Well, duh. One of the dancers in Rize says to the camera, "This is not a trend." Not to him, perhaps. But just wait till the executives at MTV and the suits at major advertising agencies get a look at the movie. You can bet your buns it'll become a trend.
Fashion photographer David LaChapelle, expanding on his award-winning short film "Krumped," introduces us to the new dance forms popular in South Central Los Angeles via the charismatic "ghetto celebrity" known as Tommy the Clown. A former drug dealer who now hosts children's birthday parties, Tommy is credited here with creating the dance style known as "clowning," which combines slapstick with hip-hop moves.
Spinning off from the clowns are the devotees of "krump," a more aggressive, warlike dance originated by guys with names like Dragon and Tight Eyez, who say they came up with the form for the benefit of kids who didn't want to play sports after school and had nothing else to occupy their time (legally) in the 'hood. A notable byproduct of krumping appears to be the taking on of a younger protégé. Tight Eyez, for instance, though barely into adulthood himself, has an even younger disciple under his wing named Baby Tight Eyez. Krump is not just a dance but a lifestyle, one so hip that anyone who goes a day without doing it is behind the times and uncool. So they tell us, anyway. And this is not a trend?
Tommy the Clown sees krump as sloppy and chaotic compared with clowning. The stage is set for a showdown of styles, and the film builds to a head at BattleZone V, a dance-off that pits the krumpers against the clowns. LaChapelle makes the obvious comparisons to African tribal dance but barely acknowledges the more obvious heritage of both rock-concert mosh pits and professional wrestling. No one who watched the Ultimate Warrior in the '80s will fail to see his influence on the krumpers. For that matter, Detroit's infamous white rappers Insane Clown Posse have been combining clowning, pro wrestling, hip-hop and heavy metal for years. One can certainly make a good case that these guys are more skillful than ICP, but when the movie almost jokingly interviews a doofus white guy claiming to be the first Caucasian krumper, you get the feeling LaChapelle either missed something or simply didn't want to see any influences from "white" pop culture.
But damn it, Jim, LaChapelle's a photographer, not a storyteller. Which is why, even at 84 minutes, the movie doesn't feel short -- musical montages replace narrative in way too many spots. But if you'd prefer, you can always call up Tommy the Clown and have him tell you more; his phone number is prominently displayed onscreen.