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Star Power Elevates 'Steps'

2005/04/29 Source

By Shim Sun-ah
Yonhap News Agency

Moon Geun-young charms as an ethnic Korean dancer from China in "Innocent Steps".
What do two homegrown films "Windstruck" and "My Little Bride" have in common? Both of them are said to rely solely on the charms of lead actresses Jun Ji-hyun and Moon Geun-young. The actresses are popular among South Korean women as well as men.

Both movies primarily focus on making the star actresses seem even more appealing. The male leads in these movies are secondary characters the audience can hardly remember.

Moon's latest film, "Innocent Steps", is also said to belong to this category of "personality-dependent" films. Moon plays the role of Jang Chae-rin, an ethnic Korean dancer from Yanbian, northeastern China. The story develops in quite an old-fashioned way, but the film is still entertaining thanks to Moon, who is definitely its strongest asset, plus the exciting rhythms of the samba, cha-cha and rumba dancing.

Chae-rin, without even knowing the basics of dancing, comes to Seoul to attend a national sports dancing championship as a substitute for her dancing-queen sister, who is forced to skip the Seoul event for personal reasons. Chae-rin thus manages to enter South Korea on her sister's passport.

Her partner in the competition is Na Young-sae (Park Gun-hyung), a former member of the country's dance sport team. But Chae-rin is soon caught living a lie. After some twists and turns, she learns dancing from Young-sae and love, too.

As in "My Little Bride", Moon wins the hearts of viewers with her innocent, big eyes and bright smiles. In "Innocent Steps", she looks mature as she sings a hit song by the late Chinese pop singer Teresa Teng and dances in a thigh-length red dress.

Moon is 19 years old, the same age as her character in the film, so the audience may see much of Moon in Chae-rin. There are certain roles that especially suit a particular actor, and Moon seems born to play Chae-rin. However, her young age prevents her from depicting deep feelings of love.

Park, remembered by musical fans here for his lauded performance in the local version of "Saturday Night Fever", adds entertainment to the film with his dancing and physical charm. However, his performance lacks passion and rage with unnatural smiles.

"Innocent Steps" shifts from a typical sports movie to a comic-book-like romance in its second half as Jeong Hyeon-su (Yoon Chan), the villain, tries to spoil the dancers' plans. Jeong physically separates the lovers, but they meet again eventually and confirm their love for each other.

Computer-generated fireflies also play a strong role in the picture, symbolizing the innocent love that director Park Yeong-heon said he tried to depict in the movie. Go to a cinema and check out the role they play in the reunion of the lovers.

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