Review: King of the Dancehall


King of the Dancehall derive from the mind of Nick Canon who experienced Jamaican Dancehall culture while visiting the island on vacation.  The movie tells the story of a young Jamaican man who was recently released from prison who wants to financially support his mother who is terminally ill.

He decided to move to Jamaica where he could use the $5000 he had to buy marijuana and traffic it back to the United States through his drug connections.  While embarking on his journey of criminality he met a Jamaican church girl who introduced him to the lively Dancehall music scene.   He embraced the rigorous regiments of the choreographed moves and the nightlife to become one of the best to be known as the “King of the Dancehall”.

Jamaicans across the diaspora are always excited when we are introduced to cinematic representatioins of our culture.  When I heard about this movie, my expectations was high and I immediately visualized comparisons  between hits like Dancehall Queen, One Love, Ghett’a Life and Shottas.  Unfortunately, this movie is nothing like the movies I mentioned.  After about 20 minutes into the movie, it felt like an extended music video and a dramatized documentary story similar to historic dramatizations on the History Channel.

The plot was weak, and a huge disappointment because it felt like a b-movie that lacks authenticity that could have been used from a large selection of resource materials that seemed to be ignored.  If the movie was meant to be a documentary dramatization it should been made like one.  It would have been more entertaining and well received.  Fans of Jamaican movie culture will not embrace this movie, they will instead reject it for the underdeveloped storyline, and the glamorization of criminal elements and dancing sequences.

The producers should release a directors cut that would correct majority of the holes in the plot.   The movie is narrated by Nick Canon’s character and Beenie Man, who provides the historic foundation of the dancehall culture.  His hit single “King of the Dancehall” was not about a dancer, but about a Jamaican Deejay emerging to the top of the dancehall music scene.  This movie should have explored the collaborations between Deejays and dancers and how by working together to become icons in the industry.  This movie missed the mark and will not do as well as other Jamaican movies.

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