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Rize is American photographer David LaChappelle’s first feature project having evolved out of 'Krumped’, a short film project from several years ago. More well known as a photographer for the rich n’ famous (and as a music video maker for A-list pop stars J.Lo, Britney Spears and the Moby), he now turns a hand to feature-length documentary with Rize.Born in the streets of South Central and East LA, and out of the hip-hop music movement, 'krumping’ is the subject of LaChappelle’s film. Described as the antithesis of 'bling bling hip-hop’ that clogs music video channels, krumping is an athletic, aggressive, hugely energetic form of dancing that combines clowning and African tribalism with dance and hardcore hip hop. Its participants regard it as a means for the disempowered, disenfranchised black urban population to reclaim not only their cultural heritage and identity, but also their lives from poverty and boredom.LaChapelle gets firmly inside the movement, filming and interviewing the major players, from the kids entertainer who started it all ('Tommy The Clown’), to the players involved in evolving it to the 'battle zone’ competions. (Think rap battles only with improvised dances being the battle instead of improvised words). Culminating in a huge competition between rival dance 'gangs’ the Clowns and the Krumpers, there is also plenty of personal testimony in between these heightened scenes about the art form’s history and what it means to the community on a more serious social level. For the most part Rize is excellent, combining elevated dance sequences with the serious and at times the truly bizarre and hilarious. The video clip style LaChapelle uses to communicate the sheer power of this dance style is actually the perfect way to tell this story (often montage is the lazy way to tell story). It is just about impossible to not to be affected by the dancing at the very least, such is its power. While there are some truly inspired sequences - especially when dance sequences from now are intercut with archival African footage - the inclusion of some of the more serious social comment scenes take Rize out of its stratosphere. A little more 'Oprah’ in tone than perhaps necessary. (Only some of these scenes are flawed, not all).Otherwise Rize is one of the better dance-umentaries around, rivalling its East Coast cousin Mad Hot Ballroom, a similarly-themed doc in current release also.Rize has risen.

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M
1 hour 26 min

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