I saw you walk a foot above the earth and I remembered that was where I used to walk …

endless love kdrama

Love gives us a heightened consciousness through which to apprehend the world, but anger gives us a precise, detached perception of its own

Scott Spencer, Endless Love

Title
Endless Love (2014)
Genre
Action,   Crime,    Melodrama,    Romance
Written by
Na Yeon-sook
Directed by
Lee Hyun-jik
Starring
Hwang Jung-eum,    Ryu Soo-young,    Jung Kyung-ho,    Shim Hye-jin,    Jung Woong-in,    Cha In-pyo,    Jeon So-Min,    Kim Jun,    Bae Min-soo
Country of Origin
South Korea
Episodes
37

oh! … brief

A period-style kdrama following the life of Seo In-ae who tragically loses her mother as a young girl. She is raised by her aunt and a go-between two brothers who are friends of her family. The three children, Seo In-ae, Han Kwang-hoon, and Han Kwang-chul become embroiled in a plot of deception and power struggle from the 1970s to the 1990s, the era of political upheaval and economic turmoil in South Korea.

oh! … talks drama

Another melodrama that drove me almost to insanity with its plot twists and turns. You begin the drama believing it will be a tragic love triangle story but it takes you places no sane person should venture.

In reality, the story isn’t about In-ae, but rather the legacy of the “Iron Butterfly” and her lover Park Young-tae.

I cannot promise that this review will be untainted by spoilers. I can promise that this drama will make your toes curl in agony and weep rivers as you witness the depravity cruelly inflicted by a vengeful woman and her murderous lover.

Wronged by her husband, Min Hye-rin aka Iron Butterfly sets out to avenge Kim Geon-pyo’s illicit affair. She asks her lover Park Young-tae to get rid of her husband’s love and illegitimate child, Seo In-ae. Fortunately, In-ae escapes, but sadly her mother is gruesomely killed along with her aunt’s child, mistaken for In-Ae. The aunt, grandmother and In-Ae escape and start living with Han Gab-soo and his two sons Han Kwang-hoon and Han Kwang-chul. As they grow, a special bond is formed between the three children. Love blossoms between Kwang-hoon and In-Ae, even though Kwang-hoon is a determined scholar and studying hard to become successful. He dreams of becoming President of South Korea. A special bond between In-Ae and Kwang-chul also develops, but the bond puts everyone at risk as the two recklessly bring Park Young-tae into their lives.

A foolish errand brings about the death of Han Gab-soo and challenges the friendship and love between In-ae and the two brothers. In-ae witnesses the same man she had previously seen leaving her mother’s murder scene at the spot Han Gab-soo is last seen alive. Kwang-chul, against the advice of his brother, is determined to find the culprit responsible for his father’s mysterious death. He approaches the police and confesses to the part he played, but it’s too late.  He disappears after trying to rescue In-ae from police custody.

Following the funeral and cremation of Han Gab-soo, Kwang-hoon is forced to leave and enter the military. In-Ae continues her studies although angry at Kwang-hoon and believing Kwang-chul to be alive, which of course we later learn he is. Kwang-hoon runs into a top-ranked general while doing duty and this man decides to take Kwang-hoon under his wing. There is nothing innocent about his interest in Kwang-hoon as he immediately recognizes how intelligent and power-hungry Kwang-hoon truly is. He lays a trap to ensnare Kwang-hoon using his daughter and his promise of a political career.

In the meantime, In-Ae joins a resistance movement that vocally speaks out against the government. Through the devious mastermind of Park Young-tae, In-ae is arrested and severely tortured for writing and distributing anti-government flyers. Kwang-hoon abandons In-Ae and cuts his relationship with her entirely. In-Ae is sent to prison for 10 years.

Meanwhile, Kwang-chul has safely landed in Japan and becomes a street fighter by night and bartender by day to make a new life for himself. He runs into an influential Korean businessman who takes him under his wing after saving his life. He eventually returns to South Korea as his right-hand man. Little does he know the turmoil his relationship with this wealthy man will inevitably lead to.

This is just the start to the drama, there is a lot of action that follows. Murder, politicking, a marriage from hell, deception, further torture, rape and imprisonment. It’s mind-bending! The only character that stays true throughout the story from start to bitter end is Han Kwang-chul! Consistently loyal to In-ae and willing to risk his fortune and everything, including his life to protect her. He is the only character that knows what unconditional love is and while he is willing to live in the shadows, that cannot be forever. It saddened me that he did not unite with the woman he loved first and foremost.  In contrast, his brother while professing an endless love for In-ae, he is her ultimate betrayer. And intentional in his deception while he hungers for power, he is willing to cast everything and everyone aside, save the man who can fulfil his dream. It is so sickening to see this man driven like a madman towards destruction. How he ends up is fitting for the horrific way he treats those he claims to have loved. But fortunately, he is given the opportunity to become a better man.

