Take these broken wings and learn to fly again!

angel eyes

Unconditional love is not based on the performance of the receiver, but on the character of the giver

Jack Frost

Title
Angel Eyes (2014)
Genre
Family, Melodrama, Romance
Written by
Yoon Ji-ryun
Directed by
Park Shin-woo
Country of Origin
South Korea
Episodes
20

oh! … brief

This kdrama follows the life of a young woman from late-teens into adulthood. Blinded at a young age following a tragic accident in which she loses her mother, she lives alone sad and neglected. Until she meets a young man and falls in love. Unfortunately, another tragic event happens to the man’s family and they are separated.

oh! … talks drama

I died a thousand deaths watching this drama. I laughed, cried, got angry, cursed, and then started the emotional roller-coaster all over again. There was too much melodrama and it will be hard to not give away spoilers, but I’ll try, as giving away the story and plots is typically not my style.

So where to start?

How about the soundtrack for a change?

While the lyrics of the songs weren’t grammatically accurate, the fact that most of the soundtrack is English was a brilliant ploy by the musical director. It makes me believe that the industry in South Korea is starting to understand that they have a huge and growing international audience and much change some of what they are doing in order to appeal and stay relevant to them. I haven’t yet downloaded the original soundtrack but it’s on my playlist on Spotify and below for your enjoyment.

The cinematography was exceptional! You only had to witness one or two of the medical procedures captured in the drama to understand that they were close replicas of actual procedures carried out in real-life situations. It was quite impressive and somebody did their homework to make these operations appear as realistically as the budget would allow. But, the cinematography also captured all the facial expressions of the actors and actresses, even the minute details on their faces were captured. It was truly beautiful to watch the characters come to life through the cameras’ lenses.

The story got off to a good start. It was totally believable that a tunnel collapse would cause multiple motor vehicle collisions and death. And it was another good ploy to have the lives of the two leads so intricately intertwined. But, the plots went crazy following the male lead’s return. It was mind-boggling how absurd the second-time-around became. I cursed the writer many times for drawing out the story with obscene twists. It was quite infuriating.

I understood that at the heart of the writer’s story was an effort to show the extent parents will go in their unconditional love for their children, but, the extremes were abusive in this kdrama. A better story could have been written that didn’t involve such wanton displays of control and power. It was truly sickening. Many will likely say that this is a success for the writer to have someone with this thinking because then the reality of the drama was real. I disagree. Kdrama, such as this one, are disappointing with the uber-melodrama. I struggled to watch this to its completion. The only reason I did finish it was because the cast was so good and so entrenched in their characters. I also, while knowing the outcome would eventually be a good one, had to know what happened in the end. But, I was miserably disappointed. I still believe that the story could have been written with realistic plot twists and life situations to make it more enjoyable. No kudos to the writer this time!

Cast-wise? The actors and actresses that played the younger cast did a great job of developing the love story. In particular, Kang Ha-neul who played young Park Dong-Joo was amazing. He made me think of my first love and all the silly immature emotions and awkwardness that he displayed. He was a perfect choice for the role. Nam Ji-hyun who played young Yoon Soo-wan was equally skilled at setting up the rude, arrogant, angry and slightly selfish and self-centred lost girl. Both characters were developed strongly laying a solid foundation for the adult story that would come.

The adult cast main characters were phenomenal given that the writing of the script and the plot twists were so despicable.

Yoon Jae-beom was Soo-Wan’s distant father. A disciplined Chief in a busy not-for-profit hospital that he runs, he is successful and a kind man at heart, but he has a misplaced sense of duty when it comes to his daughter. As any parent, he wants the best for his child, but, he takes unconditional love for his child to a frightening level. The loss of his wife during the tragic incident in the tunnel leads him down a dark path of alcoholism and ultimately, he betrays his daughter’s happiness with futile efforts to keep her separated from the one thing that is best for her. Played by Jung Jin-young who’s acting at times was flat, the character was flawed, and not only because of the nature of the man he was portraying but also because the acting was not of a good standard in my opinion. He is of course, central to the obscene plot twists.

