Love At Its Finest Through Angel Eyes: An Overall Review.

Angel Eyes (2014)
Angel Eyes (2014)

So I did the usual Google sleuthing and found more dissatisfaction online about Angel Eyes than raves, understandably of course but geez some people are unfairly turning others away from the show, thus prompting me to follow-up on my earlier spazzing here and here, with an overall review. You know, I like Angel Eyes. A lot. While I’m still not sure if it’s a keeper, it is easily watchable and I know I will definitely re-watch it. In fact when I finished the last episode two weeks ago, I watched it again two nights later to confirm the closure – I won’t spoil it but yes I’d even enjoyed the last episode, ending included. You know that’s rare when it comes to Kdramas and endings, so even though the drama did meander in the middle, I appreciate that the ending stayed true to the show’s original feel.

Admittedly this show isn’t perfect, but it had its moments. If you were to ask me if Angel Eyes is worth watching, my answer is easily a yes. Let’s backtrack and smooth the creases together.

At Its Finest 

Angel Eyes episode 2

Episodes one and half of two, bar none, were the best of Angel Eyes‘ entire run. The childhood portion of this show was so impeccably done and extremely well-acted by up-and-comers Kang Ha Neul and Nam Ji Hyun. What struck me most is how they convinced me that this isn’t just puppy love but one for the ages, truly the definition of one-true pairing, by literally breathing life to their characters Park Dong Joo and Yoon Soo Wan respectively through their portrayal of the innocence, heady chemistry, and growth of their characters and devotion towards each other – all in the span of 120 minutes. I know, I know – we’ve heard the first love cliché too many times in Kdramas that an automatic groan is our response but trust me on this: watch them. These two episodes were so well-done that they’re a class of their own and can (should) be watched separately from the rest of the show.

Alternatively, just read my first impression because I think I basically praised them nonstop there, ha.

Apart from the chemistry between our young leads who carried the show with so much nuance, heart and love towards each other, the cinematography of the first two episodes were pitch-perfect and drop-dead gorgeous. I remember coming across gifs of the episodes on Tumblr and I ended up just staring at them in awe, before finally relenting to give the show a go. The rest of the show is also a sight to behold but it’s clear that having more time matters – the crisp quality of the first two episodes was Angel Eyes at its visual finest. No doubt this director is mighty talented.

Credit must also be given to the actress who played Miss Jung Hwa because her character was the heart and soul of the show from beginning to end and had a limited actress played this character, I don’t think the end result and reception would’ve been the same. I loved her, all of her – her motherly gestures, her warmth, her fighting spirit and above all, her kindness. Love, love her. All hail the awesome Kim Yeo Jin!

The writing of this show unfortunately did not hold throughout its run but in my opinion, the writer did no wrong when it comes to the romance, namely the budding romance, and childhood portion (…up until the part where drama happens). What I appreciate the most is that she trusted her characters to react to the turn-of-events and to each other – it’s like she paved the way and painted the landscape but allowed them to freely fill in the details – and bless the casting team for picking Kang Ha Neul and Nam Ji Hyun because the result is Angel Eyes at its finest.

The Finer Prints 

Angel Eyes ep10_5

Though they did not carry the show and their characters with the same piercing intensity and heart as their younger counterparts, Lee Sang Yoon and Goo Hye Sun undoubtedly brought their A-games and chemistry – dude, it crackled. The very air sizzled with tension both of the sexual and cute kinds – take your pick. You have to watch it to believe it; they were like the cutest fluffy bunnies when together but at the same time, the sexual tension was not absent lest we forget that they’re 30-something adults. I didn’t. Ahem.

I was actually unfamiliar with Lee Sang Yoon‘s acting but he has effortlessly converted me into his fan for life through this show alone. Those dimples! In my opinion Park Dong Joo was meant for him because he portrayed Dong Joo’s boyish nature and manly aura so organically – part boy, all man. Mmm.

On the other hand, rejoice because Goo Hye Sun has improved folks! By leaps and bounds! I’m not going to try to guess why (theories out there include it’s the age i.e. having settled comfortably in her 30s, the right team and character etc) cos what matters most to me is that she delivered, period. I admit the transition was not seamless since like most everyone, it took me some time to buy the transition from Nam Ji Hyun to Goo Hye Sun especially since the former really killed it with her portrayal of Soo Wan whereas the latter started off with lots of awkward dead-fish eye expressions but by episode 6 or so, Goo Hye Sun really melded into her role – I sensed that she was there, all there, in her scenes and she continued to impress me to the end.

