This film is an excellent example of latter-day Hong Kong cinema. Emulating and expanding upon Western methods of cinematography and pace,'Dance of a Dream' really shows off what filmmakers can do in Hong Kong. The cast is stellar: Andy Lau is magnificent and charming, able to command the audience's breathless attention. The comedic/dramatic dynamo that is Anita Mui shines as she pursues a seemingly unattainable dream beset with obstacles at every turn, alternately compelling laughter and hot tears with accomplished skill. Sandra Ng serves as a foil to Anita's character, exemplifying the ethical dilemma brought to Andy's dance instructor. There's no fighting, no guns or explosions, just a lot of dancing in the form of highly imaginative dance sequences and hot-blooded competition.
A lowly waitress at a fancy restaurant, Anita Mui's as Tina is inflamed with desire to learn the high art of ballroom dancing, especially after seeing Andy Lau's Namson perform at a fancy dinner. Poor but proud, she finds a way to attend Namson's tutelage and befriends the ragtag class practicing with her. Kam (Sandra Ng) is an ivory tower princess who merely wants to learn to dance so she may better impress her high society acquaintances. Kam gains a sense of humor through contact with Tina and their interplay is truly charming - Wai Keung Lau shows a temperate, confident hand at directing during one of the funniest scenes in the movie, as Kam and Tina privately discuss their respective "endowments". Anyone else could've made this mawkish and cheap, but it plays itself out with control and grace and is funnier for it. Finally, Namson is faced with the dilemma of keeping his low-scale dance studio and sliding-scale clientele versus gaining a more elite downtown studio in a beautiful building, sure to attract wealthy new patrons but rendering it inaccessible to the students he's come to care for.
For all the occasional slapstick and simplified plot dichotomy, 'Dance of a Dream' is still a passionate, engaging, mature body of work, on par with 'Mack the Knife', 'La Brassiere', and 'Sausalito'. This is to HK cinema what 'Ghost in the Shell' was to anime - a direct-line descendent, the latest evolution, and a new standard.