Where and how the Iron Butterfly fits into the story, well you’ll have to watch to find out. Believe me, it’s worth it, even if you don’t like melodrama (like me) this one is worth the watch. The action and crime along with politicking makes it easier than straightforward melodrama. You may need breaks between episodes though. Be sure to keep Kleenex handy too. You’ll go from crying to wanting to stuff the Kleenex in your mouth to curb the cursing, I promise!

The cinematography was exceptional! The camera lenses captured some amazing background scenery and the locations offered awesome seaside and cityscape backdrops. The cameramen also focused on capturing the smallest details of the intimate nature of some scenes. I enjoyed watching the drama even more because of the great cinematography.

The action was astounding, and while stunt doubles were obviously used for scenes, you couldn’t really tell as the editing was masterful. I enjoyed the fight scenes, and there were many of them. The makeup for bruises etc. was good for the most part, but some of the blood was over the top. Getting punched in the face doesn’t always tear open a lip or make a nose or mouth bleed. I’d have gone merely with swelling and bruising than blood all the time. The choreography for all the fight scenes was impressive. Kwang-chul’s fighting in Japan was phenomenal!

While I loathe melodrama, I really couldn’t stop myself from watching this piece. It was addictive but at the same time frustrating! I need to take a break from melodramas for the next little while. Two kdrama watched close together and both of them uber-dramatic is more than my poor brain can handle!

The back story was strong and believable. The initial plot was well written and the various character’s narrative was well-thought out. I loved the idea of ‘good’ brother versus ‘bad’ brother, but I was hopelessly rooting for the ‘bad’ brother the entire time. As it happens, the so-called good brother turned out to be a mindlessly flawed man, while the so-called bad brother was the knight in shining armour who had a heart of gold. With this drama, the writing was so tight and the plot so well-thought out and written that it never derailed. It was drawn out a bit too long, okay, honestly, it was far too drawn out, but I understand that if you’re going to do a two or three season show it’s needed. I think the writer did an amazing job!

The cast was so-so for me. I loved many of the characters but was disappointed by many others.

So, let’s look at who I liked and who just didn’t cut it for me.

Min Hye-ring aka Iron Butterfly was the ruthless wife of the hapless Prime Minister. A devious power-hungry vengeful harridan. She was skilfully played by Shim Hye-jin. Whether plotting In-ae’s downfall or brutally manipulating her children or temporarily insane, Shim Hye-jin embodied her character without flaw. She was the Iron Butterfly. I never doubted her performance and while it wasn’t mesmerizing for obvious reasons, her performance will be a memorable one. I loathed her every breath!

Park Young-tae, for a murdering mastermind, was really an idiot. He missed all the clues to how he managed to get away with all the shit he got up to is mind-boggling! He was played by

Jung Wong-in who delivered a successful and believable performance. He wasn’t my favourite actor but he did a good job of displaying the maniacal murdering maniac he was. In the beginning, there is a switching of rings from left hand to the right, while not being obvious about it enough I guess for most people to notice it, it REALLY bothered me. In the murder of In-Ae’s mother scenes and flashbacks, the ring is on his left hand, but throughout the rest of the show, the ring is on his right hand. It’s a small thing I know, but this lack of attention to detail really bothers me! It’s not the actor’s fault of course. He follows direction from the director. Besides this one glaring oversight, he inhabited his vile character and every nasty expression and maniacal laugh. I would happily have purchased a gun, laid in wait at the bridge area where he meets people in secret and taken him out!

Kwang-hoon played by Ryu Soo-young was a good choice. He acted well in this role. He had the ability to cleverly mimic facial expressions with the clenching of his jaw and moving his ears. I’m not kidding go and watch how just moving his ears the way he does, changes his expression and makes you understand his displeasure. He starts out appearing to be this young man desperately in love with In-ae and then turns into a power-hungry monster. There were two flaws with Ryu Soo-young however. The first is the size of his mouth when he cries out. Go watch it or watch it again. When he falls to his knees as they recover his Father’s body from the ocean he bawls and his mouth is just HUGE! No kidding. I watched that scene numerous times because I couldn’t believe it. The second flaw was that I often felt devoid of feeling as he lacked real emotion as he delivered his performance. He was good at acting, but it felt contrived.  I didn’t feel he became his character, he just acted in it.