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 12.01.24 AM

The chemistry between the two carried the show and really anchored it, especially in the dwindling middle i.e. where nothing really happened. More than that though is the devotion they have towards each other, which they maintained until the end that really touched me and had me rooting for them. It’s not just first love or love alone because their bond truly and sincerely runs deeper than that – I call it devotion – that this is one case where I knew, even when they were apart, that they would eventually find their way back to each other’s arms, always.

“He came before you and everyone else! We were us before anything or anyone.” Aye.

One might point out (and argue) that their romance was old-fashioned and too saccharine sweet which I don’t deny, but you know why the hell not? To be honest I find Dong Joo to be such a romantic but he was such a swoon worthy romantic and totally unflinching in his love towards Soo Wan that I just … melt. They’re like one of those couples who’ll grow old together and stay just as in love in their 80s as they were in their 20s – so, so cute. Their kisses and hugs were like the most precious – to each other. That’s the best part – not to the audience or anyone else but to each other, first and foremost. No matter how great and perfect the second lead was, I knew he never stood a chance between these two.

Some Rough Edges 

Angel Eyes is a show that fell victim to poor writing. It’s not a total lost cause but it had everything else right going for it: perfect casting, skilled directing, a pleasing soundtrack and even the right season to complement as backdrop. Unfortunately, the writing could not sustain the show throughout its 20-episode run no thanks to the wafer-thin plot conflicts which include lots of tears, mediocre EMT cases that were supposedly of grave importance, medical misconducts and unnecessary separation angst. I honestly feel like the show would’ve fared better had it been 12 or 16 episodes because then the imperfections wouldn’t have been so glaring. It would’ve been short and very, very sweet.

It’s not just the plot that fell victim to poor writing, the side characters and antagonists were all under-developed and mostly one-dimensional, which is such a shame because they had a solid team of actors. Seungri of BIGBANG was cute and provided much of the comic relief but let’s be honest – he was useless and contributed nothing to the main story. Kim Ji Suk was an ineffective second lead, albeit (supposedly) attractive and the perfect guy. The villain and villainous were ineffectual both in their misdeeds and their retribution – no one was really (logically) evil and none paid the full price for their deeds either. In short, I wasn’t kidding when I said our main couple anchored and carried the show, both during the good and bad times.

This is my main dissatisfaction about Angel Eyes and I find it so unfortunate because this caused the show a majority of its audience. It lost its viewers’ interests no thanks to the meandering middle where the plot conflicts remained wafer-thin and the plot line was stagnant so we circled and danced around the same why-is-this-a-conflict and tears, oh god lots of tears, and the occasional and incredibly random appearance of Seungri as comic relief. Don’t read the comments online about the middle episodes cos they’re not helping, by that I mean –

Closing Note

angel eyes episode 20_4

Despite the poor writing, my advice is to stay on for the ride. Ride it out and fast-forward if you must because okay, even I ended up having to do that because the pacing slowed considerably so much so I kept yawning when I watched episodes 12-16, but trust me – you will be rewarded for your patience. True and unsurprisingly the ending was predictable as hell, but it stayed true to the spirit of the show and our beloved characters.

Angel Eyes is best remembered this way: embrace the good, make peace with the bad, and forget the ugly. Enjoy Kang Ha Neul and his dimples for 2/20 hours and Lee Sang Yoon and his dimples on your screen for 18/20 hours – double win, plus I swear they have the cutest, most heartwarming smiles. Appreciate the beauty that is Goo Hye Sun because this woman is undoubtedly gorgeous and even though yes she’s not believable (at all) as an EMT, spare her just this once because more notably, she nailed it as Soo Wan. Above all enjoy the romance because you know, it’s not every day that we come across Kdramas where the younger leads have mad chemistry and the older ones have even more sizzling chemistry. A quick guide on how to enjoy: feel the butterflies in your stomach, squeal at the cute, awww at the meaningful kisses and re-watch the ending twice, just because.

Final verdict: 7/10

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6 thoughts on “Love At Its Finest Through Angel Eyes: An Overall Review.

  1. I’m so glad you’re back:) It’s really interesting to hear what you think about angel eyes.I agree that Kang Ha Neul and Nam Ji Hyun were fabulous and I really love Lee Sang Yoon and his character.
    Goo Hye Sun improved a lot.
    Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this show as much as you did.I loved it till episode 10 or so. I found all medical cases very boring so I skipped a lot.The main reason I stayed and finished this show is that I love Dong Joo.He is so romantic and nice and it’s so rare to have such character in dramaland. I feel this show could have been much better if it were shorter.For me middle of this drama was just bad.I skipped a lot because this show didn’t hold my attention.But I liked the ending and really appreciate that I got to see Kang Ha Neul and Nam Ji Hyun again in last eps.Overall this drama was ok but still it could have been better.
    What are you watching now?

