Dancehall Queen (1997)
Cast: Audrey Reid, Paul Campbell, Carl Bradshaw, Beenie Man
Director: Don Letts & Rick Elgood
Nutshell: Rags to riches fairytale set in the phantasmagorical world of Jamaican dancehall featuring some fab tunes and eye popping dancing.
From life on the gritty streets of Kingston, Jamaica comes this fairy tale of a push cart girl making it as the islands illustrious Dancehall Queen and winning herself some respect and a better life. It’s a total gas from beginning to end with delightfully poor acting and in your face direction.
The soundtrack features some sizzling dancehall hits and the dancing scenes themselves are no less than astounding for those who are not accustomed to the antics within a typical Kingston town dancehall. Its wonderfully low budget and almost like an amateur production. One of the joys, other than the acting and the setting is the mind boggling Jamaican patois accent which is virtually unintelligible to anyone unfamiliar with the lingo. It will probably come as a big relief to viewers that English subtitles are available, though it’s a lot more fun watching without.
The film sheds light on the type of broken down family system that is so prevalent in the Caribbean where the woman usually ends up supporting her kids without much help from the father. It’s a sight to behold and a marvellously refreshing experience after watching mainstream Hollywood films 90% of the time. Dancehall Queen comes as a breath of delightful fresh air, right from the reggae tinged streets of Kingston with Marley on the box on the street corner and life just ire.
The story follows the virtually destitute existence of Marcia the street vendor who works endlessly to get by. One day she see’s the current dancehall queen getting out of a flashy sports car looking like crap so she decides that she could also take a shot at becoming a dancehall queen and thus earning a nice pretty packet along the way and a serious amount of respect.
So we follow Marcia as she creates an alias who becomes known as the mystery lady. The mystery lady is the new girl in town who soon learns the ropes and has men drooling at her tantalizing dancehall moves. Meanwhile she has to walk a fine line and perform a balancing act between two murderous villains she has become entangled with. It all builds to a glorious showdown at the finals of the Dancehall Queen competition where the superstar Beenie Man is host of the show all of Jamaica is proud of. Its brilliant fun all the way and worth several repeat viewing.
Please be warned not to practice any of those dancehall moves as seen in the movie… they have got to be seriously hazardous for the health. Great fun, hysterical dancehall scenes, fabulous music, terrific villain, brilliant setting… what more could one ask for from a single movie. We are now seriously lusting for more Jamaican movies and Rockers has merely compounded the problem with its even greater brilliance. General Degree’s I Go Hold You Tonight is a seriously hot rollicking number…ouch!