When it comes to the dance movie genre, one of the best, most exciting themes to watch is dance battles. The high-energy and flashy moves, combined with the fierce competitive spirits of such scenes always make for an exhilarating viewing experience.
If you’re looking for the best dance battle movies to sate your thirst for some choreographed actions, then strap in! In today’s list, we’ll look at 10 modern and classic dance battle movies and show you exactly why they’re beloved titles in the genre.
Let’s get to it!
Table of Contents
- 10 Best Dance Battle Movies To Get You In The Mood
- Final Words
10 Best Dance Battle Movies To Get You In The Mood
1. Step Up 2: The Streets
2000s kids will definitely remember the original Step Ups movie on Disney Channel. While it wasn’t received very well among critics, it’s still one of the best high school dance battle movies and later set the groundwork for a successful movie franchise.
“Step Up 2: The Streets” was the successor to the first Step Ups movie. Released in 2008, though it basically shares the name with the first movie, “Step Up 2: The Streets” features a completely new set of characters.
In this movie, we follow the footsteps of Andie, played by Briana Evigan, as she struggles to adapt to her new school and aspires to become a street dancer.
Along with the school’s most attractive dancer, Chase (Robert Hoffman), Andie puts together a team of misfits to compete in an underground street dance competition known as “The Streets.”
While “Step Up 2” has received some criticism from reviewers for its generic plot, the cast’s charisma and the explosive hip-hop dance scenes in the film have been praised by both critics and audiences. And thanks to the first movie’s success, “Step Up 2” was a commercial success, bringing home $150,816,700 over a budget of just $17.5 million.
In fact, it’s even more successful than the first movie!
The success of “Step Up 2: The Streets” paved the way for more movies to be made in the Step Up series (which go up to four).
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2. You Got Served (2004)
If you were to judge a dance movie entirely on its dance numbers alone, then “You Got Served”, released in 2004, is definitely one of the greatest hip-hop dance battle movies out there.
But unfortunately, other than its explosive and spectacular hip-hop dance battles, the movie’s plot or cinematography wasn’t very well received.
The movie follows a group of street dancers led by two talented dancers, David and Elgin, played by Omarion Grandberry and Marques Houston, respectively, who regularly compete in breakdance battles in a Los Angeles warehouse owned by a club owner named Mr. Rad (Steve Harvey).
The conflict sparked when a rich kid named Wade challenges them to a dance battle, with the grand prize being $5,000.
Critics weren’t wrong about the “generic” plot of the film. If you’re a fan of dance movies, then you’ve probably seen a movie with this kind of plot before (a dance group trained hard to compete and prove themselves in an important competition).
Nonetheless, the movie still manages to captivate audiences with its brilliantly-executed hip-hop dance scenes, also the crip walk dance, which is the best highlight of the movie.
Despite receiving a fairly low score from critics, “You Got Served” was a financial success, bringing home $48.6 million on a budget of $8 million. The movie’s dance scenes were largely to thank for its success.
If you’re in the mood for street dance competition movies, “You Got Served” will definitely make your heart pumping (just don’t get your hopes up on the plot).
3. Save the Last Dance (2001)
While “You Got Served” doesn’t offer much in the way of plot, if that’s what you’re interested in, then “Save the Last Dance” can be a great watch!
Directed by Thomas Carter and released in 2001, “Save the Last Dance” is a romantic dance film that tells the story of Sara Johnson (Julia Stiles), a talented ballet dancer who moves to Chicago from a Midwestern town after her mother’s death in a car accident. There, she meets Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas), an African-American hip-hop dancer.
Derek helped her release her inhibitions and taught her the energy and freedom that hip-hop brings. Meanwhile, Sara helped him with his past and showed him a softer, more graceful style of dancing in ballet.
Other than being a great dance movie, “Save the Last Dance” also explores the rather sensitive themes of race, class, and cultural identity. Whether director Thomas Carter really managed to convey the message or not is up for debate, but the fact that he tried was commendable!
“Save the Last Dance” was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $131 million worldwide over a budget of $19 million.
Check more: 10 Best Ballet Movies
4. Step Up: All In (2014)
Step Up is a very long-running series with several installments. “Step Up: All In”, released in 2014, is the fifth and the last movie of the series.
