'Battle' the same old song, dance.

AuthorHartlaub, Peter

Byline: Peter Hartlaub

Distributed by Screen Gems (Sony)

Rating: PG-13 for language and some rude behavior

Runninig time: 1 hour and 49 minutes

Since the death of disco led to the Age of Irony in 1979, the ridiculous has often met the sublime in film. ''Road House'' star Patrick Swayze built a career finding these kinds of roles.

But there may be no more surefire equation in cinema than ridiculous + sublime + dance battles. ''Battle of the Year'' is an enjoyable movie not because of any special gifts by the filmmakers or emotional resonance in the script. It was more like destiny. Once someone jotted down the concept on a cocktail napkin and hired B-Boys who could actually dance, the movie pretty much had to turn out OK.

The story is a derivative quilt, patching together cliches from every sports movie since 1976. ''Lost'' heartthrob Josh Holloway is likably scruffy as Derrek, an alcoholic coach looking for one more chance, molding a rag-tag dance squad to challenge a superpower (the Koreans) at an international breakdancing competition.

Coach Derrek's frequent nips from his flask would make a lively drinking game--every time Holloway drinks, you drink!--if it wouldn't result in your death. The crew of breakdancing B-Boys are presented even more simply; each can be defined by exactly one character trait. (The short hothead, the taller hothead, the gay guy, the guy who doesn't like the gay guy ...)

It all seems simple, but there were still several ways director Benson Lee could have screwed this up:

Filming the...

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