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4.8 out of 5 stars
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 9 December 2010
When I saw that the dvd was available on Amazon. I was very happy. I had heard that the film was great; much better than the American remake. My wife, who is Japanese was looking forward to being able to see a film that she had not seen in a long time ... and she still hasn't. This version has taken out 26 scenes that were in the original version which runs to 136 minutes; a full 22 minutes longer than the running time in the version supplied by Amazon (stated to be 114 minutes). Perhaps I am being unfair; but, I felt let down. I wanted to see the original cut, the one that won 14 Japanese Academy Awards when it was released, and this was not it. It would be nice if this kind of thing is made clear, then you know what to expect, but there was nothing to indicate that about 15 percent of the film had been cut, and the beginning had been radically altered.

I am NOT saying don't buy it. I am not saying that it is bad, it is too good for that, and I am sure that there are many out there who would like it in this version. But, if you want the original 136 minute film, you will have to look elsewhere. The two stars are more my disappointment at the missing 15 percent, and the changed beginning.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 2 September 2009
Although, admittedly I haven't seen the recent American re-make and dispite not wishing to dis-credit it without having seen it, I can't believe it would be possible for Hollywood to render a more delicate and delightful story than this, the original Japanese version.

As the synopsis of the story is freely available elsewhere, I won't explain, surfice to say, when I first went to see it the thought of a film about ballroom dancing didn't exactly enthrall me. I was interested in Japan and from previous Japanese films knew that they had the ability to appreciate human sensibilities and tell a story subtely, in a way that reflected the best taste of French cinema. In short, films with a sense of elegant charm.

I was not dissapointed as, from start to finish, I was drawn into the worlds the characters inhabited and felt their full range of emotions with them, all done in an understated way, without the need to spell everything out for the audience.

A very human story, with a perfectly judged balance of comedy entwined throughout. Re-watching the original still rewards, again and again.

As I have said, I haven't seen the American re-make, nor do I want to after seeing this. I wouldn't want clumbsy feet to spoil the perfect grace.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
"Shall We Dance?" is my favorite film of all time! Is that saying too much? No!! I'm a great admirer of Japan and Japanese culture, but I was caught totally unaware when I walked into the theater to see this movie. I ended up coming back 15 times, and was only stopped from seeing it again because the theatrical run ended. Then luckily, the movie came out on LaserDisc(not DVD), so I could watch it in better quality video at home. I also have the VHS for my bedroom VCR. The movie translates very well into home video--probably because it's such a warm and sweet-hearted movie. I can't think of another movie that approaches this one for pure ethereal beauty and pure enjoyment. The music is also so great. I won't give anything away but the music is a big part of the success of this movie, but in a very subtle way. I also love without reservation every actor in the film, and every character. From the beautiful, graceful lovely Mai and elegant Sugiyama-san, to Donny Burns-Latin Champ-impersonator Aoki-san and ballroom terror Toyoko-san, and warm hearted Tamako-sensei, you have to love the entire cast of characters. Also, the cinematography is out of this world, capturing the flow of ballroom excitement and beauty and also wistful scenes of Tokyo at night (make sure you watch the entire sequence of the exquisite closing credits at the end). Director and screenwriter Masayuki Suo deserves an honorary Academy Award for this creation of supreme perfection. Please tell your friends about this film, which proves that a sweethearted and beautiful work of art can be entertaining without the need for violence and profanity. I guarantee you won't be sorry to buy this video, and you'll join the thousands of fans worldwide who are obsessed and devoted to it, a film that can truly be termed a masterpiece. Be prepared to fall in love with ballroom dancing. (Europe is lucky to have this DVD being released. I can't wait till this DVD is released here in America, I can't wait!) Here's to discovering a priceless gem, and here's to love!
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54 of 61 people found the following review helpful
At long last, 'Shall We Dance?' is available in the UK. I LOVE this film for many reasons:

First, you can see what the ordinary Japanese semi-middle class family life is like. No guns or swords, no blood, no samurai or soldiers - this is a very cultural film about modern Japan.

