It's 1958 and when her dad's job means the family have to move to Cuba Katey Miller (Romola Garai - Having You) finds herself in a world of political unrest and living in a swanky hotel. It is in the hotel where she first meets local Javier Suarez (Diego Luna - Rogue One), a waiter, and when she then sees him dancing in the town square ends up befriending him. Unfortunately being friends leads to Javier being fired and to make amends Katey persuades him to partner her in a dancing competition at the local Palace Club. Secretly meeting to practice they find themselves falling in love, but when Katey's parents discover she has been seeing Javier they are less than impressed and with political unrest making life unsafe it maybe that love will be short.
"Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights" is the "Tokyo Drift" of the dance movie world, they've taken a story, one which is loosely based on the life of producer JoAnn Fregalette Jansen, and then branded it as a "Dirty Dancing" sequel, persuading Patrick Swayze to return for a cameo because it guaranteed interest. But it is a mistake as whilst it is a dance movie, with similar themes to "Dirty Dancing", it forces you to compare and in comparison "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights" is weak. It doesn't help that it tries too hard to be comparable from an opening narration from Katey which mirrors Baby's to the son of her father's boss being keen on Katey a bit like Neil Kellerman being keen on Baby in the original.
And to be honest whilst the storyline to "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights" focuses on Katey falling for local waiter Javier, and we get the back drop of political unrest in Cuba, the theme of the movie is still the same, that of social divide. Once again we have Katey keeping her relationship to Javier a secret because he is from a lower class than her family and when her parents discover they are not happy to discover not only that she has been lying but also dating someone below themselves. The irony is that it's not a bad storyline, not by any means original but because the movie has been turned into "Dirty Dancing 2" it feels even more unoriginal.
And I could continue because whilst we have different scenes including minor scenes of political unrest everything builds to a predictable ending, not only when it comes to the romance but also the dancing. Talking of which unfortunately when it comes to dancing chemistry there is little between actors Diego Luna and Romola Garai and it makes all the dancing and training feel too choreographed. The dancing side also gives us the one real connection to "Dirty Dancing" and that is a cameo from Patrick Swayze as a dance teacher who specialises in the Mambo. Now from what I watched Swayze's character is never called Johnny Castle but it is so obvious who he is supposed to be.
What this all boils down to is that "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights" is not a good movie and whilst turning this story into a sequel to "Dirty Dancing" was a huge mistake it does have other flaws which drag it down. It's not completely terrible and worth watching just for the great soundtrack more than anything else.