Step Off Review

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Step Off. Well, almost nothing. There’s a pretty balsy statement on the DVD case, “Blends the mood, vigor and themes of 8 Mile and the perseverance and edge of Hustle and Flow with the old-school vibe of Juice”. The bolded titles are not my doing – and this film is not fit to stand on the shoulders of giants. The hip-hop film genre is diluted and polluted and these three films (among a few others) happen to represent when genuine artistry pops its head up ever so briefly. Step Off is just more of the same – so familiar in fact that it is an endurance slog, an astounding 102 minutes of every hip-hop film cliché culminating in a final battle that still manages to drag.

The idea here is solid – what if someone made a film about the beat-makers, the men and women behind the scenes that craft classics so pervasive that even if you don’t know the words, you feel the beat. Enter Rippa (Conrad Clifton) – yes, Rippa. Rippa is a producer with high standards, devoted to old school hip-hop and snub-nosing one opportunity after another for the sake of his art. He’s a born loser when it comes to the battle circuit but after he loses his equipment in a robbery, Rippa has to rise up and “make his dreams a reality” – that’s from the back of the DVD case, and please tell me you know where this is going.

No disrespect – this is a film clearly shot on the cheap and no doubt a labor of love for director LaRon Austin and his cast and crew. But 102 minutes? Honestly? There are so many unnecessary scenes, infinite iterations of “you can do this”, “no I can’t”, “yes you can”, “ok maybe I can”, attempts at humor that go on forever and a general exhaustion that looms over this cut of the film – Mr. Austin, please, if you’re reading this, lose 30 minutes, there’s a decent flick in here somewhere, it just needs some serious trimming. The way it is now, it’s downright a challenge to sit this film out. If that sounds like a dare, please ignore it.

DVD Bonus Features

First up we have “Deleted/Extended” scenes…and my mind is blown. Next up is a gag reel, a “Beat Box” featuring some well-crafted beats featured in the film (yes, that is a caveat, but not worth seeing the film for), a short Making-Of, and a series of trailers for other similarly low-budget features.

"Step Off" is on sale March 15, 2011 and is rated R. Drama, Indie. Directed by Laron Austin. Written by Martin L. Kelley, Eddie Davis Singleton. Starring Chris Burns, Conrad Clifton, Onira Tares.

Mark Zhuravsky • Staff Writer

I'm a prolific blogger, writer and editor who loves film.


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