- Jun 24, 2003
- Reaction score
- Real Name
- Michael Osadciw
YOU GOT SERVED
Studio: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment
Film Year: 2004
U.S. Rating: PG-13
Canadian Rating: PG
Rated for: Thematic Elements and Sexual References
Film Length: 95 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (anamorphic)
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, French 2.0 Surround
Subtitles: English, French
Closed Captioned: Yes
Release Date: May 18, 2004
Starring: Omari Grandberry (David), Marques Houston (Elgin), Jennifer Freeman (Liyah), Jarell Houston (Rico), Steve Harvey (Mr. Rad)
Also starring: Meagan Good, Esther Scott, Robert Hoffman, Christopher Jones, Lil’ Kim
Directed By: Chris Stokes
Writer: Chris Stokes
Forced Trailers: Hellboy, 13 Going on 30, Breakin’ All The Rules
If You Want Respect, You’ve Got To Take It
In many parts of the USA there are kids who spend a lot of time on the streets during their youth. While hanging out with their buddies, some play B-ball and stay out of trouble while others get mixed up with the wrong crowd. Many of these kids in the latter crowd make bad decisions. Their youth doesn’t always allow them to have the best judgement and some kids get suckered into doing illegal activities for older people such as making drug-runs for a little money. Others find comradeship and acceptance joining gangs, many whom resort to violence on the streets. These young kids have frequent run-ins with the law that tarnish their records as well as personality making them more vile and violent as they grow into adulthood. Sometimes their ties with gangs could be a sentence of death if one weren’t quick enough. It’s a mean game out there, and it’s not the game that everyone deserves to play.
In the streets of California, Mr. Rad has a better game for these kids. His warehouse hosts street gang face-offs in secret hip-hop dance competitions popular in black youth culture. With the music cranked and a large crowd of young people cheering the competitions, these dancing teens can feel proud for themselves if the crowd believes them to be the best. The other bonus for them is winning money for being the champion. Mr. Rad believes this is the best thing to keep kids off the streets and away from danger as well as a positive way to channel anger and competition between gangs without resorting to violence. No matter what the outcome of the competition, there will be no fighting and the looser will walk away to make them better for the next time.
The dance style is secret to each gang, each containing from about five to nine people. They practice this strategic dance that is both impressive and reflecting of the group’s personality. Aside from seeing characteristics of being bragging or humorous, the dance styles also vary, at least in this film, where we see a mix of jazz, hip-hop, pop, and ballet. Their dance moves take a while to practice, but those with the best coordination and the most impressive moves win the crowd. Some see themselves as so perfect they don’t require practice at all - they just do it.
The story of You Got Served revolves around the relationship between two best friends who are in the same gang and who compete with each other in competitions. David is quick on his feet and a little bit of a bragger when it comes to the dancing. He knows as well as everyone else that he’s the best. Elgin is his best friend, and the two of them seem to lead their gang to winning the competitions without anyone beating them. That soon changes after a challenge by some rich white boys from Orange County north of them. They challenge David and Elgin’s group to lay down five thousand dollars. Whoever wins the competition wins the money. Thinking it’s an easy win, they are met with a surprise at the minute of the competition. Dave and El’s gang is betrayed by one of their members. The white boys dance all of their moves before they can and the crowd cheers on for them. Five grand is lost to them, and yo they got served, man. Admittedly I’m not down with California subculture dialogue, so I’m presuming “Got Served” is another way of saying “got screwed”, or referring to some sort of betrayal or disadvantage.
Feeling vulnerable as ever, David’s gang must recuperate from the loss and recover the money that was lost. There is more at loss here than money as Elgin gets into trouble doing a run for a gangster named Emerald in David’s absence. El is infuriated with David for not being at his aid and for being on a date with his sister instead. While David was clearly not at fault, El holds a grudge at him throughout most of the film. Time is ticking for El as well since he has another loss to recover for the gangster and he’s got very little time. Luckily a dance competition on MTV’s The Big Bounce gives them a chance to win $50 000 as well as to be in Lil’ Kim’s new music video. The problem is that David is no longer in the group because El has expelled him, and David is the best. Once again, the gang will find themselves facing the same white boys as well as other excellent challengers. To competition is high and so is the adrenaline among the dancers to win the prize for all of the practice they’ve done. Money is good, but friendships are still divided and decisions must be made for the best outcome for everyone.
The film has excellent choreography. I’m no expert, but I’ve seen enough films and acts that have poor choreography in comparison to what I’ve seen in this film. The timing of most of the dancers is almost dead on perfect. Most moves are done flawlessly with very little instability among dancers. Truly those involved with this dance has a passion for it and have been practicing a long time. Many of the moves are very impressive and its not just a bunch of bouncing around as some may expect. The creative use of movement contrasting frozen poses works well and is very entertaining. Many of the dance sequences are lengthy but never boring and done to the rhythms of hip-hop and rap.
