“First Step, First Dance, First Heartbeat. Will you dance with me?”
Hey there Drifters! (Like the name I coined for our supporters/fans?)
We’re back with another movie date (I changed the name to something suitable and fitting for this feature). This one features one of my favorite Korean actresses, Moon Geun Young, when she was 18, still pocket-sized and adorable as always. I really miss this girl! She goes for so long without an acting project. Seeing her dance like this makes me want to see her craft 7 years later with another male lead…preferably YOO AH IN! Gah! My dream couple in a dancing drama? I’ll pay to watch.
The second reason why I dug through my external hard drive is for the male lead. You wouldn’t believe it! He’s Park Gun Hyung, who’s currently playing the love-struck gynecologist in I Do I Do. This movie makes me love him MOAR, which is dangerous since he ain’t gonna get the girl. ٩(͡๏̯͡๏)۶ Doctors in drama never gets the girl. Since you have a brimming career, writers won’t give you a perfect life, apparently. Remember Yoon Pil Joo in Best Love? Anyway, Park Gun Hyung plays Korea’s best trainer here, and he looks fantastic in his costume, emphasizing his long, toned legs. A contrast to his clean-cut doc’s image, his character here is laid-back and scruffy. You’re gonna love him.
On a random note, if only I posted this movie earlier, Jeff could have taken up some tips for his prom party yesterday! hehe 😀 Sway those hips.
— Brief Recap and Funny Scenes —
The movie begins with a ballroom dancing competition, and our hero, Na Young Sae (Park Gun Hyung), glares at his rival, Jung Hyung Soo (Yoo Chan), and mutters, “It’s not the partner but the partnership that counts..” He shoots a longing glance towards Hyung Soo’s partner and we can deduce that his partner is stolen on the spot. The movie might be innocent steps, but right now the other competitors are on Hyung Soo’s side and promptly use dirty tricks to eliminate Young Sae, evilly crushing on his leg for good measure.
After he loses his place in the competition, Young Sae is reduced to a slob, lacking the energy to do anything in daily life, except for eating and sleeping and more sleeping. His manager comes by and offers to invite a dancer from China to collaborate with him, meaning to bring his passion for dance back. Turns out the girl who landed to Korea isn’t the proclaimed dancer, but her innocent younger sister, Jang Chae Ryn (Moon Geun Young). In order for her to stay in Korea, they must register as husband and wife during this period, which provides some funny and touching moments with the fraud-marriage investigators.
There’s this unpleasant scene where the manager beats Chae Ryn for lying about her identity. Young Sae is frustrated with the revelation and turns away, allowing his manager to whack the harmless girl a few more times before she’s dragged off to repay the debt in other ways.
Using the public phone, Chae Ryn calls Young Sae the next day to apologize, and informs him that the manager has found her a job that will pay as well as teach her dance. Naively, she promises to come back and fulfill her role as the substituted dancer in place of her sister. After hearing her eagerness and sincere apology on the phone, the guilt starts to prick at Young Sae and he sets out to search for her, knowing that the job his manager hooked this girl with is surely sketchy and dirty. And it is.
We skip forward to him trudging a few steps ahead of Chae Ryn, who is dressed in a dandy dress, a face smeared with make-up, her arm hauling a big luggage. She slips and strains her ankle, (CUE!) so he gives her a piggyback ride down the wintry road, snow falling beautifully around them. He mumbles, “That job doesn’t teach you dance, only to strip. At your age, not wearing any make-up is the best.” His gentleman demeanor brings a small smile to her lips and she snuggles closer to his back. So cute.
With only three months left to the next competition, can he transform her into the next dancing queen? Hijinks ensue as the naive girl clashes with the strict but talented ajusshi. Chae Ryn’s Yanbian accent is hilarious. Usually, it’s Ajusshi, but for her it’s “Ajuhbai,” and whenever he swings her body about during their practice, she would let out small yelp of “Ajuhbai…bai…bai…” meaning to make him stop the twirling.
Day in….Day out….they practice, as you can see from the screen shots below…
And of course, being in close proximity with such a captivating dancer, any girl would dream bigger…
Chae Ryn finally masters the steps of Latin dance, and now it’s time to develop the trust and partnership with Young Sae.
He asks, “Do you love me?” She stares up at him, seriously considering the possibility, but he smashes her bubble with a dose of reality, “People who aren’t in love don’t entrust each other with their hearts. There is no trust so they don’t entrust each other with their bodies too. You really want to dance? I don’t care if it’s a lie. When you’re dancing, love me. I will love you too…”
Slowly, she nods. And their magical chemistry begins here…. Too hot.
Unfortunately, history repeats itself in that the manager turns out to be the big bad wolf. He lets Hyung Soo know about Chae Ryn undergoing training under Young Sae and the latter is greatly interested of the young girl. He knows that Young Sae is special; he’s able to bring out his partner’s best ability. Therefore, on the day of the registration, Young Sae finds out that his manager betrays him again, signing Chae Ryn up beforehand with Hyung Soo.
Young Sae isn’t willing to let go the second time but Hyung Soo threatens to reveal their fake marriage. That night, he sends his cohorts to break Young Sae leg again. The following days pass by slowly, painfully as Young Sae must make a decision for Chae Ryn’s sake. He plays noble idiot and sends her away to Hyung Soo. Brilliant scene with crippled Young Sae angrily smashing everything that reminds him of their memories, while Chae Ryn pleads for him to stop. She finally decides to leave when he glares at his own costume and launches at it. She protects the fragile item, crying out, “Please don’t rip this! You have to wear it when you dance. I’ll leave….please….” As she packages her clothes, she whispers, “Please don’t hate when I leave like this…please don’t hate me.”
The day of the competition:
I really like this part where she goes against the evil dancer’s wishes and wears the prepared red dress that Young Sae made specifically for her. To Hyung Soo, she is merely a prop, a means to reach his desired goal of placing first in the competition, but he doesn’t realize that he’s only a medium for her to communicate and relay her love for Young Sae, who is standing in floor 2, watching her every step of the way. Such a beautiful and poignant moment for them. There’s also the fact that we see her personal growth throughout the movie. For some of us, we’d rather mess up during the dance as a way to embarrass our conniving partner *points at self*, and yet she chooses to be professional and matches his dance moves, proving to Hyung Soo that she learns more than dance from Young Sae. It’s calmness, grace, and dignity.
LOVE LOVE how they styled Moon Geun Young in here. Her hairstyles were beautifully done, which makes me think she should hire that stylist again. Remember her mop of mess in Mary? *shudders*
The ending? I won’t spoil it for you….but I do like the role reversal in their analogy for love and fireflies! Hope you like this movie as much as I do! Feel free to recommend future movies for this feature.