the moment I’ve been anticipating for so many years, Breakin’ 2:
Electric Boogaloo, one of my favorite films (if not THE favorite) is being
released on Blu-Ray in all it’s widescreen high-definition glory. Today, April
21, 2015, the fantastic Shout! Factory (responsible for the release of the Freaks
and Geeks box set and countless horror classics via their Scream Factory
imprint) releases both Breakin’ films as a double feature on what is
the 31st anniversary of both films. Strange to think kids today who may
see these now viewing them the same way I saw movies from the 1950s, as it
still feels like only yesterday my Dad was taking me to the theater to see Breakin’
2 when we lived in West Virginia. After that trip to the local cinema the
film stayed with me ever since, and really my love for it has only become
stronger. A lot of has to do with my love for music from the 80s which I
believe is one of the strongest decades for music (contrary to popular
opinion) – and the Electric Boogaloo soundtrack is no exception. What
always stuck with me the most about Breakin’ 2 (and yes, I view it in
much higher regard than the original film which was released only seven
months prior to the sequel, in the spring of 1984) was the complete joy that
radiates from every frame. The music, the dancing, the bright LA setting, the
Dayglo costumes, and even though the storyline has been done plenty of times
before and since, the positive message of good winning over greed. It’s just so
hard in my opinion to find even another musical that is filled with so much
optimistic energy and that is – more than anything else – completely sincere.
Of course there are plenty of films out there which are more technically
accomplished, and I would obviously have to say are “better” films. Really,
there’s no mistaking it. But I always find myself coming back to Breakin’ 2
when people ask me what my favorite film is. It may not be perfect in its
execution, but where its heart lies couldn’t be more clearer, which is a lot
more than can be said about movies both then and now.
was a true pleasure having the opportunity to interview – to celebrate the
Blu-Ray release – one of the stars, Adolfo ‘Shabba-Doo’ Quiñones (who portrays
Ozone in both films) and the film’s director, Sam Firstenberg. Both
couldn’t have been nicer, and even kinder to take time out of their busy
schedules to take part.
end credits of Breakin’ mentioned a sequel called Electric Boogaloo
was in the works. Was a sequel always part of the plan or was that included in
case the first was a hit and a sequel was then financially warranted by Cannon?
was never aware of that fact but I am not surprised. From the beginning Cannon
was a company of sequels, Death Wish 2, 3, & 4 with Charles Bronson
is just one example. I presume that you are right and the plan was that if Breakin’
would be successful they would produce a sequel.
Quiñones: A sequel wasn’t in
the works, during production of Breakin’ it was planned due to the
enormous success of the film. I was not contracted for the sequel. After tough
negotiations we entered into an agreement to star in the second film.
how did you become involved as director? Was it your history with Cannon Films,
or a specific vision you had for the sequel?
SF: The director
of Breakin’ was
Joel Silbert and as far as I know he was supposed to direct the sequel. I don’t
know why he did not, and I never asked, but at some point after the release of
the movie Ninja III: The Domination that I directed with the same
actress of Breakin’, Lucinda Dickey (Kelly), I was asked by the head of
Cannon Films, Menahem Golan, to take over the directing of Breakin’ 2:
Electric Boogaloo. At that point I did not have any vision for the movie,
it was developed later.
Michael ‘Boogaloo Shrimp’ Chambers, Lucinda Dickey, Adolfo ‘Shabba-Doo’
history at that point as a director was mostly ninja films (‘Return of the
Ninja’, ‘Ninja III: The Domination’). Was the transition to a musical
challenging or did that background actually help in some way?
SF: As a matter
of fact my background as
an action director helped a lot when it came to directing a dance movie. By
that point I had gained vast knowledge and experience in directing and creating
sophisticated action sequences such as fights and chase scenes. When it came to
directing dance sequences I discovered that there is no big difference between
the two. It is all about deconstructing the certain piece of action or dance to
its elements on the set, in a way that later, in the editing room using the cinematic
language, it could be reconstructed in the most effective way, to enhance it to
the delight of the potential audience.
Golan had his own history with musicals, having directed 1980’s The Apple
for example. He seemed to have an affinity for the genre. How was it working
with him, his partner Yoram Globus, and the notorious Cannon team?
AQ: I personally found
working with Menahem and Yoram to be both tough and rewarding.
Initially I was tapped to choreograph the film before being cast as Ozone.
SF: This is true, in addition to The Apple, Menahem Golan also
directed the musical Kazablan and he did love that genre of films. As a
result it was actually very creative and fruitful working with him on that
movie. I remember that every weekend we met in his house to discuss the script
and potential additions and changes to it. He was engaged in watching the
dailies every night and always had suggestions for improvements and additional
dance numbers. Yoram Globus was not involved in the creative side of making the
movies. During production the entire Cannon team was very supportive. As an
in-house director, since I was also part of that team, everyone there was also
On the set of Breakin’
2 with Adolfo
Quiñones, Lucinda Dickey, director Sam Firstenberg
film’s plot has been criticized for being standard background filler, but it’s
actually said to be based on a real life story. If true, what is that story?
SF: If the plot
of Electric Boogaloo
is based on a true life story then I am not aware of it and don’t know much
about it. But it is really a familiar story anyway, the story of the small guy
taking on the powerful authorities for a cause that will benefit the community.
Many classical films have tackled that subject so many times, so yes it is
standard story but one that people love to be told again and again.
AQ: Actually, my
character Ozone and my
side kick Turbo were both patterned after our real life personas. I must add, Breakin’
was based on a project I managed to get produced and financed by Topper
Carew for Rainbow Productions, Breakin’ and Entering, a documentary
based on the west coast street-dance scene in Los Angeles. I eventually
headlined and served as the choreographer and talent coordinator for the
look of the film is very bright and optimistic with its neon and Dayglo pastel
colors, a bit of a contrast from the first film. What was the thinking in that?
Was it simply a result of street fashion at the time or was it a feeling you
wanted to get across?
Well, a little of
both to be honest. I personally felt they were going in the wrong direction. I
was told they wanted to bring a brightness and a sense of fun and optimism to
The “look” of the film is a result of the talks I conducted with the production
designer during the pre-production period. Yes it was the fashion of the time
among the hip-hop crowd but it was also our intention to exaggerate it to a
point of saturation to create excitement, youthfulness and hope.