Oh-Young-ji is a Board Member of the hospital, a surgeon, and mother to Kang-Ji-woon. She is a power-hungry, arrogant manipulator and spiteful to everyone around her except her son and Jae-beom. She believes Jae-beom will elevate her son’s status if he hurries the marriage between her son and his daughter. She is the key person to all the horrendous on-goings in the drama. I hated her before I even realised who she was and what she had done. Jung Ae-ri who plays Young-ji did a fair job with her character if she convinced me enough to hate her. But much like Jung Ji-young, I found her acting flat a lot of the time. She was delivering lines and while the delivery was fair, her acting was not.

In contrast to the two bad parents, Yoo Jung-hwa, who’s husband sacrificed his life trying to save Soo-Wan’s mother’s life during the tunnel incident, is the opposite. She displays exceptional wisdom and parenting skills. Even while she struggles to care for her own two children, she opens her home and her heart to love a motherless teen. She is warm and devoted and shares a special bond with her son Park Dong-joo. Like her husband, she is willing to give up her life to protect her children, including Soo-wan. Kim Yeo-jin who played this role was outstanding. She brought her character to life with great skill and understanding of what her character was supposed to bring to the story. She was believable as a woman who could become a surrogate mother to a child who lost her own. And she allowed the audience to firmly believe in unconditional love. It was sad that as a character she was lost far too early in the story.

Kang Ji-woon is a neurosurgeon and one who has little ambition but who is forced to achieve by his hateful mother. He is a nice guy and you only realise exactly how nice a guy he is at the end of the story. But, he also plays a part in trying desperately to force himself into Soo-wan’s life, even though he was once central to her new-found happiness. I guess he could be respected as he consistently waits for a decision from Soo-wan and for once he doesn’t devise evil plots to revenge her or the man she loves. Kim Ji-seok was a good choice for this role. He has a kindness about his face so that came through even more so in his character. He delivered a great performance and his acting was skilled. From happy-go-lucky friendly doctor to wounded ex-lover and finally to loyal friend, he played each beautifully! I liked him even though I didn’t want to.

Adult Yoon Soo-wan is different to when she was younger. She is no longer arrogant but mellowed and matured. She is forlorn, though, even as she is energetic and wanting to do her best to help people. She is still loveable and strong-willed, determined to live the life she’s been given and relishing her opportunity at second-sight. Ku Hye-sun who plays this Yoon Soo-wan is remarkable. She embodied her character and displays her feelings with raw, organic emotion. When her character struggles, we struggle with her. Unfortunately, the frustrating plot twists and turns make you want to stand up and shout at the top of your lungs at her stupidity. Ku Hye-sun delivered her character, for worse and better, exactly as she should have done.

Dylan Park, aka, Park Dong-joo as an adult is a distinguished surgeon of some renown. He has grown to be a kind and gentle man exactly as his mother would have wished him to become. He returns to try and locate his first love (twelve years later), only to be torn between keeping himself secret and honouring an agreement with Soo-wan’s father. Lee Sang-yoon masters this character. He delivers every emotion from distant frenemy to adoring and loving first love. And man! His dimples! But we’re talking about his character and not himself *sigh*. Of all the characters played, Lee Sang-yoon is the one I most believed in. He became Dong-joo. He didn’t perform in this role, he was his character. There is one scene that sticks out in my mind for the brilliance of his performance and it will seem strange, but, when he is holding the baby in the hospital that he helped saved and coos to him, that was just so natural. I don’t know if Lee Sang-yoon is a parent or not, likely he is, but this tender moment was exceptional! But, it wasn’t the only time he was exceptional in delivering his performance.

The on-screen chemistry between the two leads was breathtaking

As much as I don’t like melodrama, this is one that should be watched because the lead characters really pulled the story together. And the supporting actors and actresses were diligent in helping the story come together so well.

The story is bitter-sweet with far more bitterness than sweet – you’re warned!

