Dancers, stars and influencers participate in a publicity stunt to transform an area into a “Dance street”…
Hong Kong director Adam Wong’s The Way We Keep Dancing is a follow up to his successful 2013 film The Way We Dance. But viewers are put in a weird situation, as the film does not feature the characters from the original film, rather fictionalised versions of the actors that played the characters in the original.
Wong focuses on members of the KIDA (Kowloon Industrial City Artists) organisation, which includes dancers, graffiti artists, and hip-hop artists who are trying to save their creative environment which is under the constant threat of destruction. Kowloon is portrayed as an industrialised place that is full of loud hammering and drilling sounds. Cherry Ngan plays the main protagonist Hana, who is trying to realise her potential and become a big star in the commercial TV and movie world. Rapper Heyo Fok opens the film with a rap about the city, YouTuber Ah Leung entertains the audience on the worldwide web, and Dave the dancer chases his dream of becoming a professional performer.
The group is invited to participate in a publicity stunt where they get photoshopped, airbrushed, and montaged onto the screen in locations throughout the city to advertise new developments, but their old friends in the hip-hop scene don’t approve of them selling out. They also get attacked at press conferences and their advertising graffiti gets vandalised. This causes arguments within the team, and all turn their backs on Hana as a result.
The strength of the film is the director’s love for hip hop, which is brilliantly expressed by a montage about the protest group. The group try to explain what hip hop is, and show that Heyo is not a genuine hip-hopper but someone that just does it for money. The rapping in the movie could have been better, although the dancing in the film was ultimately more problematic.
The dancing is lacklustre throughout. There are many moments when a dance scene is telegraphed, but all we get are snippets that are cut short. Even the biggest dance event, the competition, only shows about a minute of dancing. There is so much happening between the characters that breaking the narrative with dance scenes would have made sense. As it stands, the placement of the dances is not ideal. Those anticipating a lot of flashy dancing due to the title are going to be disappointed. The film’s strength lies in the messages that are hidden within the story, but viewers will have to become fully invested in the characters to gain anything. Without such enthusiasm, the film will quickly become dull, as the focus is on character development.
The story builds towards a final scene that quickly turns from a commercial to a protest and sends a powerful message that true hip hop is still alive. The story also harbours important messages about the problems of celebrities who just go from one project to another without any genuine interactions or private life. This situation was portrayed very well by the character of Hana.
A love of hip hop is certainly highlighted, but overall, The Way We Keep Dancing has room to improve.