History : by its brutal methods and radical Yoon Ji-wook is perhaps the man most feared and respected, both among the gangsters in his own police force. It will, however, and in spite of himself, find himself mixed up in a conspiracy between the two brothers gangsters, themselves at war with police and government, each seeking to sit by their little ploys vicious, their domination on the other. In parallel, Yoon Ji-wook wants to become a woman.
So yes : MAN ON HIGH HEELS is a polar Korean transgender. POLAR. KOREAN. TRANSGENDER. Explanations.
POLAR – All the ingredients of a good action film charismatic (fights choreographed, shootings stylized) to multiple tracks and sub-plots (twists and retwists) are there, insurance to entertainment that, despite appearances, should not leave anyone in the dust. But, paradoxically, it means that the narrative of the film will be highly codified, tagged and… in yourself, little moose.
MAN ON HIGH HEELS loses here, a little personality – her tone polardeux general being copies of copies, both in the genre of Korean (Park Chan Wook, in which the tragedy takes source far in the past) that in the asian style, for the action scenes (John Woo, Johnnie To). Then there is the western influence, shall we say, in this quest to be able to very shakespearean, or in this magnitude & decadence of the mafia, any Scorsese-ienna. Despite these references a little too palpable, the energy pretty fast , MAN ON HIGH HEELS will bring us back always to the simple pleasure of being a spectator of a great entertainment.
And then if the movie works so well, it is mostly because it overlaps with a certain masestria the component polar to other aspects. It is there that it finds its own tone, even if it is, paradoxically, a trait quite common in Korean cinema.
KOREAN – definition of Korean cinema, is that it may just be nondescript. The mixture of tones within the same scene there is fantastic despite its improbability, from a comic burlesque, in a blink of an eye, pure action and manly, and then turning melodrama guimauvé, and that can end on a fantastic dark ; this kind of big difference is a recurring motif in Korean cinema, even within a single scene, and then consequently in the whole of the long film, giving some one will be really special – Bong Joon-ho or Park Chan Wook may be the representatives of the most obvious, with titles such as Memories of Murder or Old boy.
This definition of “Korean cinema” is a full on , MAN ON HIGH HEELS, beyond, of course, the nationality of the film. That said, if this movie and many others are so successful, this is not just through a desire to mix genres, but well, thanks to a management of the dosage and the pace appropriate. Dosage, management, and finally master of all proportions kept, of every kind. The Korean cinema is a cinema of the timing. Timing of the change of tone, of rhythm, of dynamic. MAN ON HIGH HEELS is a new example of a successful, in particular through the use and the treatment of the theme of transgender.
“Man On High Heels is a entertainment ultra-nag, the bearer of a message about sexual identity and self-acceptance. A mixture of fantastic genre, but ultimately very Korean. “
TRANSGENDER – it would have been, reading the pitch, saying that this issue would be dealt with lightly : just fuck the theme of transgender in a polar ? Korean and more ? But precisely, all the intelligence of the film is to incorporate it fully into his history. Whether it is existential questioning and identity of the protagonist, the immersion in this reality, Korean, sub-plots almost hitchcockiennes, or build a nemesis to the anti-hero, he is never to take the theme lightly. EVER. This is perhaps the greatest success of the film, and treating of identity and of relation to the other, without judgment or pretension, or soliciting but rather with a desire for entertainment as much as education. To go further on this issue, it is one of those very rare sights on the sexual identity that does not seek to put forward. Our colleague Peter talked about in his article on homosexuality on the screen : the movies, or homosexuality is not a way to claim something are very rare. Yet, is this not also a way of trivializing a subject still a little taboo, that not to put it in perspective ? According to me, MAN ON HIGH HEELS succeeds perfectly on this point. Only in seeking never to be contextualized politically the sexuality of its heroes, the film encouraged much more to reflect on the absurdity of the stigma. Awesome.
MAN ON HIGH HEELS also has other qualities independent of the three axes of reading we have chosen… As the excellence of the secondary characters, very well worked and with all their own senses – touching, even among the bad guys.
In the end, one of the characteristics of the Korean cinema it is precisely this mix of genres within a film, and more specifically the mixture of tones within the same scene. In this, we can quite imagine a film as charismatic, sleazy, pathetic, aesthetic, crass, funny and romantic at the same time, putting all those aspects in the service of an entertainment ultra-beefy bearer of a message about sexual identity and self-acceptance… Unlikely ? Yet it is exactly this that is MAN ON HIGH HEELS. To share with Almodovar, it was rarely seen mixture also successful at the cinema.
Your opinion ?
MAN ON HIGH HEELS has been awarded the grand prize and critic’s prize at the festival of the detective movie Beaune, edition 2016.
Reviewed in partnership with CanalSat and 13èmerue.
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