Released in April 2004 in Korea, the movie premiered in North America at the New York Asian Film Festival (http://www.subwaycinema.com) on June 22. In the tradition of the all time dance classic, 'Strictly Ballroom (1992)', and perhaps more akin to the satirical aspect of the more recent 'Shall We Dance (1996)', 'Baram' tells the story of an ordinary thirty-some Korean male, whose accidental passion for ballroom dancing brought him afar from his otherwise painfully ordinary life. Yes, it does sounds familiar to all those who loved the Japanese hit movie 'Shall We Dance (1996)', which is about an awkward middle aged white-collar male who stumbled upon a new passion; however, Baram creates an entirely different, sharp, new, and twisted edge to the dance scene, which could only be appreciated with some understanding of the Korean subculture, the seedy, behind-the-scene world of the so-called 'cabarets' and gigolos (called 'Jaebi' in Korean slang).
This directorial debut of Park, Jeong-Woo, Korea's current 'hot commodity' due to his sharp and witty screenplays of many recent comedy hits ('Attack the Gas Station' 'Kick the Moon' 'Breakout'), is a wickedly funny, and gently touching film, with trendy and candid camera work that characterize the rising Korean cinematic 'new-wave' movement. Notable is the fact that this is the first Korean movie ever made about dance (in the modern world), and Park succeeds in delivering a cinematic introduction to the Korean 'dance scene'. Baram is also quite successful as a social satire, criticizing the way in which social norms and misconceptions in a conservative society could lead innocent passion into something else altogether. The acting is at times contrived, but somehow believable, and the twirling dance steps of the actors themselves (after six months of training!) are so candidly captured, that if you have the least penchant for any kind of dance, you'll find yourself humming to the familiar tunes and discreetly trying out some of those steps on the sidewalk on your way home.
Despite the subject, there is no nudity a cinematic triumph in its own right (!) a must-see for all! 9/10