모두 (2003) SBS 24 Episodes
Romantic Melodrama, Grade: A
Korean Drama Classic Review by Alison, USA
Addendum by Jill, USA
Starring one of South Korea's
most charismatic, talented and versatile actors, Lee
Byung-hun, All In (2003) is an exciting,
fast-paced and touching drama set in the glamorous world
of high stakes gambling (and filmed mostly on beautiful
Jeju Island with some scenes in Las Vegas on location).
The series starts with a bang (literally) as we see a
beautiful young woman, Min Su Yeon (played by the
exquisite Song Hye Kyo, more recently displaying her
acting chops in Descendants
Of The Sun and That
Winter, the Wind Blows), preparing for her
wedding while the man she is waiting for, Kim In Ha,
played by Lee Byung Hun, is shot in the chest. From there we
flashback to the events leading up to that day.
Young Han Ji Min & Jin Goo
In Ha is an orphan raised by his
gambler uncle Kim Chi Soo (Im Hyun Sik). As
a teen, In Ha is played by a young actor named Jin Goo,
who bears a remarkable resemblance to Lee Byung Hun.
(Another Korean drama specialty characteristic is that
they often seem to get their casting perfectly right
with the younger / older versions of characters). The
boy finds a friend in Choi Jung-won (later played as an
adult by handsome Ji Sung, who would later get his own
chances to be the leading player in a similarly set drama,
the Sun, and also in the hit series Kill
Me, Heal Me), the rich young son of a movie
theater owner named Choi Do Hwan (Lee Deok Hwa from Hyde,
Jekyll and I and countless other dramas).
In Ha falls in love at first
sight with Su Yeon (played as a young girl by Han Ji
Min; she would go on to star in such dramas as Padam
Padam and Hyde,
Jekyl and I, and Rooftop
Prince), who is the daughter of the
When Su Yeon's father gets into debt with some
evil gangsters (are there any other kind?) and later
dies, In Ha and Jung Won seek revenge by starting a fire
at the gangster's hideout. However, their plan to simply
do damage goes awry when the gang leader is killed.
In Ha is caught, and spends the
next seven years in jail.
Jung-won is spared any jail time because his rich
family flexes their connections to get him out of it. Meanwhile,
heartbroken and orphaned, Su Yeon joins a convent where
she becomes the beloved Sister Angela.
Then, seven years later, the lives of these three people
converge again. In
Ha is hired at the casino where Su Yeon (forsaking her
original vocation to help the convent by earning money) is
a dealer and surprise! Jung-won's
family owns this casino. In
Ha and Su Yeon are drawn to each other yet again, but many
obstacles await, including In Ha's detour to America and a
bout with amnesia.
(It's amazing how often amnesia figures into so many
Korean dramas' plot lines!).
All In Cast: (l to r): Song
Hye Kyo, Byung Hun Lee,
Ji Sung, Park Sol-mi
I absolutely loved
All In; it is one of my top favorite dramas. It has a little bit
of everything, romance, action, endearing and
multi-layered characters, friendships and rivalries, big
business and criminals, and off the charts chemistry
between the two leads (who also dated in real life). You get a glimpse
into the world of casinos, where In Ha shines because he
is a natural born card shark (thanks to his uncle's
tutelage when he was a boy).
Park Sol Mi in
There is also a beautiful soundtrack, multiple subplots,
and endless complications driving the lovers together
and apart over and over again. It is also fun to see part of the action
set in the United States.
Of course, as we often see in Korean dramas,
there is also a love triangle, as both In Ha and Jung
Won love Su Yeon, while a wealthy young casino / hotel
heiress Jin Hee (lovely Park Sol Mi, with her fantastic
head of hair (who was in Beloved,
and also played the other woman in Winter
Sonata) longs for Jung Won.
Another thing I
liked about this drama is that the two lead women are
also smart and capable.
Best of all, there is the performance of Lee
Byung Hun, who captivates you with his masculinity,
charm and startlingly sweet smile. A terrific
soundtrack too, with the main theme song later revealed
as being sung by the wonderful late actor Park Yong Ha (Winter
Sonata and Story
of a Man)
who committed suicide in 2010.
A dynamic Korean
drama that both men and women will enjoy, All In
demands a long commitment for its full 24 episodes but it
is worth every minute.
Addendum by Jill (Nov. 2015)
Now that I finished All
In (2003) myself, I can add that I agree with
Alison's review and grade of A for this classic. This show on the high stakes world of
gambling had great breadth and vision, wonderful
location shots in Vegas and Jeju, and depicted constant
struggles between good and evil, loyalty and betrayal,
love vs. obsession.
A Beautiful Young Han Ji Min
My only reservation on this show has
nothing to do with the production values of the drama
itself, which were excellent, even for 2003, rather the
mediocre prints that are circulating on the online
sites. If you really want to enjoy this classic
for all its worth I would say there is no other
substitute than to purchase the legal DVD set at Amazon.
The resolution and sound quality and even the English
subs will be better in a professionally packaged
legitimate DVD box set.
Plays Song Hye Kyo's Character
One would think the online sites would
want to obtain the best prints, since this show, as well
as other early K-dramas, began the Hallyu Wave in the
first place, but I guess they just don't care. What
a shame. If you do watch through an online site on
your big screen TV through ROKU or other external device
then make sure to use your remote to expand the screen
image to "stretch"; that should at least make your
experience watching a bit better. Consider writing to
these K-drama sites to update their prints of these
Classics. If no one pressures them nothing will ever
change and these excellent shows with stars we all love
will be lost to future generations.
KOREAN DRAMA REVIEWS