Kang Ji Hwan oh Kang Ji Hwan, how I long for you to melt my heart <33
It’s been long since I’ve raved and ranted about my love Kang Ji Hwan. I suppose ever since his controversial dispute with his former management Jambo, he just faded away from the limelight and chose to stay low-profile for a while. A severe and stark contrast to his glorious and victorious year 2009 whereby he reaped countless awards for his performance in Rough Cut (co-starring So Ji Sub) followed by a hit in the box office with 7th Grade Civil Servant (co-starring Kim Ha Neul). I feel awfully bad for him, as he was on a streak to more success and fame but had to succumb to such a huge blow amidst that. However as the saying goes, when you trip, you get up and move on from it. I strongly believe that with Kang Ji Hwan’s talent and determination, he will move past this soon and come back better. After all, it’s not like he’s not without the chops right?
Now back to the movie.
To be honest, Love Is Blind was all about Kang Ji Hwan for me. Before and after, the conclusion’s still the same. He was the pulling factor. He was the REASON. Watching the movie truly reminded me of how I much I missed this actor on-screen. Altho the movie was short of mediocrity with less than palatable chemistry between him and Lee Ji Ah, I really had an enjoyable time watching him play out his antics in the movie. The way he emoted, the way he expressed his feelings.. it really made me go AWWWW… He was just soooo handsome and charming (albeit a bit too greasy and cheesy in certain scenes) that it made me squee so hard. <33 No wonder everyone wants to claim him.
Kang Ji Hwan plays Kang Tae Poong, a famous and renowned architect who essentially has EVERYTHING from the looks to money, and to fame. The one thing lacking in his life – the love of his life. He’s certainly not short of companionship, but when it comes to that ONE person, the ideal GODDESS of his heart, it’s no play. One fine day, he gets into an accident which distorts his eye vision, following whereby he encounters Soo Jeong (Lee Ji Ah), an ordinary (well, less than average I’d say) animal magazine reporter. Predictably, it’s love at first sight for Tae Poong as he falls in love with the goddess-like Soo Jeong (due to his distorted eye-vision) and goes on a streak of courtship to pursue her. Soo Jeong on the other hand knows her own limits, but nevertheless ignores her “imperfection” and goes along with Tae Poong’s courtship (who wouldn’t right? It’s KANG JI HWAN man!). How nice if the story’s to end right there. But life is never a bed of roses… As Tae Poong regains normal eye-sight, reality starts to hit him and he finds himself in a deep deep mess…
The plot’s nothing new. I’d go as far to say it’s almost a carbon copy of the Hollywood flic Shallow Hal starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black which came out years ago. So I didn’t have any expectations (save for KJH of course) and wasn’t expecting to be really blown away or anything. The sad thing however is that given the material, which the writer or director could have tapped into to give the movie more depth and meaning – failed to do so miserably.
First of all, the relationship between Tae Poong and Soo Jeong progressed way too fast (and ridiculously) that it was difficult to relate. I know it’s fictional and all, but it’s just downright ridiculous to see Tae Poong fall SO MADLY in love with Soo Jeong at first sight just like that. The cheesiness in his courtship was just all over the top (but still cute nonetheless…because he’s K!J!H!) and it certainly didn’t help when the girl was a crazy bum. Moreover, Lee Ji Ah’s Soo Jeong really did not look at all goddess like or ethereal in Tae Poong’s distorted eyes. (no offense to actress) She was just plain Jane looking and looked extremely pale to me. Odd because I thought she managed to pull off the goddess-like vibe in her CFs that I’ve seen, and was even more gorgeous as Sujini in Legend. Conclusion – the make-up was horrible. But that’s not the point. I may have been a bit picky on Soo Jeong’s looks, but the thing’s that her personality wasn’t at all intriguing or interesting in any way (IMHO) to make Tae Poong realize in the end that it was her inner-self that attracted him instead of his distorted perception of her physique. When Soo Jeong asked Tae Poong about the reasons of why he liked her (which I will not say here), I totally LOLed. I so totally did not see any of those traits in Soo Jeong at all. Either the director had intended to portray Soo Jeong in that light but failed to do it (because of poor direction, there I said it), or Lee Ji Ah just failed to deliver those characteristics on screen (aiks). What could have been a great opportunity to delve into the interesting concept of “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder” was blown away just like that. BOO~~
