Breakin' (also known as Breakdance: the Movie or Break Street '84) is a 1984 American breakdancing-themed comedy-drama film directed by Joel Silberg and written by Charles Parker and Allen DeBevoise based on a story by Parker, DeBevoise, and Gerald Scaife. The film's setting was inspired by a 1983 German documentary titled Breakin' and Enterin', set in the multi-racial hip hop club, Radio-Tron, based out of MacArthur Park in Los Angeles. Many of the artists and dancers, including Ice T (who makes his film debut as a club MC) and Boogaloo Shrimp, went straight from Breakin' and Enterin' to star in Breakin'. Ice T has stated he considers the film and his own performance in it to be "wack".
The musical score featured the hits, "Breakin'... There's No Stopping Us" by Ollie & Jerry and "Freakshow on the Dance Floor".
Breakin' was the final Cannon film production released by MGM/UA. After release, MGM and Cannon dissolved their distribution deal, reportedly over the potentially X-rated content in John Derek's film Bolero and MGM's then-policy of not theatrically releasing X-rated material, forcing Cannon to become an in-house distribution company once again. Because of the demise of the distribution deal, Breakin' is considered to be the final financially profitable film released by Cannon.
Kelly is a struggling young jazz dancer and, through her gay friend Adam, she is introduced to two Street dancers, Ozone and Turbo, who have a bitter rivalry with another crew known as Electro Rock, consisting of poppers Popin' Pete, Bruno "Pop N Taco" Falcon, and Lollipop. They also struggle to overcome scorn from Kelly's dance instructor, Franco, who disapproves of her hybrid dance style and affiliation with street dancers. Kelly soon becomes the sensation of the street crowds. Through it all, the audience is treated to a variety of breakthrough performances, including Turbo's "Broom Scene" and Taco's unique popping solos during the dance battles at the Radio-Tron nightclub.
According to the 2014 documentary Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, Menahem Golan of Cannon Films was inspired to create this film after his daughter saw a breakdancer in Venice Beach, California, one day. At the same time, he pressured the production crew to complete the film before Orion Pictures released their breakdancing film Beat Street.
The soundtrack of the film was released by Polydor Records in 1984. The album contains the first performance on an album of rapper Ice-T produced by DJ Chris "The Glove" Taylor & David Storrs. (He had released some 12" singles previously.)
- "Breakin'... There's No Stopping Us" by Ollie & Jerry – 4:34
- "Freakshow on the Dance Floor" by Bar-Kays – 4:42
- "Body Work" by Hot Streak – 4:22
- "99 ½" by Carol Lynn Townes – 4:02
- "Showdown" by Ollie & Jerry – 3:57
- "Heart of the Beat" by 3V – 4:18
- "Street People" by Fire Fox – Music by (Ollie & Jerry) 3:23
- "Cut It" by Re-Flex – 3:11
- "Ain't Nobody" by Rufus and Chaka Khan – 4:45
- "Reckless" by Chris "The Glove" Taylor & David Storrs - Rap by Ice-T – 3:57
Despite not being included on the official soundtrack, the film also features the songs "Tour de France" by Kraftwerk, "Boogie Down" by Al Jarreau, and "Beatbox" by Art of Noise.
Breakin' opened in 1,069 venues on May 4, 1984 and outgrossed Sixteen Candles, which had more screens (1,240). The film ranked number one in the box office, earning $6,047,686. By the end of its run, the film grossed $38,682,707 in the domestic box office.
Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 43% of seven critics gave the film a positive review.
On August 5, 2003, MGM Home Entertainment released Breakin as a bare-bones DVD. On April 21, 2015, Shout! Factory released Breakin, along with the sequel Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, as a double feature Blu-ray.
Breakin' was followed by a sequel, entitled Electric Boogaloo, released in 1984.
Several months prior to the film's release, Shabba Doo, Boogaloo Shrimp, 'Pop N' Taco, Popin Pete, DJ Chris "The Glove" Taylor and Lollipop were all prominently featured in the music video for Chaka Khan's remake of the 1979 Prince song, "I Feel for You".
Shabba Doo and Boogaloo Shrimp also featured in Lionel Richie's "All Night Long" video.