Asako in Ruby Shoes | aka Sunaebo (2000) Review

"Asako in Ruby Shoes" Hong Kong DVD Cover

"Asako in Ruby Shoes" Hong Kong DVD Cover

Director: E J-Yong
Producer: Koo Bon-Han, Tsuchida Masaki, Iwata Hitoshi
Cast: Lee Jeong-Jae, Misato Dachibana, Kim Gumija, Kim Min-Hee, Ren Osugi
Running Time: 115 min.

By Mlindber

Asako in Ruby Shoes is another one of those great films from Korea in a genre you’d normally hate. You know the type.

The movie is about a guy named U-in (Lee Jung-jae) from Korea, how much of a loser he is, and how much he longs for release from his dull life. He works in some kind of community bureau, doing dull work like making identification cards and handing out flyers. He also fancies himself a connoisseur of women (he’s a pervert), and soon has himself obsessed with an online model from Japan. Aya (Misato Tachibana) is equally distraught, and is adamant on killing herself because she’s run out of ideas on how to lead a normal life. She clings to her life even though she knows it has very little value, purchasing expensive shoes, and planning to kill herself (by holding her breath, as her grandfather did before her) on an international flight. She thus turns to a job in internet modeling, allowing her to enter U-in’s life through the computer.

The film is billed as some kind of romance, but it has spurts of absurd comedic situations, and very refreshing moments of humanity. It structures itself after the typical Korean melodrama, with lots of realism fused with moments of unexplainable, yet perfectly motivated and propagated stylism. Moments occur in the movie that definitely feel set up, but the main flow of the story works so well with the overarching themes of dejection and a lack of satisfaction of life. The film achieves a great balance, and there are so many sequences in it that are just set up brilliantly by the director/writer (E J Young). The only confusing plot point is the numb finger of the main character. It never seems to be resolved. The acting, though, was very good and completely spot-on. Lee Jung-jae gave an excellent, loser-riden performance. He seems to have the “innocence” and boy-like attitude a lonely twenty-something would seemingly have. Misato Tachibana is very charming and likeable, exerting again an innocence that one would expect from one in her situation.

Asako in Ruby Shoes is such a great film. It works on almost every angle it pursued. I would not hesitate recommending this to anyone. I’ve already watched it three times, and I can tell it will get many more plays in the future.

Mlindber’s Rating: 9/10

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