Saturday, February 28, 2015

Film review: Make Your Move

Every day people ask me to review things, so I thought why not do a review of a film?  Especially a film that's relevant to the world of k-pop, and that few of you have seen (I couldn't find any other reviews of this film anywhere in the k-pop blogosphere).  Yes, that's right, it's time for Kpopalypse to take a look at BoA and SM Entertainment's "Make Your Move".

boa-and-taemin copy

"Make Your Move" collected mixed reviews when it came out, and had such a reputation for being crap among k-poppers that even BoA fans didn't want to watch it - but how bad is it, really?  Does it have any redeeming features?  Should it have been more successful or was the mass box-office shunning completely justified?  Time to find out, as Kpopalypse braves his sanity and jumps in front of a speeding, tap-dancing bullet just for you, the dear readers!


Released: 2013
Running time: 105 minutes

I found this film on DVD in the movies section of my local JB Hi-Fi, retailing for the princely sum of $12.98, which is a price point somewhere between "film someone somewhere might actually care about" and "we just want to get rid of this shit off our shelves".  Seeing as how people are always asking me for my "thoughts", here are the thoughts I had when I saw this film on the shelf, in order.
"Wow, my DVD store actually HAS this?"
"Who is Derek Hough and why is he elbowing BoA in the tit?"
"Gosh, $12.98 - that's a bit steep for such an obscure flop - but if I don't buy it now, I'll probably never see this again anywhere ever because I'm sure it's not a hot-ticket item that the store will be desperately intent on restocking if it sells, so what the fuck I'll buy it, it'll make good review material."
"This is almost guaranteed to be crap, I hope my readers appreciate this."
It's clear to me that not many people watched this film because I couldn't find any reviews of it on k-pop sites.  This surprised me - a film about dancing, starring a Korean pop singer known as one of the style's better dancers, how could this not generate interest in the k-pop community?  I saw lots of comments from people saying "gee, no surprise that this sucks" when hearing about how it flopped at the box office but it was all valueless commentary because it was almost all written from people who hadn't actually seen the film.  I'm a big believer in experiencing something before I cast judgement - most people I know have strong negative opinions on pop-cultural items like Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey, but I haven't checked them out so I can't justifiably join in on the trendy cynicism that's circulating.  In fact, my friends constantly (and I mean constantly) rabbiting on about how terrible those books/films were actually makes me want to check them out purely so I can participate in the conversation instead of feeling forced to be silent.  So it's also partly for similar reasons that I ended up watching "Make Your Move".

Some research before I began watching (i.e reading the back of the DVD box) revealed that Derek Hough was in some American TV show called "Dancing With The Stars" which I never watched or knew about.  Also the screenwriter and director of this also wrote the scripts for those "Step Up" and "Save The Last Dance" films, which means he's actually got experience doing this type of thing.  I've never seen those films and maybe they lick balls, but they seem like a similar sort of thing and I would have hoped that doing the same kind of film over and over would make one better at it over time.  Or maybe not.  Oh well.  Anyway, I put the lights down low and pumped up the speaker volume on my widescreen TV, giving "Make Your Move" every fair chance to impress me, and here's what I got in return:

