The ‘80s were a curious time, well-known for a number of things. One of them ended up being a massive surge of break-dancing and breakdance movies.
Since then, they never really stopped coming out, so today, we have a fine collection of such films, just waiting for break-dancing fans to watch them.
They have everything you need for a fun and exciting movie, including comedy, drama, hip-hop music, and more. Plus, the characters themselves spice the movie with their boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, father-daughter relationship, and, just in general, male-female relationship.
A few break-dance movies even go for something outside of the norm, such as adding martial arts mastery, double agents, kung fu, secret agents investigating the murder of a fellow agent, the cold war, and more, depending on what movie we are talking about.
For the most part, the ‘80s dance movies focused on romance, organizing a dance group, and winning that one important dance contest that always comes up.
So, if you are interested in seeing some of the best films from this category, here are 15 that are my personal favorites.
The last one might surprised you, but let me know in the comments when you get there… and no peeking!
Beat Street (1984)
The first on our list of top break-dancing movies to watch is Beat Street. It follows an aspiring DJ Kenny Kirkland, as well as his B-boy brother, Lee, and Ramon, a local graffiti artist. All three wish to showcase their talents and escape being stuck in South Bronx for life.
Kirkland wishes to prove himself as a DJ, and his younger brother wishes to rule the street by showing his street dancing moves.
Beat Street kicks off with the opportunity to do just that when a well-known composer and hip-hop choreographer, Tracy Carlson, runs into Kirkland and Lee.
Tracy offers them an opportunity to perform on TV, and they see it as a chance to expose people to hip-hop, and entering show business. But, it is not that simple, as they are far from ready for something like that.
Beat Street is a fun break-dance movie, which shows that getting the right opportunity is not always enough, and that achieving your dreams also requires effort.
The film stars Rae Dawn Chong, Guy Davis, John Chardiet, Mary Alice, Kadeem Hardison, and others.
Speaking of hip-hop choreography, this is Honey Daniels’ dream job, and she strongly desires to make a name for herself.
When she is not busy hitting downtown clubs, she teaches dance classes in the nearby community center, which also has another purpose, to keep kids off the streets. After she meets a hotshot director, she is convinced that she struck gold, especially after he offers to cast her in music videos.
However, the young dancer learns how unfair the world can be after he starts demanding sexual favors from her. Still, Honey’s dream is to dance, so any decision she thinks of seems like a bad call.
Still, she must choose, and that choice will either make or break her dancing career.
This movie is not from the ‘80s, but it is still one of the best break-dance movies out there and a cult film in the break-dance community.
The film stars Jessica Alba, Mekhi Phifer, Romeo Miller, Zachary Isaiah Williams, Joy Byant, and others.
Step Up Revolution (2012)
Moving on, we have one of the romance dance movies, Step Up Revolution. This is a film about Sean, the leader of a dance crew, and Emily, a young dancer who seeks to enter the school of her dreams.
Their problems start when they learn of a rich businessman’s intention to create a series of stores, and in doing so, displace thousands of people. The two decide that this cannot be allowed, so they team up to turn their performance into a protest art.
It is not often that a break dancer helps save lives with their performance, but this time, there is more on the line than winning a talent show, and the protagonists’ dance moves need to be good enough to make a point.
If you wish to know whether or not they will succeed, I strongly recommend watching the film.
The film stars Ryan Guzman, Misha Gabriel Hamilton, Kathryn McCormick, Adam Gary, Stephen Boss, and others.
Flashdance emerged in the early stages of the breakdancing movie fever, and some still view it as slightly controversial to date. It is about an exotic dancer, Alex, who has her day job in a still mill, while at night, she dances in a local bar.
However, she has greater dreams of getting into a prestigious ballet school. After her boss, Nick, learns of this, he ends up being extremely supportive, in addition to developing quite an interest in Alex. However, his support is what pushes her to apply for the dance conservatory, despite being scared of failure.
The film has moderate female nudity, which is something that parents should keep in mind before they turn on Amazon Prime Video and play the film before their kids. According to The Guardian, the movie “became a symbol of female empowerment and social mobility.”
