The Fangirls’ Movie Review: Swing Kids

The Fangirl’s went to the theater to see the tap dancing war movie Swing Kids. Come find out if it tapped it’s way into our hearts in this week’s movie review.

This review has a some spoilers.

TRAILER:

SYNOPSIS:

In this swinging musical drama set during the Korean War, the soldiers at a POW camp plan a tap show to distract both themselves and the prisoners from the hardships of war. Led by a former Broadway dancer and a rebellious North Korean soldier, the band of prisoners find a new sense of freedom in dancing. (WellgoUSA)

THE PLOT

Kmuse: This movie is not about the love of tap dancing… well, it is but not at the core. What it really tries to express, via dancing, is trying to escape ideologies. It’s about finding the commonality of humanity but at the same time not being able to escape the path your political decisions have set you on. It was a story that really worked for me and the beautiful dancing and music was a bonus. I will recommend maybe doing a tiny search into the history of the Korean War so you can understand the importance of all the various factions. It will make the story resonate deeper in my opinion if you have some context to fall back on.

MiataMama: I watched this movie in the theater, in Korea, and so I didn’t get the benefit of having subs. Thankfully, there was a copious amount of English used, and I was able to piece most of the story together well enough. Sadly my basic Korean skills were of no use when it came to translating the North Korean accent that was used by Do Kyung Soo’s character. All that to say, the more subtle nuances of the plot went over my head and the dancing and music were really the highlight for me! If I had done a bit of prior research on that time period in Korea, I probably would have understood significantly more. I definitely second, Kmuse’s recommendation to brush up on your history before watching!

Drama Geek: Whoa boy, is this movie packed with so much more than tap dancing. But the love of dancing was a huge thread that brought different characters from all sides of the fight together. Through their common love they were able to find common struggle, and humanity in each other. By the end, they were all the family that some of them had left.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Kmuse: The cinematography in this movie is amazing. The dance scenes blew my mind and I was totally connected into the action the whole time. I love how the director films movement and afterwords I was left with a ton of memorable images to ponder over. One of my favorite scenes is the one below which has two of our dancers trying to escape their emotional/physical cages through dance.

MiataMama: I was completely immersed in this movie. Throughout, I rode a roller coaster of emotions– from sunny moments, lost in dance, to the dark and gritty moments, showcasing the reality of wartime. There were A LOT of feels packed into just 2 hours and 13 minutes!

Drama Geek: The director is a genius. We were taken on a journey from moment one, and every scene was drenched in emotion. The scene below really does showcase how perfect the camera was able to shape the story. You also have to give major props to the editing department.

CHARACTER OBSERVATIONS

Kmuse: Everyone was so memorable. Loved every character and I was totally invested in all of their various stories.

MiataMama: Every character was developed SO well! By the end, I felt such a connection to each member of the rag-tag dance troop family, that the ending hit me like a K-drama white truck of doom. I kind of wish this story had been in drama format, so we could have spent more time with everyone- I loved them all! Please pardon me, as I take a moment to gush about Do Kyung Soo. I have recently watched him in several dramas, in addition to the Swing Kids movie, and am blown away by his rapidly developing, and fantastic, acting skill. In addition, his ability to pick up tap dance (a new-to-him dance style) in such a short amount of time, and perform so masterfully, was VERY impressive and a delight to watch!

Drama Geek: I was really impressed with each character, and not just the ones in the dance troop. Jackson, played by Jared Grimes, was one of the most interesting characters to me. My experience with foreigners in Korean dramas and movies is that they are very two dimensional. Jackson was given such depth and nuance, and Jared played him with a beautiful elegance that really shone through in his dance numbers. I loved every scene he was in with Kyung Soo. They really felt like they had a wonderful bond. I also want to praise Park Hye Soo. She debuted in 2015 and is extremely talented. She was the quiet new roommate in Hello, My Twenties then followed that up with a lead role My Shy Boss which many people thought she wasn’t ready for. She sings, dances, speaks English really well, and did such a great job in this role that I’m pretty sure she can handle whatever dramaland throws at her next.

OVERALL REACTION

Kmuse: I 100% recommend watching this movie. While it does have some very dark subject matter and moments, I found it fascinating to watch people trying to make connections and have dreams in the worst of times. It was truly a wonderful film.

MiataMama: I will DEFINITELY be watching again, when it comes to the small screen with subs! The acting, the dancing, the music, the history…. the dancing… SO GOOD!!! Don’t miss out drama fans!

Drama Geek: Can I please watch it again right now? There were so many scenes that stuck with me as I left the theater that I almost wished I could sit back down and really let all of it settle. Run and see it now, if it’s still in theaters, and if not, grab it up when it comes out on video.

Til our next movie adventure,

The Fangirls

Dramas with a Side of Kimchi

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6 thoughts on “The Fangirls’ Movie Review: Swing Kids

  1. I agree that the dancing was terrific, and D.O. was great as always, but the anachronistic music choices (Beatles, David Bowie/Freddie Mercury in 1950? Really?) and the uneven tone of the movie was disappointing to me. D.O. deserves better than this film.

  2. Thank you for this review. I’ve been waiting for the movie to come to my country to watch it. Ok, this question may lead to too big a spoiler, but the ending being like a kdrama truck of doom – it wasn’t a happy ending? Not that it has to be, but the promos were all about how energetic and uplifting it was, so . . . ?

        • Ok, I watched it . . . I thought the message came through strong and clear about ideology, and I loved the dancing and passion, but I thought the ending (after the Christmas show) was excessive . . . truck of doom summarises it well. Ah, i knew what was up the minute they talked/ joked about touring. . . The epilogue was lovely, though.

  3. I didn’t want to cry this time. I’m a strong woman! But still I cried because too proud of them. Fucking ideology! Seriously I’ll do the same I have my own belief. Even it’s not as beautiful as everyone want to be it bring the meaningful happiness…

    This movie is so meaningful as that 😭

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