Plot synopsis: Derek plays Donny, a career criminal who makes a living by distracting people while other people steal stuff, which seems like something film-producers SM Entertainment would know a fair bit about.  What doesn't make a lot of fucking sense to me is that his method of distraction is tap-dancing, I mean why learn tap-dancing when flashing your dick at random strangers is way more distracting and would work way better plus requires no special training.  Anyway he doesn't really look the part of someone who cons people for a living which is the film's first major flaw - shitty casting.  A "too fresh-faced for the role" issue is what I call "DiCaprio Syndrome".  In the film Titanic, Leonardo DiCaprio was cast as some world-weary traveller who had been everywhere and done everything and seen the world yet he looked like a 17 year old high-schooler and this seriously downgraded the film's believability (Kate Winslet's boobs made it okay, though).  Derek's character's credibility is similarly handicapped, and they try to make up for it with a bit of stubble and some old clothes but he never at any stage looks like anything other than a model showcasing some clothing company's new line of "pre-aged" jeans.  Not that BoA is much better - she's supposed to be some bold no-rules rebel dancer but she spends most of her screen time making simpering doe-eyes at Derek or acting like someone just took a piss in her cornflakes.  Anyway the story basically is that Donny is inspired by (don't laugh) five seconds of Internet footage of some girls in a club lamely dancing to f(x)'s "Nu Abo" to skip parole, move to Brooklyn and sponge mercilessly off his brother for employment in a dance club where he by chance runs into Aya (BoA) who's family runs a rival dance club.   From that point onward we're in for a completely predictable story which meshes most of the elements of "Romeo and Juliet" (romance between two people from warring families who hate each other for vague and trivial reasons that anybody with a life wouldn't give two shits about) with most of the elements of a Mills and Boon romance novel (guy meets girl / guy pesters girl annoyingly like a rapist until she relents and lets him into his life a little just to shut him the fuck up / girl discovers that she's falling for him probably due to a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome / they fuck / some dumb misunderstanding or communication breakdown that is ultimately trivial gets in the way and they break up / while apart they can't stop thinking about each other / they sort it out in the end via some weird contrived scheme and get back together).  The rear box art even admits as much, calling the film a "modern day Romeo and Juliet" and while also using every Mills and Boon cliche in the book:


So you pretty much already know everything that's going to happen in the film just from reading the back of the box.  The only thing left to chance is, will they go for a traditional Shakespearian ending (everybody dies) or a Mills and Boon style ending (lovers are reunited)?  Well, this film is from squeaky-clean (at least on the outside) SM Entertainment so you can probably guess the answer to that one.  The plot is the number one problem with this film, it's just too predictable for words and if you haven't guessed every single major plot movement that happens in the entire film after about 10 minutes into it, you probably don't watch a lot of films in general - and who would blame you if they were all of this standard.

Appeal to dancefags: I'll be the first one to admit that I know nothing about dancing.  Derek's mainly tap-based moves do seem pretty impressive to my untrained eye though, and so does BoA's "I don't know what the fuck you call that but I suppose it looks alright" style as well as the rest of the dancing cast.  The Japanese drumming is a bit shit though, hitting a drum while waving your arms around and yelling a bit is actually pretty fucking basic (and that's something I do actually know about), but hey it might impress someone so whatever.  What's not so great about the film is the implementation of some of the dance - the main characters will on occasion go from dialogue into an obviously tightly-choreographed symbolic dance scene, but the script specifically plays it off as something spontaneous.  Witness (if you dare) the below scene where Derek's harrassment of BoA until she finally accepts his dinner date is played out with symbolic dance moves instead of dialogue:

It's all pretty cringeworthy, and sure it might interest a few people on some sort of technical dance level but it's certainly not interesting in any other aspect.  Also don't you love the moral lessons of this film?  "Guys, if she says no, she probably doesn't mean it so just keep annoying her until she eventually says yes" is basically what we're learning here.  Guys, this film is training you to be a typical rapey kind of douchebag, and girls, this film is teaching you that it's perfectly acceptable for guys to be pestering assholes who can't take no for an answer and that you should just deal with it because they're so nice once you get to know them really, and that your opinion doesn't matter - you owe them a chance to go out with you even if they're acting like dickheads, because they really like you, man.  Ugh.  This kind of creepy social conditioning via popular culture is about 13582796 times more offensive to me than any of the supposedly "offensive" posts on Anti Kpop-Fangirl because it's not satirical or tongue-in-cheek but sincere in intention and actually has an effect on the young audience that this sort of production is aimed at.  I could start a band called Admiral Niggerjew and the Rapecunting Faggot Bitches tomorrow and write a whole album of songs about the joys of oppressing women and minorities and it wouldn't be half as offensive or damaging to society as the subtext of the courtship dynamics in "Make Your Move"... that is, assuming anybody actually watched "Make Your Move".

