King of the Dancehall

Nick CannonUSA / Jamaica105 minutes201514AColourEnglish

Nick Cannon directs and stars in this high-energy musical about a young man from Brooklyn who gets caught up in the vibrant Kingston music scene during a visit to Jamaica.

Hot days turn into even hotter nights in King of the Dancehall, the feature-film directorial debut of actor and consummate entertainer Nick Cannon.

When Tarzan (Cannon) hatches a ganjabased scheme to cover the costs of medical care for his sick mother (Whoopi Goldberg), he has to decamp from his native New York to Kingston, Jamaica. Once on the Caribbean island, he solicits the help of his fast-talking cousin (Busta Rhymes) and makes quick headway in the world of weed. But there's another, much tougher scene that he's not prepared for: the dancehall.

Lost amidst the bouncing bodies and grinding hips, Tarzan needs the help of Maya (Kimberly Patterson) to learn the right moves. But when another woman makes her move, Tarzan is faced with the romantic decision of his life, and a choice between two very different lifestyles.

With an infectious soundtrack featuring Beenie Man (who also narrates the tale), King of the Dancehall is an ode to the Jamaican musical force that's shaken dancefloors all around the world, and recently influenced artists like Roy Woods and Drake. Multi-hyphenate Cannon puts all his talents to use; he steps with ease once again into the role of the heartthrob, and he brings a striking athleticism to his performances in the vibrant dance scenes. These choreographed sequences are physical poetry: mesmerizingly complex and utterly alive with infectious energy.

Slick, fast-paced, and undeniably fun, Cannon's King of the Dancehall is as irresistible as the music that inspired it.

CAMERON BAILEY

Black + African DiasporaMusicRomanceCrimeFirst FeatureCaribbean