Secondly, this film shows how much the Japanese people admire the British culture (in this film's case the ballroom dancing, sportsmanship, and Blackpool!). Incidentally, if you are learning Japanese, listen to how Tamako-sensei (the elderly female dance instructor) speaks. As well as speaks absolutely gently, she speaks very clearly with a beautiful accent of a traditional Japanese lady. So her Japanese would be a good example for the language learners too.

Koji Yakusho (Babel [DVD]) has proven that he is one of the most brilliant actors in Japan once again, and my favourite one is definitely Naoto Takenaka (Kitaro [DVD]), who plays a funny funny bloke who specialises Latin dance to fill the 'gap' in his everyday life and hopefully find a nice girl too.

FYI: I have already seen the Hollywood version of this film, but it's not the same thing at all. It's supposed to be a re-make of this Japanese original film, but, in my view, it's a little bit too 'Americanised' and almost feels like a different film. Maybe you can make your own judgement by watching the Japanese version? I'm sure you'll enjoy it!

Hope this helps!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 17 January 2009
I took up dance a few years ago, and like the hero of this film, I yearned to do it, but felt quite awkward about it. The film accurately portrays how dancing draws you in. You think you're doing it for one reason, but you soon find yourself dragged in a different direction.

The film is very Japanese, so you get lots of perspectives that reflect that society. This means it goes places you don't expect. I loved the authentic detail, the insight and the humour. It's romantic and realistic, which is a wonderful achievement - one of my top dance films!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 September 2011
The central character is a `wage slave'; work, home, eat, sleep, having just bought a house for his wife and teenage daughter outside the teeming metropolis of Tokyo. He spots a dance studio and wistful looking instructor from his commuter train. Eventually, he musters courage, gets off the train where the studio is, hesitates, then with diffidence, stumbles into the world of the waltz, quick-step and more. At the beginning, he hasn't a clue what he's doing. Meanwhile, a demonstration of the tango is first, exaggerated then poignant. His mood changes; he has something to lift him from the drudgery of his life. His wife becomes suspicious. She hires a private investigator. "He might be caught up in something weird" she suggests. Blackpool is acknowledged as the ballroom-competition capital of the dancing world. The film is tender, touching and well worth watching.

The impertinence of this DVD is to show the trailer to the American re-make of this title before the original Japanese film; extraordinary bad taste and sheer bad manners.

Ian Hunter.
Author of The Early Years
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 12 May 2004
Amazing that this hasn't been available up to now. A bored office worker signs up for ballroom classes after seeing a beautiful woman gazing out of the dance school window. Sweet joy as the cast of characters find their feet in a swirl of music, colour, warmth and humour. Something more universal than just the contrast between public/private faces in Japanese society (and you don't have to be into dancing either), this is pure celebration of humanity in all its quirkiness. I also loved the night shots of Tokyo.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 4 April 2010
I adore this film and am really disgusted that the version released here is nearly half an hour shorter than the one shown in Japan. If the DVD company ever looks at this site - PLEASE can we have the complete film. If the mutilated version is this good (and it is wonderful) how much better to have the whole thing.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2005
Nothing else like it.
Masayuki Suo's small masterpiece.
"Shall we dansu" and "Tampopo" are your must-have Japanese movies!
By the way, don't be confused by the unrelated hollywood (Richard Gere) movie of a similar title, or the 1930s Fred Astair movie "Shall we dance" (also unrelated). Enjoy!
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 17 September 2004
Those who think that Japanese movies are only horror and anime, just watch this film and be very surprised.It was an amazing film which meant a lot to saloon dance lovers and learners such as myself.It fills you with all kinds of good feelings .I watched it on tv and i am veryyy glad that i did.Don`t miss it, you don`t see this kind of movies so often
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