Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Rize Movie Poster Image
Vibrant, in-your-face chronicle of urban dance.
  • PG-13
  • 2005
  • 84 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

These kids work hard.


Dances are aggressive, but they are dances.


Some dances feature sexualized moves, some language is allusive.


Street talk.


T-shirts with logos.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this documentary shows the development of a dance form called krump, or krumping, which consists of fast gyrations and extremely athletic movements. These include the "stripper dance" (thrusting and butt-shaking), and other highly imaginative, aggressive, and stylized moves. The dancers discuss their onerous backgrounds (absent parents, violent neighborhoods, ongoing poverty, drug dealing, deficient schools), and use some street language.

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Adult Written bySonia Montejano April 9, 2008

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What's the story?

Vibrant, insistent, and in your face, this documentary charts the development of a dance form called krumping. As revealed in David LaChapelle's RIZE, krump is just stunning to see, all spastic-seeming gyrations, athletic and creative brilliance, and startling velocity (a note at the start of testifies that no footage has been "speeded up"). The film cuts together sensational dance imagery (low angles, close-ups, mobile frames that can barely keep up with the performers), rehearsal sessions, shots of "daily life" on the street and in church, and talking heads to show krump's wide-ranging appeal and participation. At the forefront is Tommy the Clown, credited here with originating the style in his performances at children's birthday parties. As he and other interviewees tell it, krump has since become an alternative to gang culture as the dancers -- mainly kids from South Central L.A. -- have organized competitions and found in the movement a source of inspiration and self-expression.

Is it any good?

Amid exhilarating dance sequences and talking heads (who range from earnest to wry, cocky to grateful), the film shows older dancers' efforts to keep young beginners in school and off the streets. The movie also suggests that art is an effective and ongoing response to oppression. While the film's organization is fragmented (some connections are left unexplored), it's a useful introduction to krumping. Featuring extraordinary bodies and photographer LaChapelle's signature intensity, Rize is most emphatically a display of artists, as they think their way past all kinds of limits and celebrate their skills.Rize shows, too briefly, that krump emerges from and reflects historical circumstances, from the 1965 Watts riots, through the economic downturns of the '80s, and the 1992 uprising. The subculture plainly draws from hip-hop, break dancing, ballet, modern dance, clowning traditions, and transgender and skateboard innovations. Like other forms of expression for exploited or minority communities, krump has become mainstream, most visibly in music videos. Krump is rooted in L.A., and its purveyors are protective of its politics.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the resolve shown by these young dancers, as they resist involvements in violence, gangs, and drugs. How does dedication to dancing (in groups and individually) encourage kids to stay focused on constructive self-expression? How does krump also help create a sense of unity and support, through competitions as well as mentoring relationships? What is the connection between this kind of dancing and religious organization, faith, and community?

Movie details

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