Battle Freestyle is the new sequel to the 2018 film Battle directed by Ingvild Søderlind, which was an adaption of the novel by Norwegian author Maja Lunde. Available on Netflix, the film runs for 1 hour and 28 minutes, making it a short watch. The main roles of Amalie and Mikael are reprised by the talented actors Lisa Teige and Fabian Svegaard Tapia respectively. There has been a pleasant addition of Ellen Dorrit Peterson, who plays the role of Amalie’s estranged mother.
The sequel picks up three years later from where Battle ended. Amalie is now a hip hop dancer along with Mikael and his crew Illicit. They get selected for a dance competition in Paris where Amalie’s mother also works in a dance studio. The film presents Amalie’s struggle between her desire to be with her mother and her love for hip hop.
– Battle Freestyle review does not contain spoilers –
Battle Freestyle starts with establishing the current lives of the crew, with them doing various day jobs and coming together to perform in the evenings. It’s one of the typical plot elements of dance films, where financially they are not doing well but are passionate about dancing. After they get selected, Amalie’s dad suggests she meet her mother, whom she hasn’t talked to in years, but Amalie refuses at first. Amalie has to quit her job to go to Paris, as her boss won’t give her leave, a fact she hides from Mikael.
When they reach Paris, there’s excitement and there are a few dance sequences, all pleasant to watch, but not phenomenal. As they start practising, Amalie excuses herself and goes to see her mother but becomes nervous and comes back. The next day Amalie again goes to see her, but her mother refuses to acknowledge Amalie as her daughter in front of her acquaintances. Her mother also offers Amalie an audition at a prestigious modern dance school in Paris.
Now Amalie, who only wants to get close to her mother, gladly accepts to go for the audition. All this she does without telling any of the crew except for Mikael, but she hides the audition bit with him. Till now Battle Freestyle mainly seems like a drama, not many dance sequences are there, except for a couple of scenes with the illicit crew practising in the background.
After Amalie accepts the audition offer, she takes Mikael to meet her mother. This is the main point of conflict in Battle Freestyle, although not as clearly fleshed out as in other dance films. The clear distinction between the economic background of Mikael and Amalie is shown here when Amalie’s mother asks Mikael if he has any professional training in hip hop. She then continues to make assumptions about his background, the neighbourhood he lives in and his immigrant status.
As Mikael learns about Amalie’s audition for the modern dance school, he asks her to make a choice, and she chooses to stay with her mother. When she goes for practice later, her crew kicks her out, rightly accusing her of neglecting the practice sessions. Amalie becomes angry with Mikael who does not support her as the group asks her to leave.
Unable to understand her mother’s elitism and wanting to be close to her, Amalie goes for the audition. Her mother, who had promised she would be there, does not show up, disheartening Amalie. Although Battle Freestyle does not have many dance sequences, this one is beautiful, as Amalie combines both modern and freestyle techniques. Actress Lisa Teige gives a performance worthy of mention here.
There is a major fight between Mikael and Amalie in a bar that she goes to. This is where Mikael comes to know that she left her job before coming to Paris. In a heated moment, he tells her, “I met a complete stranger when I met your mom…It wasn’t your mom, it was you.” After this, they completely stop talking and Amalie hangs out with this group of people from the bar. There are a couple of beautiful dance sequences here, very colourful and glamorous, befitting a Parisian bar.
After these events, Battle Freestyle finally shows the day of the dance competition, where the crew prepares to compete. During the same time, Amalie learns the result of her audition. Whether she gets accepted, whether Illicit wins the dance competition, or does Amalie leave the group forever. The audience already knows the answers to these questions, as they are the staple of all dance films.
There are a lot of details Battle Freestyle builds up just to present a mediocre and stale story. Amalie does not have enough conviction, the dance sequences are, at best, passable. The passion that Illicit keeps talking about only appears once during the dance competition. But the competition in itself does not take the centre stage.
More than a dance film, Battle Freestyle is a film about Amalie trying to find herself. The main conflict provided by her mother is not too, conflicting, as the film does not show the bond between the mother and daughter. The dialogues are
The characters are not fleshed out, except for the lead roles, everyone just fades into the background as soon as they leave the screen. There just seems a lack of dialogue between the main characters and the mother. At most Battle Freestyle might give the audience a good number of songs to listen to as we watch the few dance numbers on the screen. From the point of entertainment, there is not much to offer by the director. Watch Battle Freestyle if you have already seen the first film, or if you are a die-hard fan of dance films.
Battle: Freestyle is streaming on Netflix.Instagram & Facebook to keep yourself updated with the latest news and reviews.