Dance of a Dream


Somewhere around the halfway point I turned to the person I was watching this with and said “I have no idea where this film is going”. As it turned out neither did the director, Andrew Lau. Apparently this film was made from start to finish in about the lifespan of a fruit fly and this hurry up type of filmmaking is all too evident in a story that moves about an inch and then muddles about looking for an exit. It is entirely propelled by its star power  - Andy Lau, Anita Mui, Sandra Ng – and the charm that they can bring to this raggedy ann narrative. I suppose the surprising thing is that star power is star power for a reason and the film actually goes down fairly smoothly until the power outage of an ending.
The film revolves around ballroom dancing and as we learned in the Japanese film, Shall We Dance (that this film seems to be inspired by), ballroom dancing is good for whatever ails you. If you are a caterpillar waiting to burst into a butterfly, ballroom dancing is the answer. If you are unhappy with the humdrum routine of life, ballroom dancing is the answer. If love hasn’t crept up to the door of your heart yet, ballroom dancing is the answer. If we could only get Bush and Saddam, the leaders of North and South Korea, Arafat and Sharon all enrolled in the same ballroom dancing class, the world would be a better and safer place. I can see Saddam bravely chancing the tango and George giving him an encouraging pat on the shoulder. And of course Andy would have to teach the class and invite them over for barbecues and song and dance numbers. And there would have to be some female dance partners, so the Cop Shop Babes would have to be invited over. That should bring peace to the Middle East. If only.
Andy runs a ballroom dancing studio for amateurs – folks that dream of dancing the light fantastic – or of dreaming for a minute that they are Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers dressed to the Ts and effortlessly dancing the Carioca down the South American way. Though how Andy manages to pay two assistants (Gordon Lam and Shirley Huang - who is one of Andy's top concert dance performers) and live in this huge house on the payments from a handful of students is never fully explained. Andy has his own dream – Blackpool – the center of the world for ballroom dancing competition – and he is willing to be a bit smarmy to get the money to accomplish this goal. In fact, he is all too willing to shamelessly flatter his students to get them to pay more money and he sees dollar signs when he comes across the golden goose in the form of Anita and he is more than happy to be her lap dog - or is he? Of course this being Andy, we know deep down he is a fine fellow.
Among his students is the typical motley crew. Introverted Sandra Ng joins up after seeing Andy perform with stars in her eyes – there is the cheerful heavyset guy (Lam Chi Chung), the hostess girl (Cherrie Ying) and the perky married couple. Later, Anita’s brother, Edison Chan, persuades her to join the class. She is extremely wealthy, but of course not very happy. What she really needs is ballroom dancing. This whole group interacts and has fun and become friends – and that would be about it. The film reluctantly tries to bring in some drama at times, but that’s really beside the point – the film is simply about hanging out and having a good time. Not necessarily a bad thing. Unfortunately, the film suffers from a dreadful last ten minutes that makes no sense at all and leaves you wondering if you zoned out and completely missed something. But I just think they had no idea how to end it and so sort of winged it – badly.
There are a few highlights – Andy with his hair tied back in a bun, wearing a kilt and doing an amusing impersonation of Leslie Cheung on his Passion tour, a group song and dance number and an inadvertent showing of a point. In a scene, Anita grabs Sandra and accidentally (I mean really accidentally) tears her blouse thereby exposing Sandra’s breast – which is thankfully blurred out. On Sanney’s Entertainment site, he had this from Anita:

“I think it's just karma. She's so mouthy and so grabby, I think it was a warning for her to think about what she's doing!" When asked if she apologized to Ng for causing the accidental exposure, Mui continued to joke: "Nah! You don't know how happy she is that she revealed a point. If she had the chance, I know she'd do it again."

My rating for this film: 6.0