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Genre: Drama
Starring: Jang Hyuk, Fann Wong, Jason Scott Lee
Director: John Radel, Max Mannix
Rating: PG
Year Made: 2008



- The Making of




Languages: English
Subtitles: English/Chinese
Aspect Ratio: -
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Running Time: 1 hr 51 mins
Region Code: 3
Distributor: Scorpio East




Korean country boy Tae leaves for Singapore to learn ballroom dancing from former champion Emi Lim. Though he is the worst stydent in the studio, Emi recognises his passion and talent and soon romance blossoms. Emi boyfriend, Cheng, a former Kung Fu champion challenges Tae to a showdown with the loser leaving town and Emi for good.


The folks at ‘Uniquely Singapore’ should be pleased at this good to look at movie.
Indeed, cinematographer turned writer-director John Radel has created many pretty, postcard-worthy shots of Singapore in his debut feature film here. Unfortunately, this is also the best thing that his co-production with producer Robin Leong has to offer.

The story revolves around a Korean country boy Tae (played by Jang Hyuk) who has been in love with ballroom dancing since young. After ten years working in a dead-end factory job, Tae realises that a dance audition in Singapore may be his last ticket at pursuing his lifelong dream of being a dancer. Against the objections of his pragmatic father, he flies off to our sunny island and meets Emi (Fann Wong), the dance instructor he eventually falls for.

But this unexpected romance pits him against Emi’s boyfriend, a former martial arts champion Cheng (Jason Scott Lee), who challenges Tae to a showdown. There is also a subplot of Emi mustering the courage to compete once again after retiring from an ankle injury a few years earlier.

A bold attempt at bringing together dance and martial arts, Dance of the Dragon nevertheless suffers from a paper thin plot and caricatured characters. The very idea of Tae coming to Singapore to learn dancing is in itself dubious. But what really requires the audience to suspend their belief is Fann Wong’s portrayal of Emi as a former dance champion.

Except for the very last scene where Tae and Emi take to the dance floor, we never get to see Emi actually dancing. In fact, Tae’s dancing when he first auditions is impressive enough to lead us to think that the student may actually be better than the teacher. Even the nicely edited close-up shots fail to make you believe that Emi is a great dancer.

Of course, the story is not helped by its flat one-note characters. Tae is the underdog who will triumph, Emi is the has-been that will regain her glory, and Cheng is the jealous lover who will learn sacrifice. Sans for Tae, there is little for the audience to actually empathize with for both Emi and Cheng.

And that is naturally a disappointment, because Dance of the Dragon is also easily Singapore’s most technically accomplished movie. The shots are beautiful, the music (while at times overwrought) is evocative and the production design is inspired. One hopes therefore that John Radel had spent as much time developing the story and the characters as he had ensuring that the movie looked pretty on screen.

At best therefore, this represents a missed opportunity, a unique concept of dance and martial arts set in our island city that appeared so promising let down ultimately by a ho-hum execution.


Making Of Featurette:
Writer-director John Radel, producer Robin Leong and the principal cast talk about the filming of this movie in Singapore. Watching it only serves as a sad reminder of what this movie could have been.


Audio is presented in both Dolby 2.0 and Dolby 5.1 and the surround effect is best at the martial arts showdown between Tae and Cheng. Picture quality is excellent, complimenting the beautifully shot movie.



Review by Gabriel Chong



. Dance of the Dragon (Movie Review)

. Dance of the Dragon (Director + Producer's Interview)

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This review is made possible with the kind support from Scorpio East


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