Second, an aspect which relates to the aspect of “inner beauty”. I assume the message the movie had intended to convey its viewers, well, or at least propagate to some extent, is that physical beauty is nothing if it doesn’t come with a personality that clicks. You can have the most handsome and prettiest partner, but in the end, you just don’t feel happy AT ALL because you don’t/can’t click with your partner at all. Well, the movie managed to send this message across by the portrayal of Tae Poong realizing how much Soo Jeong’s personality meant and mattered to him over her ordinary looks thruout after she left him. BUT BUT BUT, it was all okay UNTIL they showed Soo Jeong going on and on about how handsome Tae Poong looked, how blissful she was going to be with him and how beautiful their kids were gonna be.. etc. She apparently ALSO fell in love with Tae Poong because of his looks (first)! And while he was to blame for dumping her because of her “real” looks, can she be anymore ignorant of the fact that she was as superficial as Tae Poong himself? It annoyed the heck out of me. Sure, the movie probably had intended to depict the reality that beauty’s always preferred and desired by everyone and that superficiality is a norm. But the poor execution ruined everything. How can you expect one to buy Soo Jeong’s situation and feel for her when she herself went on to diss someone else for looking UGLY right after being dumped by Tae Poong? How can one empathise with such a character? I thought that scene was entirely unnecessary, and really contradicted all the talk about Tae Poong being judgmental because of her looks in the first place. In a nutshell, either the scriptwriter was confused on how to deal with this issue, or he/she just needs to get some more writing lessons. Word.
Third, the aspect of Tae Poon realizing his love for Soo Jeong because her “inner beauty” a.k.a her personality and not her looks. I’d say this part was supposed to be the crux and essence of the whole movie. If this had been executed well, the movie could have been a lil bit better than average. But sadly, the director left everything a bit too loose and simple for us to be MOVED. Honestly speaking, we’ve seen countless sequences like this – A pretends to like B or likes B for some shallow reason, breaks up with B, then finds out he/she really likes B for who he/she is…etc. It’s really simple. But I could think of a dozen of similar movies/dramas whereby those relationships actually moved me, touched me and struck a chord with me. Here, everything was just skin deep and superficial. No depth or nuances whatsoever. Disappointing.
Now, on to the acting part. Kang Ji Hwan. As I’ve mentioned before, altho the movie was disappointing as a whole, I enjoyed most of the parts because of Kang Ji Hwan. I admit I have a very very soft spot for him. And watching him on screen’s just LOVE. There were parts however ,where I thought he’d overdone his expressions a bit (esp his romantic/cheesy parts). But generally speaking, he was the best out of the bunch. He needs to find a breakthrough in his comedic style tho because a lot of it was just too reminiscent of his comical side in Capital Scandal, Hong Gil Dong and 7th Grade Civil Servant. Of course it’s not a bad thing, but those lil things are things that type-cast you. And being type-cast is certainly not what an actor wants. At least I know, not for the actor himself.
Lee Ji Ah on the other hand was decent. A lot of people hate her for being annoying in her cutesy roles, but here her character kinda called for it. I applaud her efforts in downgrading her looks for the role and I liked that she went all out to play out Soo Jeong’s ditzy-ness and klutzy-ness. But again, there’s just something missing in her acting which I can’t seem to figure out. It’s like she’s acting for the sake of acting only… like there’s zero passion or zeal in her eyes. I truly miss the heart and conviction that she’d managed to deliver in her debut drama Legend. There was she endearing, lovable and relatable. But in her later projects, she became forgettable. What happened to that potential she had back then?
One last thing, chemistry. Sorry KJH, but you had ZERO ZERO chemistry with Lee Ji Ah. The one last thing which could have salvaged the show and its lousy direction and script equally faltered – miserably too I’m afraid. But it’s not entirely the actors’ faults because chemistry’s not easy to come by. If you have it BINGO, and if you don’t, you will never have it. I read that both KJH and LJA were quite close and friendly off-set but unfortunately that didn’t translate well on screen.
Well to sum it up, I was disappointed by the movie as a whole. Save for my slightly biased love for KJH, it really did not live up to my expectations (and it wasn’t high to start with). Hopefully his next project Coffee House (with Park Shi Yeon) will be better. FIGHTING, Ji Hwan ssi!