Hwang Jung-eum who played Sep In-ae was good sometimes and at other times not so good. I’m not sure if I came to this conclusion because her character frustrated me the most or if she lacked in acting in this role. I’d like to think it’s simply because her character frustrated me, but there were some issues I just couldn’t get my mind wrapped around. She’s an angry woman, angry because her mother was unjustly murdered. She verbalized her desire for revenge, but when she learns the truth behind the murder and the key players she doesn’t formalize a plan of any sort to take out the guilty, she just sort of meanders her way around to eventually get them. Yes, this is partly the writing of the story and direction from the director, but she only once or twice comes across as being so angry she would kill. And it’s never around her mother’s death or how she was horrifically betrayed by her first love. It’s strange! In fact, this character showed little real emotion aside from when she is being hurt. It just was weird, given the story. But, Hwang Jung-eum did a good job and I truly wanted her to find happiness, unfortunately, it’s not how I wanted it to turn out, but it was good enough I guess.

My absolute favourite in this drama was the character played by Jung Kyung-ho. WOW!!  This guy impresses me more with each drama he’s in. As Kwang-chul he was mesmerizing. I loved his early character development where he displayed a loving platonic friendship with his brother’s first love, but underneath you sense his undying devotion and love towards her. He also acted out his frustration well, so you understand distinctly the difference and his true feelings. I knew immediately that he loved In-ae and understood as he was living in his brother’s shadow he would never succeed in winning her love. Jung Kyung-ho was just incredible in this role! He was Kwang-chul, he inhabited the role, he became the supporter, the base from which In-ae could recover and survive. Without him, she would have become nothing. Jung Kyung-ho is such a natural actor. It doesn’t appear that he pushes himself in his roles, he always delivers! Consistently! And, it’s beautiful to watch! If you watch this drama for no other reason than Jung Kyung-ho as a leading role you won’t be disappointed!

Another key role in the General who rises to become the new President. Played by Cha In-pyo the General comes to life as a calculating and manipulative man. Cha In-pyo delivers a cool, calm, collected, and power-hungry man who willingly uses all the resources and people in his grasp to get to where he wants to be. Cha In-pyo portrays a one-track minded political mastermind with such determination it is scary how well-suited he is for the role. But, you never know exactly what the General is really plotting or thinking as he hides his emotions. And the camera captures every nuance delivered.

Kim Gun-pyo, In-ae’s biological father and Prime Minister was played by Jeong Dong-hwan. This character I struggled with. Firstly, I felt the acting was lazy and contrived. I didn’t believe he was a Prime Minister. He lacked gumption and attitude. Jeong Dong-hwan just didn’t deliver a believable character. He was never busy with government business, he just appeared to laze around his home doing nothing except dabbling in art and being manipulated by his wife. The acting was both as flat and excessive if that is even possible. I didn’t understand why so much attention was paid to this character when it would have been easy to overlook his role almost entirely, but for the fact that in the beginning, you don’t know if he ordered, committed, or desired his daughter’s death. It was in my humble opinion a wasted opportunity to have a stronger actor take his role and fully develop it. I was disappointed.

The supporting cast members were a combination of strong actors and actresses and others that were essential to the story and plots but didn’t add to outstanding performances. They were well chosen however and can’t be overlooked.

oh! … sidekicks

Two of my favourite characters were sidekicks.

Bae Min-soo who played Chile-sung was endearing in the delivery of the loyal friend to both In-ae and Kwang-chul. He portrayed a man wracked by guilt and driven to right the injustice to In-ae but also to correct the part he played in the incident leading to the murder of Kwang-chul’s father. Like Jung Kyung-ho he was exceptional in his supporting role and I really enjoyed the scenes where he wore his heart for the leading characters on his sleeve. It was a solid performance.

Kim Se-gyung was the sidekick I felt most compassion for. The biological daughter of the Iron Butterfly and her evil lover Park Tae-young, but also, the daughter of the Prime Minister (in name only). Caught in the trap with her biological parents, she ultimately wins the best man in the end, not that she’s fighting for him. Jeon So-min was remarkable in this role. She would, in my opinion, perhaps have been better suited to In-ae’s role, but she was remarkable playing sidekick to Kwang-chul. Like Kwang-chul Se-gyung was the only other character that understood the true meaning of unconditional love and chose to forsake her own desire to the benefit of the one she loved. She was also willing to sacrifice everything, including her own life, to protect and cherish the man she desired. Jeon So-min inhabited her character and we felt every heartache she did. Great job!

There were many hidden messages related to love in the drama, perhaps the most important one was the fact that if you love someone and they don’t reciprocate the feeling, you don’t need to abandon them entirely. It’s okay to love them from a distance and still support and help them when they need it. As long as your intention to support them from a distance is pure, carried out with an open heart and understanding that for it to be selfless you cannot expect anything in return.

oh! … that’s a wrap

I enjoyed this melodrama, even with the dramatic twists and plays. I will watch this again in the future, not near future as I need a break from all the emotional swings, but soon enough.

You’ll enjoy this kdrama if you’re a fan of Jung Kyung-ho and enjoy classic melodrama.

oh! … soundtrack

Endless Love

oh! … gallery

oh! … trailers

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