    1. Paloma! *excitedly waves* I’m trying to be back, more like :) But aw, thank you for the warm welcome back :) Thank youuu for pointing all these out cos those are the other rough edges of the show – which I’d forgotten to mention in my review here haha. They really were boring and my main tiff was they seemed and played out really mediocre so laughable in general. I agree completely with how you described Dong Joo though! Definitely would’ve benefited had the show been shorter, I am with you on that. I think this show has a special spot in my heart, flaws and all, cos I really really really like both the young and adult couples – actors and characters altogether. Too awesome.

      I am watching … believe it or not Ojakgyo Brothers! I’m at episode 9 now and love it! I’ve been wanting to pick up Joseon Gunman but I think I will wait until I can marathon it because things tend to end badly when I live-watch. Still trying to finish Secret Love Affair and In A Good Way btw… The only show I’m watching now is Ojakgyo and omg I love it. I’m glad Tamarelle recommended it to me some months ago :)

  2. I finally finished the show! It took me too long as I went into a slump……none of the current shows interest me enough to go ‘ga ga’, so I opted to do some reading instead. Can’t say I’m out of the K-drama slump yet but at least AE is now done.

    Verdict – Good but not great. 20 eps seems too long as it was so draggy that I skip many parts. there were touching moments, but to have too many of them seems to kill the mood. But one thing for sure, I prefer this to the winter blow show last year. At least the 4 leads (2 younger 2 older) are very watchable. KHN, LSY, GHS & NJH are all very good. GHS is the best surprise. She’s got a great to play and she did a great job. I’ve bad aversions to certain K-actresses (esp one who just got casted in my fav drama of all time eekkkksssss!!) and GHS is safely out of this list!

    Back to the show, I love DJ’s family – his mum & sis are so spunky and they do all the correct things with fantastic scenes – the mum cooking scenes are so heartwarming & sis is such a go-getter. I wud have hated it if they actually tried to pair her up with the ahjusshi but I guess for Seung Ri’s sake, they can’t. LOL!! I wanted very much to hate the father but couldn’t. When he died so suddenly without ever finding out that he was never the murderer, that was really sad.

    DJ is TOO perfect. I dun think there’s anyone out there like him (god bless those who knows such a person). He is steadfast & knows what he wants but is WAY TOO patient. Can one be so patient? He’s too much of a ‘softy’ in this sense. I want a go-getter hero! But then I can’t complain as we had a go-getter heroine. She was ‘lost’ after dad died but aren’t we all glad that love really moves the world.

    So yes, I enjoyed whichever part I didn’t skip.

    ps. I am watching Joseon Gunman. LJK continues to impress. Hv I mentioned I totally couldn’t stand watching him much as I loved ‘My Girl’? And I missed Time Btw Wolf & Dog too. But he grew up! After army, he’s a man!! I’ve watched all his shows after he came out of army! Hahaha…..

    1. Yay Terri thanks for the informative review on the show, to offer a different persecutive! I totally agree with you that the show is good, but not great (I think I am slightly biased because I love the childhood portion too darn much) and I appreciate it sooo much that you pointed out the flaws of the show because I obviously didn’t in my review hahaha. Struggled to write this so kinda forgot to add in the negative bits :p Also agree with what you said about Dong Joo, though I am inclined to believe someone like him exists hehehe. He’s super adorable though, and you’re right – extremely patient.

      HAHA omg I honestly couldn’t stand him either in My Girl *high fives* so actually I’ve never been interested in him pre- or post-army but I guess now I must take note :p I have read/noted sooo many good stuff written about Joseon Gunman. Am hoping to marathon it, probably in August since I leave to Australia tonight ehe. What’s your verdict about the show thus far, are you as crazy about it as all the other bloggers seem to be? I recently wrapped up Ojakkyo Brothers (totally dominated my life for the past week hahaha) and loved it. 58 episodes were a chore but it is such a heartwarming drama, Ioved it.

  3. I feel mildly jealous that you’re not only watching and finishing dramas, but writing about them too – especially after all last year you said you were in a drama watching slump, and I wasn’t, and now I haven’t completed a single drama in several months (drops after 2 episodes don’t count).
    Maybe I should give this drama a try then? Lol

    1. Rosieeeee!!! *waves* How have you been these days? It’s more like I’m trying to write – still a rather serious case of writer’s block and though I’m back on the drama wagon, not so much the writing. I have heard so much good stuff about Joseon Gunman so maybe you could consider checking that out? I recently completed Ojakkyo Brothers and loved it. Long family drama at 58 episodes but sooo watchable and though it does drag or some story lines are so silly, for the most part it’s really a meaningful watch :) I noticed you wrote a review just early this week! Tell ya what, don’t think about the slump. Just watch what you like and if the words then follow, use them. If they don’t then move on to another show :)

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