions of unity and teamwork into his ego-driven charges. Typical of the uphill struggle he faces is the acrimonious romantic rivalry that has ex-partners Rooster (singer Chris Brown) and Do Knock (Jon Cruz) trading insults and giving each other the finger at every opportunity.

Unbeknownst to the youngsters, Blake is also battling the drinking problem he developed following the tragic death of his wife and teenage son.

As scripted by Brin Hill and Chris Parker, "Battle of the Year" preaches predictable Hollywood homilies about the need for self-confidence, cooperation and hard work.

Tolerance is also extolled through the story of Lil Adonis (Richard Maguire), an openly gay b-boy who initially finds himself shunned by one of his teammates. Since his only aim is to be treated with respect as an individual and a peer, however, viewers of faith will be as supportive of Lil Adonis' cause as anyone else in the audience.

The film contains a fleeting scatological image, mature references, including to homosexuality, a few uses of profanity, considerable crude and crass language and numerous obscene gestures. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog To replace our sins with virtues may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately we can follow the example of the saints who have 
successfully defeated these sins in their lifetimes. They provide us with a way forward so that we, too, can live holy, virtuous lives.

 
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