If it isn't love at first sight, it's certainly something remarkably close. Stumbling across Cha Eun Sang (Park Shin-Hye) on her whirlwind trip to California, Kim Tan (Lee Min Ho) topples head over heels for the girl with the crazy family. Against the wishes of his own rather unique/nuts family (and most of his old high school friends), Kim Tan follows her back to Korea only to unexpectedly find her residing in his own home. Because Eun Sang is the daughter of the maid. And thus launches a story of dysfunctional families, tragic futures, broken hearts, abandoned children, lonely parents, and desperate lives -- all set against the story of the kind-hearted, ever devoted Kim Tan and his undying optimism. Can his dreams for those around him come true? Or will they just take him down with them?
Wow, I'm actually not sure which way to go on this one. On the one hand, I secretly loved it and thought it had some really fabulous parts. The acting was actually really, really good. About the only characters I didn't like were Eun Sang and Hyun Joo. Otherwise, they all did their parts very well, so mostly I blame the script. The two moms together were adorable; and so were Chan Young, Bo Na, Hyo-Shin, and Myung Soo. They add wonderful humor into the story, and I kind of want to be best friends with Chan Young and Bo Na myself. I did adore Kim Tan and his brother was pretty sweet too as the show went on. Even Young-Do wasn't too bad once his character got some development. It had some unique elements, especially the approach it took to the "rich kids and their parents" element (sort of).
But there were a lot of not-so-awesome parts in it too. The storyline is the worst part. Have you seen Boys Over Flowers? Good, then you've seen about 2/5 of this show, except this time the cast is way too old to pull of the high school scene. Seriously, I just made it college in my mind to get through it since there was NO WAY those people were 17-18. The bullying, the fights, the petty bickering, even much of Lee Min Ho's relationship with the girl - it all comes right out of BoF. Although, Eun Sang has nothing on Jan Di; I didn't feel like she felt anything for Kim Tan until at least 3/4 of the way through the show.
Worst, the ending completely and totally sucks. Seriously, Korean dramas are infamous for leaving webs unwoven, but what was up with this drama? There were so many unfinished plot threads, it drove me nuts! What happened to the mistress and dad? Is Young-Do's father going to be okay-and does this mean their relationship is going to survive or at least improve? Is Hyo-Shin really, really okay? What about Myung-Soo? They introduced the idea that he's suffering there at the end but never explained why or how it might be resolved. What about Young-Do? Is he not alone anymore, because Gosh-Darn-it, I want him to have someone to hug! What about Kim Tan's mom? How is she going to survive? And will the dad finally realize what he's about to lose? What about the company? Was Won's loss all for nothing, or will his enemies now back off? Perhaps the worst of it all, I still wish Kim Tan had a better girlfriend than Cha Eun Song.
Kim Tan is one of the very few characters who truly deserves the best that life can provide him. He's good-hearted, determined, caring, and generous to those around him. Other than his lack of drive or ambition/inability to do a decent day's work, he's pretty awesome. And I don't feel like it's resolved at the end. After all the times she's run off and ditched him without warning, I don't feel like you can trust Eun Song (or anyone else in his life) not to do it again. I suppose I feel like Won is going to be there for him now, but that brings me back to Won and the way the show completely ruined him. I hated where they left him and I'll never forgive this show for that. Or the way it left the other characters. Yeah, the ending just sucked.
Anyway, the message expressed was actually pretty good and kind of interesting. It seemed to be based on the theme "be careful what you wish for." If you put Fame and Fortune at the top of your list, you may not be happy when you get it. Conversely, sometimes love and passion just isn't enough. You have got to think about the people around you, not just your love for one individual. It's a story about bad parents and children left to raise themselves. A story about becoming a man, but not rushing to grow up too soon. About loving family, because they may be all you have left.
The actual acting and technical elements were AWFUL in the beginning, while it was set in America. It makes the Americans look like either drug-addicted, violent, wife-abusing criminals or fat, stupid, drug-addicted criminals. To be honest, I wasn't real impressed with the first few episodes. Between the bad acting, the plot holes, the completely unbelievable coincidences, and other random annoyances, I didn't really get into it until after he was back in Korea (which took a few episodes). Then it smoothed out and got a more well made (until the awful ending).
Would I recommend it? Maybe. . . If you liked Boys over Flowers, it reminds me a lot of that show. But I would almost recommend you stop it about two episodes early. It picked up a ton of unnecessary angst just to drag the show out and it completely ruined the story. If you do pick this up, don't stop until after he's back in Korea. You don't get a feel for the drama until after that; everything before is just cheap intro.
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