“Step Up: All In” is a sequel to “Step Up: Revolution” (also known as Step Up 4: Miami Heat), so the cast remains the same.
The movie follows the character of Sean Asa (Ryan Guzman), a former Miami street dancer who moves to Los Angeles with his dance crew, “The Mob,” to pursue their combined dream of becoming professional dancers. Unfortunately, they were turned down at every audition they went to.
Sean and his dance crew “The Mob”, are struggling to make ends meet until they’re challenged to a dance battle by a different crew, the Grim Knights. And as Sean returned to Miami, he noticed and entered a dance competition called “The Vortex”, with the ultimate prize being a three-year booking in Las Vegas.
And just like every other Step Up movie before that, the grand plot conflict is the championship title of this competition.
Dance performances, executed with impressive energy, skill, and precision, are the highlight of this movie. The choreography in this one’s possibly one of the most impressive of all the Step Up movies.
Although reviews from critics are mixed (most of the praises were for the choreography and the downvotes for the plot and character development), for fans of the franchise and dance enthusiasts, the movie is still one of the best dance battle movies on Netflix to watch!
5. Step Up 3D (2010)
Even if you don’t have an old-fashioned 3D TV in your house (they’re pretty rare these days), “Step Up 3D” is still an excellent dance movie to watch.
“Step Up 3D” is the third installment in the Step Up franchise, released in 2010. The movie features a group of New York City street dancers known as “The Pirates,” who are led by Moose (Adam G. Sevani) and Luke (Rick Malambri).
The plot centers around the Pirates trying to raise money to save their dance studio from being shut down by a ruthless real estate developer. Along the way, the Pirates recruit a talented young dancer named Natalie (Sharni Vinson).
The stake? They must win a prestigious competition called the World Jam Championships for the grand prize of $100,000 in order to save their dance studio.
The best part about “Step Up 3D” is that it was shot in … well, 3D. If you’re able to watch the movie with a 3D TV or in a theater room, the 3D glasses will certainly add an extra layer of depth to the dance sequences, making them even more visually stunning.
“Step Up 3D” was well-received by audiences, who praised the movie’s energy, excitement, and impressive dance sequences (which were amplified two-fold by the 3D tech). In fact, with this momentum, “Step Up 3D” exceeded “Step Up 2: The Streets” to become the highest-grossing movie in the series!
6. StreetDance (2010)
For “StreetDance”, we’re going from Hollywood and across the pond to the UK!
Released in 2010, “StreetDance” is a British dance film that combines contemporary hip-hop and street dance with classical ballet.
The film follows a British street dance crew who lost their practice space after Jay (Ukweli Roach) left the group unexpectedly. Without leadership, the group was in disarray and lost the use of their rehearsal space, which they desperately needed for an upcoming street dance competition.
In a twist of fate, the crew is offered a rehearsal space at a prestigious ballet school, which leads to an unexpected collaboration between the street dancers and the ballet students. The film explores the cultural differences and artistic prejudices between the two groups as they come together to prepare for the big competition ahead.
The dance sequences in “StreetDance” are visually stunning, with a mix of hip-hop, street dance, and classical ballet. The movie also extensively uses 3D technology to lend the dance numbers an extra visual edge.
Most notably, the cast comprises some of the best dancers from the UK, including Diversity, a popular dance group that won Britain’s Got Talent in 2009.
Despite mixed reviews from critics, “StreetDance” was a commercial success, grossing over £11 million (around $13.2 million) worldwide. Its success led to the production of two more sequels, “StreetDance 2” and “StreetDance: The Moves”.
7. Breakin (1984) – Best classic American dance battle films
Joel Silberg’s 1984 “Breakin’” is a must-watch if you want to try out old classic American dance battle films.
Since it’s a fairly old and low-budget film, don’t expect high-end cinematography or a life-changing script. The film’s real focus is on the choreography: many of the exceptional breaking performances and moves during the various dance numbers of the movie were very impressive.
The story follows Kelly (Lucinda Dickey), a dancer and ballerina who stumbles upon a group of breakdancers battling in the streets. Intrigued by their style, Kelly discovers a newfound passion for the art of breaking and adopts a new name in the process: Special K.