And it begs the question, “What would you do if you were Soo-wan? I am a risk-taker by nature. I would be the first to throw caution to the wind, grab my love and run as far away as possible to escape the evil manipulations of everyone around me. I cannot stand being manipulated or having to manipulate others and I can be selfish enough to abandon a father who betrayed me more than once as a child. A man who left me, blind and alone, to fend for myself. I wouldn’t hesitate, not even out of a misguided sense of duty or responsibility. Perhaps it’s a good thing I’m not Korean!

If I had been the writer of this drama, I would have wrapped things up shortly after episode 13. This was a good spot to take the drama in a different direction. In the face of the reality of their lives and those around them, both could find balance and love in each other. There was no need for seven more episodes of horror, anguish and heartache. Silly writer!

There is a saying and it’s mentioned in the drama how love should not be painful. But, love can hurt! Should it? No! While we want to this to be true, perhaps foolishly so, it’s, in fact, untrue. As humans, by nature, we bump into each other and against one another all the time. Especially those that we love the most. We stumble and fall, making mistakes along the way, that is part of life. And in doing so, we cause those we love hurt and heartache, mostly unintentional, sometimes intentional. Sometimes we will even sabotage our relationships to preserve ourselves or others. That is the sad reality.

This drama also has hidden messaging around self-loathing and why it is important to be a whole healthy person to enter a relationship. Both leads are broken and wounded by the situation created by two selfish parents. Dong-joo understands that he needs to take the time to heal his broken heart and then has to learn patience and sacrifice to allow Soo-wan to do the same. In being healed they are better individually and healthier together as a couple.

Which leads me to something I firmly believe. Unconditional love for your child is no excuse to commit a crime. That is not unconditional love, that is not even love. The two parents committing crimes in this drama were not trying to protect their children out of some unwise sense of duty, they were protecting their own dignity and flaws. The words of character Jong-Hwa ring true, “While knitting thread by thread, you think of that person. Even when your attention wanders for a moment as if repenting for a wayward heart. You have to unravel it from the place it went wrong and restart from that place.” How right she is! It’s too bad she did not survive to teach the two wayward parents their wrongs!

And lastly, I’ve never been a believer in returning to rekindle love. During this drama, I thought about the countless loves over my life and two or three relationships could have easily been rekindled but I refused. Not because I couldn’t love the person again. Not because of the pain felt during the relationship or any situation surrounding it because I’ve always tried my best to end each relationship on a positive note. This drama made me question my thinking and belief that the past is the past and best left well alone. But, having said that, I don’t think any of my relationships are one that I treasured enough to want to rekindle it anyway. I haven’t experienced the kind of love that exists only in drama and film. Have you?

oh! … sidekick

While there were many sidekicks in this drama, e.g. Kim Woo-chul played by Kwon Hae-hyo, Park Hye-joo played by Yoon Ye-joo, or Teddy Seo played by Seung-ri, my favourite, of course, was Cha Min Soo played by Hyun Jyu-Ni. She was the breath of fresh air that this drama needed. A level-headed detective searching for the culprit of Jung-Hwa’s accident which draws her into the bigger cover-up story. Hyun Jyu-Ni delivered a dazzling performance in maintaining the cool, calm and collected best friend to Soo-wan and supportive sounding board to both Dong-joo and Ji-woon. Her ability to maintain neutral ground allowed her to be the glue that held the show together in my opinion. I was very impressed and look forward to seeing what her future acting brings.

oh! … that’s a wrap

In the end, this bittersweet love story is a poignant glance at the second chance at love and life. The two leads keep turning to each other notwithstanding the hardships suffered and the chaos and heartache being together brought them.

This kdrama was one of the hardest for me to watch so far, there was too much melodrama with the plot and story and I’m not a melodrama fan.

However, if you decide to watch this, you will experience every emotion, so be prepared to run the gamut.

The acting was outstanding and because of that fact alone, I would watch this again. I might skip through parts that were unbearably drawn out, but I’d still watch it again. It’s definitely a melodrama classic.

oh! … soundtrack

Angel Eye’s

 

oh! … gallery

oh! … trailers

 

Written by