I don’t think this movie is for everyone, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it, if you happen to be looking for a light rom-com.
HOWEVER. If you’re a fan of So Ji Sub &/or Han Hyo Joo, &/or are in the mood for a love story that vibes kinda-sorta along the lines of Classic Hallyu, then there’s a good chance you’d enjoy this movie. I definitely have a soft spot for both So Ji Sub and Han Hyo Joo, and I ended up enjoying this one pretty well myself.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
A down-and-out former boxer meets a visually impaired woman, and she begins to change his life.
MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS
Here are a couple of things that I think would be helpful to keep in mind, to maximize your enjoyment of your watch:
1. This one is most definitely a melodrama. There are some lighter moments, like when our leads are falling in love, but I think it’s helpful to keep in mind, that this one is a melo at heart. What I can tell you, is, this is one of those stories that ends on a reasonably happy note.
2. The writing isn’t exactly inspired. What I mean is, there is a very recognizable pattern to this story. If you’ve watched enough classic Korean romance, you’d probably be able to predict most of our story’s main plot points. Show is a pretty good combination of these recognizable plot points and tropes, though, in the sense that I still found the story and characters engaging.
3. There is some violence in this, partly due to the fact that our male lead Chul Min (So Ji Sub) is shown fighting for a living. Some of this violence can be hard to watch.
4. Things get rough in Show’s last third, but hang in there, because like I said, this one has a happy ending.
STUFF I LIKED
1. So Ji Sub as Chul Min. So Ji Sub is perfectly cast as Chul Min, in that he does silent, mournful eyes SO well, and Chul Min has a lot of pent-up pain and emotional baggage, which warrants the sad eyes. There were times when I thought So Ji Sub’s delivery comes together so well with the lighting and framing, such that Chul Min looks positively haunting and incandescent, in this dark, soulful sort of way.
On top of this, So Ji Sub’s in fantastic fighting form in this show (those shirtless scenes are on point, baby), and his tattoos happen to be a perfect match with Chul Min as a character.
2. Han Hyo Joo as Jung Hwa. In my mind, Han Hyo Joo may not be the strongest actress out there, but she is very solid, and she has a natural, warm, winsome sort of charm that suits Jung Hwa perfectly. It’s true that Jung Hwa’s sunny disposition requires some suspension of disbelief, but it’s so in line with the inspiringly wholesome heroines of Classic Hallyu, and Han Hyo Joo is so sweet and appealing in the role, that I’m happy to roll with it.
Also, for the record, I do think that Han Hyo Joo does a reasonably decent job of playing a blind character.
3. The development of the OTP relationship. I actually really liked the way Show teases out the connection between Chul Min and Jung Hwa.
Josée is another k-movie that I watched recently, that also features a person with a disability finding romance with an able-bodied individual, which is why I thought of making a comparison. In Josée, I’d felt that the OTP relationship could have been developed in a more engaging manner, whereas in this show, I felt fully on board with how Show takes us through the growing closeness of Chul Min and Jung Hwa. This is something that I felt Show did very well.
I also very much appreciated seeing how happy Chul Min and Jung Hwa are, together. Show managed to convince me that these two truly love each other, are truly good for each other, and are happiest when they are together, such that when Stuff happens in the later stretch of our story, I’m fully on board with rooting for them to make it through everything, with their love for each other intact.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
Right at the point where Jung Hwa tells Chul Min about the accident which had resulted in her losing her sight, I had an instant gut instinct, that Chul Min was somehow involved in the accident – because this is how Classic Hallyu tends to work, after all, right? I was a little underwhelmed by this coincidence, to be honest.
However, once I’d adjusted my lens to just accept that this is just part of the landscape, due to where Show wants to position itself, I found Chul Min’s actions understandable.
Given how much he loves Jung Hwa, I can imagine the extent of the guilt that hits Chul Min, when he realizes that his problem-riddled past has had at least some kind of causal effect in Jung Hwa going blind. Not only that, the accident had taken both her parents’ lives as well.
Because of this, I can see why Chul Min would be desperate to get Jung Hwa the surgery that would save her sight, before it’s too late. And, I can understand his recklessness in choosing to do whatever it takes, never mind the potential danger or cost. I can see that this is the one mistake that he’d like to correct, if he can, even if it costs him his life.
Still, it’s really hard to watch Chul Min participate in that fight, where the fight only ends if one opponent dies or passes out, and rich VIP types bet on the outcome, just for funsies (this definitely gives me inadvertent Squid Game echoes, not gonna lie).
What makes it so much worse, is that Chul Min does win, powered by his determination to bring home more money for Jung Hwa – and it’s Min Tae Sik’s (Yoon Jong Hwa) scheme to steal it all from him, that leaves him barely alive. ACK. This was really hard to watch. 😭
Thereafter, it’s tough to watch Jung Hwa practically losing her mind from worry, over Chul Min’s disappearance. What a reality to open her eyes to, after getting her sight back.
Of course, in Classic Hallyu fashion, 2 years pass, and our OTP crosses paths by pure coincidence. The only problem is, Jung Hwa had known Chul Min only while she had been blind, and doesn’t recognize him on sight the way he recognizes her. It’s heartbreaking to see Chul Min swallow his tears, and just gaze glassily at the friendly therapist who’s come to massage his wasting muscles, at the hospital. 💔 (So Ji Sub does this kind of silent angst so well, seriously.)
Because a happy ending is never a given with Classic Hallyu type stories, Show had me on tenterhooks to the very end.
HOWEVER. Jung Hwa does find Chul Min, and just like she’d promised when she’d been blind, she does recognize him after all. Ahhh. Even though we don’t get much dialogue at all, in this closing scene, her tearful joy at finding him again, and his tearful gratitude, at being found, and accepted, is enough to tell us that their love does overcome. And that’s enough for me, because honestly, that’s what I was here for, all along. ❤️
THE FINAL VERDICT:
A solid love story in the spirit of Classic Hallyu.
FINAL GRADE: B+
WHERE TO WATCH:
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