King of the Dancehall [2016]

In British cinemas I often have the experience of sitting in comedies and being the only one laughing. I had just about the opposite experience with this debut feature set in the Underground Dancehall scene in recent Jamaica. I probably laughed the requisite times for this to count as a comedy under Dr Kermode’s rules, but for me it worked much better as a slightly off-beat, one might say quirky, drama. Actually, it reminded me a lot of Stickmen, my favourite NZ film.

The story is of Tarzan, a Brooklyn minnow hood who comes to Jamaica to set-up a drug pipeline back home to fund the healthcare of his sick mother. Which is about the last you really here of the drug trade or the mechanics as the film pivots to focus on the burgeoning romance between Tarzan and Maya via the medium of the dancehall scene.

The film is energetic, exuberant even. The soundtrack is awesome, and the included dance numbers are spectacular. The story rollicks along at a good pace, and even if it is a tad shop-worn, the setting into which it is placed gives it a real vitality. The Toronto crowd absolutely loved this film, and I think if it gets the right kind of release it could be a “surprise” smash hit one summer.

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One Response to King of the Dancehall [2016]

  1. drewkiercey says:

    Why are majority of Jamaican films about some foreigner who returns home to push drugs in the Dancehall scene tho? I cant tell you how many times I’ve seen some version of that story BUT I do like that this one is a comedy so that’s a good change.

    –D.K.W.

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