The film stars Jennifer Beals, Michael Nouri, Cynthia Rhodes, Sunny Johnson, and others.
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Then, we have Dirty Dancing, one of the classics among music and dancing movies. The film won the hearts of dancing fans around the world, to the point where many still swear by it today.
Apart from the fantastic performance by Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, it was the first movie to sell over one million DVDs. Of course, today, you would not buy a DVD to watch it, you can just look it up on Amazon Prime Video.
The film follows Baby, who hopes to enjoy her youth while it lasts, as it is only one listless summer away from the Peace Corps.
Unfortunately, her summer plans fail, and she ends up stuck with her parents. However, as luck would have it, she also meets a dance instructor, Johnny, who enlists her as his new partner, and the two quickly fall in love.
Unfortunately, Baby’s parents still stand in their way, but she won’t let that stop her from helping Johnny perform one last big dance of the summer.
The film stars Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Cynthia Rhodes, Kelly Bishop, Jane Bucker, and others.
You Got Served (2004)
Another great film that you will find on Prime Video is You Got Served.
It is a movie about dance crews that battle each other for money and respect, showing the hottest breakdancing moves. However, when two best friends, Elgin and David, who are also leaders of the best breakdance crew, get challenged by another crew, they have to come up with something new to remain on top.
The film also takes a different turn when friends start crossing each other, which never leads to good things, especially when one best friend crosses another.
However, if you want to see how these young people cope with the situation they found themselves in, and how the contest will be resolved, I recommend watching this movie for yourself.
The film stars Marques Houston, Omarion, Jennifer Freeman, Raz-B, Meagan Good, and others.
Can’t Stop The Music (1980)
Next, we Can’t Stop The Music, a film about Samantha Simpson, a young fashion model who wants to help her roommate and friend, Jack, to get a record deal and finally get into show business.
While Jack’s demo is far from perfect, Samantha believes that there is still hope, and she comes up with the idea of finding a proper group in New York, that will sing the songs. They soon run into a group made up of unlikely participants, a cowboy, a police officer, a construction worker, a soldier, a Native American, and a biker.
While the group seems to be working well together, against all odds, they still run into complications when it comes to advertising and their image.
The film stars Steve Guttenberg, Caitlyn Jenner, David Hodo, Valerie Perrine, Felipe Rose, Randy Jones, Alex Briley, Paul Sand, and others.
It is worth remembering that ‘80s were also when hip-hop music blew up, and was often combined with breakdancing movies.
This is what led to films like Rappin’, where an ex-convict, John Hood, from Pittsburgh, decides to get involved in the local rap contest and show others in his ghetto how to use rap and hip-hop music to drive out the riffraff.
The riffraff in question actually includes developers and hoodlums. One of the latter also has a girlfriend, Dixie, who gets romantically involved with John after convincing him to audition for a rap recording contract.
The film is fairly interesting and fun to watch, and it has its fair share of top-notch music, funny situations, and a satisfying end. I definitely recommend giving it a chance.
The film stars Ice-T, Mario Van Peebles, Eriq La Salle, Melvin Plowden, and others.
Delivery Boys (1985)
Delivery Boys is another great choice if you like breakdancing movies and good music. It follows a gang of boys under the Brooklyn Bridge, which is united by their interest in break dancing.
When the time comes to choose the name for their crew, they decide to call themselves Delivery Boys, since some of them work as pizza delivery boys.
The next step is to make a name for themselves, and they come to the conclusion that the best way to do so is to enter the local break dance contest.
However, it seems like the universe itself is against them, as they keep getting detained on the night of the contest by the likes of sculptors, hookers, and even ex-Nazis.
The film stars Jim Soriero, Tom Sierchio, Joss Marcano, Nelson Vasquez, and others.
Kickin’ It Old Skool (2007)
Kickin’ It Old Skool is a film that revolves around a 12-year-old breakdancer, Justin Schumacher, who accidentally suffers a head injury while performing in a talent show.
He wakes up 20 years later, discovering that he is now a grown man. However, he still has the mind and experiences of his old life, and nothing else.