Appeal to k-pop fans: so, how much actual k-pop content is in this thing, is it enough to make k-pop fans care?  Obviously BoA being in it is the big drawcard for k-poppers (or was supposed to be - oops), but there's no BoA songs at all except one that rolls over the end credits and BoA's character in the movie is a dancer, not a singer (just like the real BoA isn't that right vocalfags, p.s notice nobody cares).  TVXQ's Yunho makes an embarrassing cameo as a very awkward-looking dancer, and one of their songs is in the soundtrack somewhere, as well as Girls' Generation's "Cheap Creeper" and an English-language version of Henry's "Trap".   All of these songs appear quite briefly, and apart from those and the previously mentioned f(x) content, that's all you get.  You don't even get any of the iconic k-pop dancing - "Make Your Move" would have been the perfect movie to showcase it especially with BoA on board, but in the rare cases where k-pop is briefly danced to it's not by BoA and seemingly not using the original point choreography but new moves especially made for this film.  The k-pop connection is oddly completely wasted (it's not even mentioned that BoA's character is Korean until about the 45 minute mark), maybe the filmmakers were worried that going further into this area might have alienated audiences but I think not making a shit generic film should have been a more pressing concern.

Appeal to BoA fappers: BoA's hair and face look fantastic throughout and she's styled very flatteringly and from all the right angles at least from the shoulders up, which should please anyone who is here just to see BoA on the big screen and for no other reason (although for my money as far as pure fap value goes she's upstaged by Polish actress Izabella Miko as a secretary or whatever, who doesn't get nearly enough screen time).  From the neck down it's a different story - despite the camera being very kind to her, BoA has the disadvantage of constantly dressing like a frumpy hip-hop granny, all flowing Keith Richards hippy threads and boring hoodies instead of the kind of shit we'd rather see her wear.  Still, BoA fans are at least well catered for in the film's love scene which is another one of those comical metaphoric "spontaneous" choreographed dance-offs.

BoA fappers might as well just watch the above YouTube and forget all about the rest of the film, as it contains all the fap you're going to get... unless you're a sadist who also likes watching business turf wars where girls get strongarmed by irate guys in suits paranoid about getting the short end of a deal (which I guess is also something SM Entertainment would know all about).

Conclusion: Don't bother.  Yes, everybody was right and I should've listened, but hey at least I found out my own way and hopefully entertained you in the process... probably the most entertainment value anyone has so far extracted from this film.  It's honestly not absolutely horrible, just brain-thuddingly average and dumb.  I would have actually preferred "Make Your Move" if it was completely awful because then it would have at least been funny and that could have been really entertaining, but as it turns out it's just super-bland, a far worse crime.  I'd rather listen to The Shaggs than Nickelback.

Final score: 1.5 unconvincingly-thrown flashbangs out of 5.



  1. my favourite Kpop movie is still the one Baek Jiyoung made with her manager

  2. Replies
    1. I think she's actually supposed to be Japanese in the movie, because she says something like "what would you do if I went back to Japan" in the movie trailer.

    2. In the film she's "Korean blood, raised in Japan". This is the only reference to Korean in the entire film, the rest of the time she's talking about Japan stuff when her home country is mentioned.

    3. That line's like some super-deep meta commentary on BoA's life. She might as well have been raised in Japan with all the time she spent over there... l0l

  3. It was $9.95 at my JB Hi Fi, but Pink Flamingos was right beside it so I bought that instead.

    1. You made the right choice. I wonder how those two films got filed together though, JB Hi-Fi staff so some strange shit.

  4. Thanks for highlighting the only fappable part of the film.

  5. This was on Star Movies recently but I skipped it and watched wrestling instead