Friday, February 3, 2017

Film Review: Man on High Heels (2014)

Man on High Heels (Review)
South Korea/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It is as entertaining as it is compelling."

Yoon Ji-wook (Cha Seung-won) is a hard-boiled detective who mercilessly pummels any criminal in his path. At heart, Ji-wook hides his desire to become a woman...

Man on High Heels is a surprising film. From the trailer, this film looks like a grim, hard-boiled action-drama. In reality, the film is a mixed-bag – which can be both good and bad. The plot follows Ji-wook, an effortlessly cool and highly-skilled detective. Under his rough, scar-riddled exterior, Ji-wook hides his desire to become a woman – a desire that has haunted him for years. He tries to quit his job, but a gang he destroyed is out for vengeance. So, he has to balance his old life while trying to acquire a new one. It's a very interesting film. Obviously, it's center themes are based on something that is still taboo in Hollywood blockbusters, so it's also original. It leads to a very blood climax and a compelling ending. It felt a bit underwhelming at first, but it still has me thinking so it must have worked.


Like I said, though, Man on High Heels is a mixed bag. This is both good and bad. It's not horrible, though. It just makes it a little inconsistent. Man on High Heels is a gritty crime drama about a man's personal demons – with some lighthearted humor sprinkled on top. It's often violent and poignant, only to slack off during the following scene. This is especially jarring if you were sold on the ultra-cool, slow-motion, action-packed trailer. I digress, though – not the worst thing ever, just a little inconsistent. I liked the focus on character, it really helped amplify its themes. The plot is interesting, always staying on its toes. And, the action – although a little over-the-top for a film grounded in reality – is great. If you like hand-to-hand combat, I think you'll enjoy the quick and bloody action sequences in this film.

Cha Seung-won is great as the leading man. He is effortlessly charismatic and versatile, delivering a great range of genuine emotions. Oh Jung-se and Esom also offer great supporting performances. Yes, there is some overacting here, but it didn't bother me. The film looked great. The music was also good – again, don't expect anything like the trailer. The film was written and directed by Jang Jin, who also helmed My Son and The Quiz Show Scandal. His direction was fine, creating plenty of thrills without sacrificing character. The writing was also great, especially considering the sensitive subject. I didn't think any of it was offense, but, what do I know? I think its focus on characters allowed the plot to flow naturally.

Overall, Man on High Heels is a very good movie. It's an original, violent, and thrilling crime-drama. It is as entertaining as it is compelling. There are some issues with its inconsistent mood, which can be jarring, and its ending isn't the best, but it is otherwise a great film. Check it out if you're looking for something new.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some nudity.

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