Review: Korean pop music steps up in ‘Make Your Move’

After the freak success of Psy’s “Gangnam Style” and its steady incursions into the Billboard charts, Korean pop music makes its biggest bid for mainstream American success yet with the forbidden-love dance movie “Make Your Move.”

Starring K-pop queen BoA (also known as Kwon Boa and Kwon Bo-ah) and showcasing the fashion, music and romantic-comedy tropes of the Korean New Wave, writer-director Duane Adler’s film is a celebration of cultural hybridization. Its core dance styles are a wonderfully frenetic fusion of tap and hip-hop and a truly novel blend of Japanese taiko drumming and K-pop girl-group choreography.

Whenever actor Derek Hough and BoA stop leaping and twirling, though, “Make Your Move” is an underwritten mess. Just released from prison, Donny (Hough) skips out on parole in his native New Orleans to dance at the Brooklyn club of his foster brother (Wesley Jonathan). In an adorable meet-cute, Donny introduces himself to Aya (BoA) by challenging her to an impromptu dance-off on top of a bar. Imagine Fred and Ginger tapping under strobe lights in club gear.


Visa issues and the preexisting rivalry between Donny’s and Aya’s brothers threaten their nascent romance. It’s difficult to get invested in their relationship, though, when both characters are scrubbed free of personality. BoA’s screen debut is charmless, and the sass her character is supposed to evince comes solely from the failing grade she gives Donny at the end of a perfectly pleasant night.


“Make Your Move”

MPAA rating: PG-13 for language, sexuality and brief violence

Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes.

Playing: In select theaters.