Movie: Dancehall Queen

Date: Mon, 06 Apr 1998 23:44:20 -0400
From: Allie-I <>

Reprinted by permission from Reggae Runnins (RAW#717), Vol.4#1 ---------------------------------------------------------------

Movie Review: Dancehall Queen (Island Digital Media) Features live performances from Beenie Man, Chevelle Franklin, Lady Saw, and Anthony B.

When Marcia (Audrey Reid), a Kingston street vendor and single mother with two daughters, faces the loss of financial support from family friend, and self-proclaimed "Santa Clause", Larry (Carl Davis), she flips the script and makes a stand for herself and her family. Trading in her baseball cap for a gold tinsel wig and her dungarees for some spandex batty riders, she becomes the Dancehall Queen. A reluctant and somewhat unlikely heroine, she quickly learns that she has what it takes to outsmart the rude bwoys at their own game.

On a day like any other, a spat between Marcia and a menacing street thug called Priest (Paul Campbell) results in the death of Marcia‚s close friend, Sonny. While her brother Junior (Mark Danvers), who witnessed the murder, is having a nervous breakdown, (aided and abetted by harassment from the boys in blue, coupled with constant threats from Priest), Marcia learns that Larry is not the benevolent friend she thought him to be, but a child molester and a gangster. Gaining inspiration from a chance encounter with reigning queen of the dance, Olivine, Marcia begins to formulate her plan.

By day Marcia sells Red Stripes and box drinks on the streets, but at night she secretly transforms herself into the Mystery Lady, borrowing and bartering to pay for the high fashion outfits which are the mark of any dancehall diva. Turning heads and winin‚ her waistline, it is not long until Marcia has caught the eye of none other than Beenie Man. He proposes Marcia & Olivine compete for the throne of Dancehall Queen, a title which carries a prize of $100,000 Jamaican (about $35,000 US). By this time Marcia is leading the gullible Larry and Priest around by their male egos, pitting them against one another in a jealous final confrontation outside the African Star night club. Inside, Marcia is shaking her money-maker to the sounds of Chaka Demus & Pliers‚ What‚s the Move (one of the many wicked cuts reissued on the movie‚s soundtrack).

Winning the competition, the title, and the prize money, Marcia walks away with the greatest prize of all; her independence. Her journey to personal freedom is fraught with setbacks and self doubt. But with massive amounts of perseverance and determination, right triumphs over wrong. Dancehall Queen is about taking chances and creating your own destiny. It is about hope. It is about Jamaica. It‚s universal message is brought to life through fine acting (most noteable is Mark Danvers‚ depiction of Junior) and quality script writing. -Allie

Posted: Fri - February 7, 2003 at 06:21 PM