11th Jun2020

‘Eagle and the Albatross’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Amber Liu, Dan Lauria, Michael Badalucco, Adrienne Barbeau, Bryce Romero, Chris Wylde, Jay Jay Warren, Ritchie Montgomery, Nancy La Scala, Angela Shelton, Jay Hugely, P.J. Marshall, Marcus Lyle Brown | Written and Directed by Angela Shelton

Dumped to VOD with little to no fanfare by its distributors, Eagle and the Albatross is one of those direct to market films I would unreservedly call a hidden gem. One whose trailer, thankfully (given thats the ONLY marketing I’ve seen for the film) had me sold straight away!

The film debut of K-pop star Amber Liu, Eagle and the Albatross tells the story of orphaned halfKorean girl, Ji-min, who finds herself in small town America with her only living relative. A fish out of water, Ji-min seeks out a mentor to help with the only thing she loves – golf. The best player in town, the widowed optometrist, takes her under his wing, sending them on a journey to face their fear of losing loved ones and their game. The only problem is, he has three months to live…

Now I’ll be honest, I have no knowledge of K-pop outside of what I occasionally see online, so I didn’t really have any knowledge of K-pop star Amber Liu – what actually sold me on the film was the aforementioned trailer, which really highlighted the culture clash comedy of the film… but what it DIDN’T show was the warmhearted, touching nature of the relationship between Dan Lauria’s doctor/golfer Al Wiserman and Amber Liu’s Ji-min. That aspect of the film feels very old-school, some might say the way it tugs on the heart-strings is even a little manipulative, but when it works it works; and boy does it work here. I’m not going to lie Eagle and the Albatross brought a tear to my eye… tears of sadness AND joy.

Outside of the culture clash comedy and the films cast of quirky, unconventional characters (something I really LOVED about the film TBH) Eagle and the Albatross is all about the developing relationship between Al and Ji-min; both of whom come into this film with plenty of pre-determined baggage. They’re essentially broken people who find each other through their love of golf – no pre-conceived notions of who the other person is, no prejudices, just two people who love the sport and bond over it – forming a truly multi-generational, multi-cultural friendship that is built on golf but becomes about love and respect for one another.

That’s the main story but Eagle and Albatross is also packed with other plot threads. There’s some rather risqué humour in the film too – jokes about coming, balls (an obvious joke given the sport); there’s even a running sub-plot featuring Ji-min’s aunt, now her adoptive mother, playing around with vibrators and selling them to the wives of the golfers. One character even dies from an orgasm! So this, despite the family-friendly feel of the rest of the film, is certainly not one for all the family. Which is a shame, as there’s a morality to this film which I think really deserves to be seen by everyone – it touches on race, religion, sexuality, family and more, all within the space of 90 minutes.

Speaking of family, the relationship between Al and Ji-min, even the golf club in the film itself is a family. It might be dysfunctional but everyone supports the club and wants the club to stay open; they’ve found comfort, friendship and a home in the golf club – whilst Adrienne Barbeau’s character, mother of Ji-min’s deceased father, wants to shut the place down and turn it into a strip mall. So there’s something of an underdog story to this tale too. The film also treats golf like an analogy for life, a pure, heartfelt analogy about finding your place in life, finding your path through the course of life… All topped off with one of the best soundtracks of the year so far, including songs performed by Liu herself.

There might be a lot going on within Eagle and the Albatross, with a lot of plot threads tied up in one over-arcing story, but everything comes together perfectly. Perfectly. So much so that I was totally invested in the story, the characters and the situations… Which meant I was sobbing my eyes out at THAT part of the film!

***** 5/5

Eagle and the Albatross is out now on VOD.


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