Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dance of the Dragon

dod “A young boy in Korea discovers a dream. A dream he would follow. A dream that would lead to love. Only one thing stands in his way; he must fight for what he loves. Dare to dream, dare to love, dare to fight…Dance of the Dragon.”

Dance of the Dragon starring Jason Scott Lee, Fann Wong and Jang Hyuk is the story of a poor Korean country boy Tae (Hyuk) who since childhood, dreams of becoming a ballroom dancer. Life circumstances all but crush this dream from Tae until he has an opportunity to go to Singapore to a dance school.

There, he meets Emi (Fann Wong), a once champion retired dancer who runs the school. She is romantically involved with Cheng (played by Jason Scott Lee), a former fighting champion who now runs a dojo. But it is apparent that she is restless in her life and very unhappy in her relationship with Cheng.

When an attraction grows between student and teacher, Cheng confronts Tae and challenges him to fight – fight to stay in the studio, fight to stay near Emi.

I enjoyed this movie – was prepared to like it simply because of Janghhyuk dod Hyuk ~ my favorite Korean actor hands down. He’s got a charming face and a smokin’ body, but beyond that, he’s an incredible actor. I’m familiar with Fann Wong from two Singapore series; “Heroes In Black”, and “Out to Win”.

The storyline unfortunately seemed one dimensional to me - after seeing Tae and Emi dance once Cheng (Jason Scott Lee) is absurdly jealous. Had we had more scenes of Emi teaching Tae and a gradual build up to their attraction to each other I could have bought the jealousy. The Tae and Emi thing had much more potential for development too, than it was given which was regrettable. There was so much heat between Jang Hyuk and Fann Wong that I would really have enjoyed watching that evolve. Would have been nice to give them scenes "after hours" where she's teaching him to refine his gift, we could have got some of her back story from her side.

Cheng’s anger – wish we could have gotten more on that too. I was confused – he seemed at once to be a brutish creep but then a sensitive guy just trying to keep his relationship intact. We are suddenly treated to him sitting at a diner table, with a dude we’d never seen before, paying Cheng to rough up a guy who owes him money. Since when did we know Cheng was a mob leg-breaker? When did that happen?

10fdm4 You know, there was beautiful chemistry between Tae and his father - their relationship was a complex one - as many father/son relationships are. The ball was dropped there – this should have been broadened to add more depth. I came away feeling like the "dare to love" tag line was more about Tae going against his father's wishes in learning to dance (his lifelong love) than it was about the hotness between Tae and Emi. Sigh*

Jang Hyuk was the stand out as far as I was concerned. His English was - I could understand him - so often I can't (coughTheLobbyistcough) and the guy can emote without needing to say a single line; such subtlety in his face! He's a child in the face of his father's disappointment, he's full of wonder looking out of the taxi in Singapore, gripping determination in his face as he tells Cheng he'll meet his challenge, intensely focused during the dance and fight scenes. I would have liked to see him smile more, to blossom in his love for Emi. But alas, the movie was too short and underdeveloped.

Overall, a nice movie ~ not one I would have cared about if Jang Hyuk had not been in it. I really hope that he finds another vehicle someday that will propel him into some international attention. He’s gifted and has a great deal of charisma. I’ve yet to see him in anything (post Army) that has been bad. Dance of the Dragon wasn’t bad, but Jang Hyuk was the only element that made it good.


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