The Way We Dance

The Way We Dance


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

With candy colours and high energy blasting it along, director Adam Wong and writer Chan Tai Lee bring a sugar rush of enthusiasm to the teen dance genre with Hong Kong set The Way We Dance.

Central character Fleur (Cherry Ngan) becomes known for "dancing beyond the routine" and the same could be said for the film, which offers a thoughtful consideration of friendship, acceptance and overcoming adversity in between Shing Mak's fabulously choreographed dance numbers.

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Fleur has just gone to college, partly to escape from her family's tofu restaurant but mainly because she is determined to join the BombA dance crew. After impressing them with a hat-flipping routine Charlie Chaplin would be proud of, she gets accepted and quickly sets about her next ambition - securing the heart of BombA leading light Dave (Lokman Yeung) - unaware that his romantic enthusiasms lie with the dance group's female star Rebecca (Janice Fan), who has long-standing reasons for not liking Fleur.

Like all good teen romance movies, there is more than one man on the scene - enter "Dickead" Alan (Babyjohn Choi), a tai chi expert mocked by his peers. His martial art is based on harnessing the power of your opponent and it's not long before he's teaching Fleur a graceful lesson or two. Running parallel to the romance action is BombA's long-term rivalry with hip hop crew Rooftoppers - led by Stormy (Tommy "Guns" Ly) - with the clock ticking on a major dance-off.

The plot is somewhat sprawling, also finding time to take in Alan's surprising back story and a sideswipe at talent contests, but the regular insertion of inventive dance sequences mostly keeps things on track. Wong's decision to let the camera drink in the action rather than cut from dancer to dancer is also a good one and let's you truly appreciate the skill of what is going on.

Model turned actress Ngan is perfect for the role of Fleur, bring a bright and breezy attitude to the dialogue, which feels much less manufactured than some of that seen in US equivalents such as the Step Up franchise. The settings for the action - which include a race through a building that could have been plucked from a gritty American indy and an unremarkable piece of inner city park - are also a welcome change from the more polished and fake environments served up by Hollywood.

The film's chief failing is that several of the supporting characters, particularly Ly, have clearly been cast for their undoubtable dance prowess rather than their acting, which does have a tendency to bog down crucial exchanges.

Still, as the plot twists with the same lithe flexibility as the dancers there is lots to enjoy and late-stage revelations only serve to make the fluid and gripping dance sequences even more impressive. A sequel is reported to be in the works and (it's not often I get to say this), it would be welcome.

Reviewed on: 12 Jul 2013
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A student joins a hip hop club. On finding that her moves are too hot for others to handle, she is encouraged to explore martial arts.

Director: Adam Wong

Year: 2013

Runtime: 110 minutes

Country: Hong Kong


EIFF 2013

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