MRR Review: "Make Your Move"

Photo Credit: High Top Releasing

Rating: PG-13
Length: 110 minutes
Release Date: April 18, 2014
Directed by: Duane Adler
Genre: Musical

He is from one side of the dance scene, and she is from the other. Despite rivalries and overwhelming odds, these two very different dancers fall in love and will do anything to be together. Although the premise of "Make Your Move" has been done several times before, this film gives the classic musical love story a makeover and leaves audiences craving more. Featuring a colorful palette of dance styles and music along with diverse characters, "Make Your Move" is sure to impress.

Donny (Derek Hough), a cocky young man from Brooklyn with a talent for tap dancing, visits New Orleans and accidentally gets entangled in a criminal act that lands him in jail. He eventually gets out on parole, and he goes back to dancing for money. This does not sit well with his parole officer, who tells Donny he should just get a job. Instead of taking the officer's advice, Donny skips out on his parole and hightails it back to New York.

He goes to a popular underground dance club that his foster brother Nick (Wesley Jonathan) owns, but Nick is too troubled to appreciate Donny's return. Nick soon reveals that his business partner, Kaz (Will Yun Lee), left him to start his own club after a sleazy investor named Michael (Jefferson Brown) convinced Kaz that he would be more successful on his own. The new dance joint is heavy competition for Nick's place, and Donny soon finds himself mixed up in the rivalry between the two club owners.

Kaz's sister, Aya (BoA), a beautiful dancer from Japan, immediately catches Donny's eye. Aya's hip-hop dance group uses Taiko drums in its routines, and Donny is mesmerized. However, his brother warns him not to go near her. Although the two begin to fall for each other, their angry brothers make seeing each other difficult. On top of their status as rivals, Aya faces possible deportation back to Japan, while Donny's parole violation threatens to catch up with him. In the end, it will take more than some fancy stepping for the star-crossed lovers to overcome these obstacles and be together.

The love story detailed in "Make Your Move," which is reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, is expertly weaved into the storyline by director Duane Adler. The chemistry between the two characters is clear and compelling, thanks to great performances from BoA and Hough. The characters' similar circumstances and feelings of entrapment make their relationship that much more appealing. Their love story becomes more than just a run-of-the-mill romance when the two lovers dedicate themselves to maximizing their potential as dancers.

The music is catchy, and the dancing is always fresh and fun to watch. "Make Your Move" tirelessly offers up exciting dance numbers exploding with passion, and songs like "Let Me In" set the tone for each scene. Derek Hough, known for his heartfelt performances on "Dancing With the Stars," brings some real talent to the film, while BoA unleashes some mad moves of her own. Viewers who enjoyed movies like "Step Up" and "Footloose" are sure to enjoy this addition to the lineup of great dance films.

One of the most commendable elements of "Make Your Move" is the diversity of its cast. Although the main character is white, much of the cast is Asian American, a demographic that historically has been grossly underrepresented in film. Rather than being portrayed as Asian stereotypes, the characters are given complex personalities and major roles in the film. The movie continues its emphasis on diversity through its use of music and dance styles that range from tap dancing to Japanese hip hop.

Although the film has a lot going for it, "Make Your Move" still falls short in a few respects. The dances and actors are thoroughly entertaining, but the tired plot cannot be ignored. Audiences sometimes feel as if they have seen this movie before, and most of the plot twists are predictable. Despite this setback, this film still delivers enough entertainment to give it a solid rating of 3 out of 5 stars.

"Make Your Move" is a timeless love story, but it is also a film about chasing dreams and reaching one's full potential. The on-screen chemistry between the two lead protagonists carries the film through its shaky plot, and the backdrop of the underground dance club scene is thoroughly addicting. This movie promises audiences a non-stop ride of thrills and emotion through its beautiful display of dance and music, making it a great addition to any movie collection.