Upon leaving the hospital, he discovers that his parents’ yogurt shop is failing, and that his dance team never reached its full potential after his accident. So, he decides to get the team back together and hopefully, find a way to help his parents in the process.
I liked the movie as it puts the main character in a rather interesting position, where a 12-year-old is now a grown person who has to find his way in a world where, even those who lived their lives and reached maturity through various experiences, struggle to cope with everyday challenges.
The film stars Jamie Kennedy, Miguel A. Nunez Jr., Michael Rosenbaum, Maria Menounos, and others.
Breakin’ is a breakdancing movie through and through, even though it might not seem like one at the very beginning. It follows Kelly, a classically trained jazz dancer, who is hungry for a new outlet, and at the same time, tired of her amorous teacher.
As luck would have it, she runs into two street dancers, Ozone and Turbo. However, after seeing their moves, she is blown away, and decides to join them in an attempt to beat a rival group of street dancers.
As a jazz dancer, however, she has a long way to go, and a lot of learning to do. But, it will have to be done on the fly, as time is running short.
Breakin’ is a great movie, with good music, it leads the main characters to a major change in her life, and it shows that big changes do not have to be bad.
The film stars Lucinda Dickey, Adolfo Quinones, Michael Chambers, Ben Lokey, Christopher McDonald, and others.
After leaving Chicago, the young man, Ren McCormack moves into a small town only to get shocked when he discovers that rock music and dancing are illegal there.
As both play a huge role in his life, the young man searches for a way to fit in, only to find himself in a battle to change things with a help of another teenage boy, Willard Hewitt, and a defiant teen, Ariel Moore.
The town is heavily conservative, and the trio finds themselves before quite a task, as they need to help it loosen up. The problem is that Ariel’s own father, influential Reverend Shaw Moore, stands in their way.
The film Footloose stars Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, Chris Penn, Sarah Jessica Parker, and others.
Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo (1984)
Moving on, we have Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, a sequel to the first Breakin’, but one that came out in the same year as the original. We return to the life of Kelly and her friends, who are desperate to stop the demolition of a community recreation center.
They decide that the best way to perform their community service is to team up for a break-dancing benefit show.
In all honesty, the film has some excellent moves, hip-hop, and generally, a good enough idea and story to enjoy it. Roger Ebert called Breakin’ 2 a “movie that wants nothing more than to allow some high-spirited kids to sing and dance their way through a silly plot just long enough to make us grin.”
Best of all, you can watch it on YouTube, where it is free to watch around the world.
The film stars Shabba Doo, Lucinda Dickey, Michael Chambers, Ice-T, Susie Coelho, and others.
Wild Style (1982)
Nearing the end of the list, we have Wild Style, a movie that is a cultural revolution of rapping, hip-hop, break-dancing, graffiti, and more. This is one of the oldest movies from the ‘80s, and, as some would say, the one that started the genre of breakdancing and music movies.
Wild Style is about a young graffiti artist, Zoro, who is conflicted about using his talents in a way that will have him launch a proper career.
The film offers the best of the decade, including early hip-hop, rival crews, funky and electric energy, and more.
The only question is, will Zoro accept the job and paint a backdrop for a rap and break-dance concert, or will he insist on staying wild?
The film stars Lee Quinones, Fab 5 Freddy, Patti Astor, Lisa Lee, Tony Tone, and others.
Stomp The Yard (2007)
Finally, the last on our list is Stomp The Yard. It is about a 19-year-old street dancer from Los Angeles, who is troubled by the death of his younger brother. To avoid juvenile hall, he enrolls in Truth University in Atlanta, Georgia.
While he seeks nothing but an education and a girl that he met and fell in love with, his personal interests get sidelined.
The reason for it is the fact that the top two fraternities on the campus start convincing him to join, as they both need new blood with some original, hot moves in order to win the national step show competition.
The film stars Columbus Short, Meagan Good, Chris Brown, Brian J. White, Laz Alonso, Darrin Henson, and others.
Did you agree with my list or have I missed off something you love? Let me know either way in the comments as I would love to hear.