July 23, 2013

Innocent Steps: Cry, Cry, Cha-cha-cha

Though the movie's ostensibly about a couple of ballroom dancers, Innocent Steps has very few actual dance numbers. There's one in the beginning in which our hero Young-sae (Park Keon-hyeong), the country's greatest dance instructor, tries to be a competitor but ends up just getting hurt by jealous rivals. Then there's another flashy sequence near the end in which Young-sae's latest pupil and immigrant Chinese wife Chae-rin (Moon Geun-young) shakes her hips in the Nationals while partnering with his soulless enemy Hyun-soo (Yun Chang). Much of the time in between, however, this pic misses out on opportunities for tacky costumes and athletic moves and focuses instead on the two leads' budding love story. You see, Young-sae and Chae-rin are destined to be a real married couple (and not just an arranged one) since he's got so much to teach her about fusing the samba with ballet, and she's got so much to teach him about the magic of fireflies.

Writer-director (and sometime actor) Park Young-hoon's crafted a sappy story to be sure but I still welled up when the two estranged lovers went to the marriage bureau section of the immigration office and told stories of how much they loved each other, even if she'd basically caved under outside pressures to dance with the very evil blond rival who'd hired thugs to cripple her unlawfully wedded husband. The two sweeties eventually work things out in time for the credits which have probably the best dance sequence of all. (Does the fedora ever lose its charm? Apparently not!) I only wish Young-sae and Chae-rin had spent more time hanging out with goofy Chul-Yong (Kim Gi-su) and his giddy partner (Jeong Yu-mi) who got matching cornrows for the championship, even if no one ever took them serious as contenders.

As to the government inspectors investigating whether Young-sae and Chae-rin are really a couple or not, the less said the better.

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