Man on High Heels – Movie Review


Country of origin: S. Korea

Date of release: June 3, 2014

Movie duration: 2 hours, 5 minutes

Cast: Cha Seung-won, Lee Som, Go Gyeong-pyo, Oh Jung-se, Ahn Kil-kang, Lee Yong-nyeo


Ji Wook is a cold-blooded detective who would brutally assault and stop at nothing to catch criminals. However, despite his perfectly masculine appearance, Ji Wook struggles with a secret desire to be a woman. At last, he decides to get a sex change. However, a gang Ji Wook had brutally arrested by force plots revenge against him. While he resigns and secretly dreams of transforming into a real woman, people close to him get caught up in a conspiracy and killed. When the one person he must protect, ‘Jang Mi’, also falls in danger, Ji Wook faces a crossroads in making his choice.

Personal rating: 8.5/10


This movie struck me emotionally so it’s a little difficult to look at it as a whole and weigh its cons and pros. It’s one of those movies that touch your heart and resonate with you that you just tell your brain to shut up when it brings up things you didn’t like about it.

It’s like the plot was a mere ornament for the heart of this movie: the story of  a woman trapped in a man’s body. No matter how you change the setting and characters, the story is the same, and that universality is the best thing about ‘Man on High Heels’.

Cha Seung-won, Cha Seung-won. Oh, man. This was not my first time seeing him pull a great performance, but I find myself struggling for words to describe what he did with a hit-or-miss role like playing Ji-wook. Perhaps another actor would not have managed the subtlety and nuance of a "manly" man with an inner woman, or given the character the perfect shade of a vulnerable and feminine aura. No matter what you think about transgender people, you would just be pulled in to sympathize and feel for Ji-wook’s deep-set longing. By the movie’s end, I fully bought Cha Seung-won’s character and believed the conflict of what he is vs. what he wants to be.

The directing and camera work was spot-on and handled with finesse, and it makes sense since the director wrote the script and channeled his vision. I loved the parts unspoken in a scene, when the camera would show us instead. I can’t really recall the music but I think it was mostly instrumental and most scenes were big on natural sounds.

Lastly, I’m going to avoid talking about the ending because it would definitely include spoilers but I just want to say that it made sense since the whole movie was leading up to this. Not that I’m happy, but I’m at peace with it.

Warning: Right. Just be aware that there are lots of violent scenes that veered a little on gore at times. I cringed so much but I’m just averse to seeing blood and stabbings on screen.



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