While the plot is nothing new, the choreography more than makes up for many of its shortcomings. And even though we can’t say a lot of good things about the cinematography or the acting because “Breakin’” was made at the time when the hip-hop movement was at its height, the movie is an interesting look at what it was like when underground cultures were in their heyday.
The movie grossed $38 million at the domestic box over a meager budget of $1.2 million, making it a highly successful movie despite the lukewarm critical reviews.
8. Stomp the Yard (2007)
If you’re a fan of stepping (step-dancing), then there’s a good dance-off movie that you have to watch: “Stomp the Yard”, 2007.
Directed by Sylvain White, the movie centers on the world of step dancing, an African-American percussive dance. The main character is DJ Williams (Columbus Short), a troubled young man from Los Angeles who is sent to Atlanta’s Truth University after his younger brother is killed in a gang shooting.
At Truth University, DJ discovers the world of stepping, a dance style involving rhythmic stomping, clapping, and chanting. He joins a step team, Theta Nu Theta, and quickly stands out from the rest with his obvious talent.
DJ’s team goes head-to-head with a rival step team, Mu Gamma Xi, during a dance competition. The stakes are high, with both teams vying for the prestigious title of national step champions.
Its fantastic choreography and energetic performances make “Stomp the Yard” stand out. The dance scenes are very well choreographed, and the execution was well-done.
In addition to stepping, the movie also addresses some of the more important themes, such as brotherhood and loyalty, making it a more depthful watch.
All in all, despite not being at all favored by critics, who cited its lacking “soap opera-style subplots,” the movie is still a solid watch. “Stomp the Yard” is a commercial success, grossing $75.5 million over a budget of $13 million.
9. Strictly Ballroom (1992)
“Strictly Ballroom” is a delightful romantic comedy-drama film released in 1992. The film follows Scott Hastings, a gifted ballroom dancer who has been training since he was six.
However, Scott has a rebellious personality and wishes to strike out of the ballroom to establish his own style that isn’t just “strictly ballroom”. This leads him to get in trouble with the Australian Dancing Federation for not following conventions during a competition.
He joins forces with a novice dancer, Fran, to compete in the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix Dancing Championship using a new, innovative dance style.
Overall, as far as dance movies go, “Strictly Ballroom” is a good watch. The movie’s dance sequences are choreographed very well, and each number heightens the romantic story of Scott and Fran, adding to the film’s overall charm and appeal.
“Strictly Ballroom” was a commercial success and remained one of the most successful Australian movies of all time. The movie won many awards, from the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Picture to the BAFTA Film Award.
Most notably, a musical adaptation of the same name was premiered in 2014 in Sydney.
10. Planet B-Boy (2007)
Unlike the other movies on this list, “Planet B-Boy” is a documentary rather than a plot-driven movie. Still, that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to watch, especially if you love dance battles and breaking in general!
Released in 2007, “Planet B-Boy” is a documentary directed by Korean-American filmmaker Benson Lee. As the title suggests, the movie explores breakdancing, showcasing dancers from different parts of the world as they prepare to compete in the Battle of the Year, a major international breakdancing competition held in Germany.
What sets “Planet B-Boy” apart from other dance movies is its focus on the cultural significance of breakdancing. The film delves into the art form’s history, from its origins in the Bronx in the 1970s to its spread across the globe.
Through interviews with various breakdancers, the movie also highlights how breakdancing has been interpreted and adapted in different parts of the world.
As the movie’s timeline stretches closer to the Battle of the Year, the audience is introduced to many breaking teams from countries like Japan, South Korea, France, and the United States. All of them have unique styles and approaches to breakdancing.
The film captures the energy and excitement of the competition, showing how each team brings its own cultural influences and perspectives to its dance performances.
The movie’s visuals are impressive, and we have to give props to Lee and his team for masterfully capturing the dance sequences. All of the movements were caught at the perfect angles, which, combined with the electrifying soundtrack, made for a wonderful viewing experience.
New dance-theme titles come out every year, but these best dance battle movies are classics you should put on if you’re a fan of the genre.
Of course, everyone’s tastes are different, but we’re certain that a couple of names on the list will certainly give you a good time through stunning choreography and captivating performances!
Which is your favorite? Tell us in the comment section!