REVIEW: Dance of a Dream (2001)

danceofadream

Hong-kong-icon

2001, Teamwork Motion Pictures Ltd.

Director:
Andrew Lau
Producers:
Andy Lau
Andrew Lau
Writer:
Felix Chong
Cinematography:
Andrew Lau
Ko Chiu-Lam
Editing:
Danny Pang
Curran Pang

Cast:
Andy Lau (Namson Lau)
Anita Mui (Tina Cheung)
Sandra Ng (Kam)
Gordon Lam (Faye Wong)
Edison Chen (Jimmy Cheung)
Ronald Cheng (Yip Wai-Shih)
Suzanne Chung (Mrs. Yip)
Cherrie Ying (June)
Lam Tze-Chung (Fatty)
Shirley Huang (Shirley)
Belinda Hammett (Kam’s Roommate)
Halina Tam (Kam’s Roommate)

Hong Kong’s answer to the 1996 hit Japanese film Shall We Dance? Has not one but two interconnecting stories that merge into one fun dance film.

At a social event for a company run by siblings Tina and Jimmy Cheung, Namson Lau and his partner Shirley are the grand finale. Namson is a dance instructor who performs to pay the rent for his current dance studio. He long dreams of making himself well known as a top dance instructor. At the event, hiring waitress Kam eyes Namson and becomes infatuated with him and would love to dance with him. As for Tina, whose business mind has made her lose her smile, Jimmy decides to hire Namson to teach her to dance to bring her smile back.

Kam joins Namson’s studio and joins a beginner’s group that includes couple Mr. and Mrs. Yip; club girl June, and Fatty, who looks for self-esteem through dance. Kam finds the class fun, especially when Namson, Shirley, and co-founder Faye join in. As for Tina, when she wants Namson to dance with her at an upcoming social event, she takes the training seriously to the point where it takes Kam to help Tina finally see that dancing is more than just dancing. As for Kam, will she finally get the chance to live her dream to dance with Namson and will Namson also realize his dream to get his big studio?

Before hitting it with big with the epic trilogy Infernal Affairs, director/cinematographer Andrew Lau and writer Felix Chong collaborated on this underrated dance dramedy that not is about dreams, but the power of friendship, both long-standing and new. Having an ensemble cast led by three iconic Hong Kong actors really makes this film a fun millennial dance film that is more akin to films such as Shall We Dance and Strictly Ballroom. Perhaps, one can even say that this is a meshing of both films wrapped in one little package.

Andy Lau, who also served as the film’s producer, is wonderful as Namson, who while attempting to achieve his dream of running a big dance studio, unknowingly changes the lives of two women. Anita Mui goes through the most change of the film as the seriously-minded Tina, who is seen as so close minded that she disapproves of her brother’s carefree style. However, she soon learns that dancing is meant to be fun as well as taken seriously and it takes an invite to a barbecue that shows Tina’s softer side. Sandra Ng’s Kam may come off as a bit obsessive, and she does go as far as getting a job as the studio’s cleaning lady in exchange for the lessons. While this usually present a creepy side, it ultimately becomes likable due to the fact that she not only gets close to Namson, but becomes good friends with the other students at the studio.

One of the funniest scenes is actually the barbecue, the pivotal scene for Tina’s change of mood. It starts with Lau dressing up in drag to perform one of Leslie Cheung’s classic songs and getting cheers from everyone. Then, the core cast of the film delves into a musical number filled with some fun dance sequences mixed in. And yes folks, the cast themselves from pop legends Lau and Mui to supporting cast members Ng, Gordon Lam, Ronald Chung, Lam Tze-Chung, Stephanie Chung, and Cherrie Ying actually sing in the film. The film does end on a high note and is set on Christmas.

Dance of a Dream is not a romantic comedy, but a fun dance film that revolves around change and friendships. Despite lifting elements from other dance film classics, this film is truly an underrated gem of a film, thanks to the performances of its cast and some great direction and cinematography by Andrew Lau.

WFG RATING: A

DVD

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