Hip-hop is undeniably a powerful and inspiring genre. However, it can also be dangerous at times. Director Joseph Kahn’s latest film Bodied perfectly shows what it’s like to use words as weapons in front of your opponent. With the help of screenwriter Alex Larsen a.k.a. Kid Twist, they manage to bring the audience a fascinating, satirical, witty, and intense film about battle rapping. If you think this movie is an 8 Mile rip-off, it’s not. Bodied is so much more than that. Let’s be clear here: freestyling and battle rapping are completely different from one another.
Calum Worthy plays an Ivy League graduate student named Adam who has been fascinated with the concept of battle rap and even decides to use that for his thesis assignment. He then meets Behn Grym (Jackie Long), a veteran battler, who discovers the main protagonist’s talent and willingly becomes his mentor. As the movie goes, Adam starts to develop his skill as a battle rapper, while his girlfriend doesn’t seem to like the idea of him using racist and misogynistic words in front of people. And now we have ourselves a highly entertaining and impressive film revolving around the theme of using words to attack people.
Let’s start off by saying that all the battle rap sequences are absolutely phenomenal. Since Joseph Kahn is mainly known for his background as a music video director, he has been able to incorporate some of his visual talent into the film. In some scenes, you feel like you’re getting gut-punched, which makes it quite effective. It’s offensive for sure, but you should know what you’re getting into. You can tell that Joseph Kahn and Alex Larsen are not afraid to back down from the film’s offensive nature, which makes it quite commendable actually.
Calum Worthy does a great job portraying the lead character, and he steals the show from start to finish. It’s really interesting to see him evolve from a nice guy to a hardcore and offensive battle rapper. His character has a fascinating way to study opponents’ characteristics such as their history, appearance, and ethnic background in order to successfully hurt them on an emotional and deep level. It’s also important to mention the fact that the actor isn’t afraid to get rid of his goofball image that he has shown in the hit Disney Channel series Austin & Ally.
In conclusion, Joseph Kahn and Alex Larsen brutally portray the harsh world of battle rap, while still making it feel tonally consistent and wildly entertaining. It’s not a movie for everyone, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is a powerful film of what it truly means to be offended. It works really well as both a rap movie and a piece of satire. Bodied is simply a hip-hop masterpiece.