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Anthony Chau-Sang Wong,
Jump is a 2009 Chinese movie that's basically a tame version of "Step Up" meets 'Shaolin Soccer". That sentence pretty much sums up the entire movie sufficiently enough, and I could end this review right here and just rate the thing. But, I'll put in a little more effort.
"Jump" stars Kitty Zhang as a country farm girl who goes to the big city to chase her dreams of becoming a hip-hop dancer. She scrounges & scrapes, and works her ass off to blindly achieve her goal; all the while playing the naïve bumpkin with a heart of gold who couldn't be happier. By day, she works in a textile factory, and at night, she is the janitor of a dance studio where she picks up what moves she can by observing the dance crew while mopping the floors. She stays late at night at the dance studio to study & practice, and she sleeps and eats whenever she can.
Stuck up rich kids who comprise the dance crew treat the country girl like dirt and make fun of her, until one day, she tires of the bullying and shows off her newfound dance moves. Then, everybody is now good friends and she's welcomed in as part of the dance crew that's soon set to face off against the "evil" Korean dance team champs. Along the way, she catches the eye of the playboy rich dude who owns the dance studio, and romance between the two is afoot.
This movie is oh so predictable, and it's a story that's been told a thousand times before; fish out of water ugly duckling finds her calling in the bright lights of the big city while making friends and finding love. Is this version of this age old tale worth checking out?...Probably not, but you won't kill yourself if you watch it.
Kitty represents herself well enough for what she's asked to do. She's plays the unkempt country girl who one day blossoms into an urban beauty...as usual, it's pretty clear she's very attractive to begin with, whether she's farming in northern China or dancing on the streets of downtown Hong Kong, but apparently no one can see this until she gets the "pretty movie makeover treatment". And of course, there's one scene in the movie where the rich playboy invariably takes her to a high end beauty salon & clothier, and she's instantly turned into a young goddess ready for a night on the town with the cool kids and rich people.
The rest of the cast consists of the main love interest played by Daniel Wu, her best friend from back home, her dad she left behind, the snotty dance crew who come to embrace her, and a few other people; they're mostly serviceable, but I've never really quite understood the appeal of Daniel Wu. I've seen him in a ton of stuff, and he's never awful and doesn't irritate me per se, but I just don't see the star power that he apparently is supposed to have. Oh well, to each their own I guess.
That's about it. A few more random thoughts:
I was not really all that impressed with the dance scenes; I've seen better in other movies and any number of Asian dance/survival TV shows. That being said (written), I personally couldn't dance my way out of a wet paper bag, so I cannot say anything more than that about this aspect of the film.
It took me about 1 or 2 minutes into viewing this film to say to myself, "Hmmm, this movie seems like Stephen Chow must be involved somehow". Sure enough, he's the main credited writer, and this production clearly has all of the earmarks and undertones of his trademark approach to storytelling.
Kitty's character often appears to be borderline insane in her relentless positive outlook on life. She's constantly smiling ear to ear, giggling maniacally, or bouncing around like a lunatic, for 90% of the movie; it almost seems that Kitty was mandated to down a greenie/red bull/wellbutrin cocktail before each take. This is such an overwhelming facet of her character that when she spent those few moments acting on the opposite end of the spectrum, I was thinking we could easily be in for a Miike "Audition" moment here (if this were a different type of movie). Now, that would have been AWESOME!
As it stands, this movie is definitely NOT AWESOME! It's just too silly, too predictable, and not well executed or well put together. It's an average movie at best. Didn't hate it, but can't ever see myself desiring to watch it again. I could see some people liking it up to a 6 or maybe a 6.5 or so, and others disliking it down to a 4 or thereabouts, but that should be about its range overall.
5 out of 10 stars for me.
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