The story on the other hand is pretty simple. There’s a talented kid who likes his best friend’s sister. The two friends get into a fight and little sister gets in between them. There are the antagonists and the protagonists and they have to dual it out until there is a winner. It’s simple, sweet, and not too complicated. Since this film targets MTV teens, this simple story is all they need. While there could have been a much darker side to this film exposed, I think it was wise to keep the script as a positive influence to viewers who like this movie. An R rated script would have lessened the film’s audience and appeal as well. I’m surprised this film is rated PG-13. There is very little offensive material in it, the worst being ‘flipping the bird’ on a dozen occasions.
The film has a soft and hazy appearance throughout. Despite being mastered in high definition, the image quality is out of focus. I felt like my eyes just couldn’t stay comfortable watching this film on a bigger screen where these flaws are more noticeable. From the moment the film opens to the final dance sequence at the end, you will want to see more detail. The interiors of the warehouse are dim making details in the distance undefined and more like spots on the screen. Colours take on a muted look offering little saturation. Browns seem to be dominant over most other colours possibly because of the warmer look of the film. The black level, while good at showing shadow detail, is a little higher than usual. It lacks a deep quality making contrast lack punch. Edge enhancement is non-existent, but the most unfortunate quality of this disc is its abundance of compression artefacts. MPEG noise is always around smaller objects as well as larger compression blocks. All motion of and around dancers is broken up. The result is a lack of real picture detail and its very distracting. The image is anamorphically enhanced and seems to be framed at 1.82:1.
The audio is encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround but sounds more like a 2.0 surround presentation. Most of the soundstage is upfront and there are very little directional effects in the surrounds. The surrounds do help make the front soundstage wider at times when the crowd is cheering during the dance-offs. The film opens with crowd noise cheering for the first competition. It sounds very separate from the visuals because the noise of the crowd sounds like a stadium filled with 20 000 people cheering rather than the few hundred that are actually in the warehouse. This is very annoying and consistent during each face off. It takes away from any sort of believability while watching the film. Unfortunately the crowd noises sound abnormally muted in the high frequencies too. It felt like I was wearing earmuffs during all of these scenes. ADR is noticeable in many scenes because of its forwardness as well as having a lack of spatial integration. A stand out of this soundtrack is its music. The opening scene cranks bass and there is a lot of rap and hip hop dominating most of the soundtrack. Bass is always punctuating even in the main channels and will challenge smaller subwoofers. I also found the soundtrack to be slightly louder than normal at my reference level.
There are two commentaries on this disc. Interestingly enough, one of them is an Audio/Video Dance Commentary with nine participants including director, choreographers, and actors. This feature is rather neat because what you see on screen is these nine people talking it up as they watch the dance sequences on a video screen. You also get to see the film in the bottom left corner of your screen so you know what they are referring to. When the dance sequences end, your screen goes back to the film and you can continue to listen to the audio commentary only until the next dance sequence flips back to the video on them. This feature is also 1.78:1 and widescreen enhanced.
The second commentary is an audio-only director and cast commentary with four participants. Like most other commentaries, they talk about what’s going on in the film and what they were doing at that moment in time. There is a lot of laughing and lots of fun for them. You may enjoy it.
Next is a twenty-six minute feature called Serve It Up! (16:9, DD2.0). This feature talks about the secret dances, about the film, and has interviews with the cast and choreographers. It’s a well-done feature, but I wish they had shown a little more ‘behind the scenes’ rather than clips of the film dispersed throughout.
Flipping to the next page of features, dance breakdowns is our next little feature. This is neat – provided here are five different cameral angles capturing the first dance sequence in the film. You can watch all five each on their own or switch between them using the angle button. You can ever put together your own sequences. This is raw audio and video footage presented in open matte and showing SMPTE time code. There is also an optional audio introduction about this feature by Producer Billy Pollina.
Battle of the Beat follows this feature, and at almost four and a half minutes it’s a collection of dance moves in the film presented in one sequence. It’s 16:9 enhanced and in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo.
Lastly, there is the ”Badaboom” by B2K featuring “Fabulous” Music Video (4:3, DD2.0). Badaboom, badaboom…
Seven trailers including that of You Got Served is included. There are no DVD-ROM features nor does the paper insert have chapter listings…just advertisements.
In the underground of secret dance, You Got Served depicts the lives of California kids who participate in such challenges. It’s and fun and entertaining and the choreography is impressive. I can’t say the same thing for the presentation quality of the film, but fans should find this release acceptable.