Story: In a TV-duel cop Nah (Hwang Jeong-min) clashes with psychologist Hur Yu-jung (Eom Jeong-hwa), a
divorced attractive woman, who soon shares a love-hate relationship with Nah. Yu-jung also has a son, who is
currently staying at his dad's, Jo (Jeon Ho-jin), a reserved music producer, who moreover has problems with his
environment, as he is gay. His little son frequently visits a girl in hospital, who wants nothing more desperate
than to meet her father Park Sung-won (Kim Su-Ro), a now unsuccessful ex-basketball player. Park eventually gives in,
because of the money he is offered by a TV-team who wants to bring this heart-wrenching story on screen, and soon
has to realize that this girl could indeed be his daughter. Memories of an old love come up again...
Park, however, also has his hands full getting the money back from Kim Chang-hoo (Lim Chang Jung), on behalf of the company he works for. Chang-hoo did borrow the money quite some time ago and is now married with his former girlfriend Seon-Ae (Seo Yeong-hie), who he hides from that he is selling useless stuff on the streets in order to make a living or at least get by somehow. On his daily selling trips he often runs into Mr. Kwak (Ju Hyeon), an old guy, who owns the estate on which his beloved (Oh Mi-hee) is working at a coffee shop. However the woman doesn't know anything of Kwak's feelings.
Furthermore, there is also ex-nun Soo-kyung (Yun Jin-seo), who tried to commit suicide and is now under medical treatment by psychologist Hur Yu-jung. In the mental hospital she also meets famous popstar Jung-hun (Jeong Kyeong-ho), who is bound to bed because of his poor health. Slowly, Soo-kyung falls in love with him, but it isn't a love that seems to have a future...
Review: "All for Love" is a genre cocktail that takes a walk through the whole Korean comedy-drama genre and
also provides us with a good amount of humor. The most impressive thing is, however, that this genre cocktail
well, and is convincing not only on a storytelling level, but also concerning the achievements of the actors.
There are some apparent parallels to "Sad Movie", but in "All for Love" the cuts and cross-overs between the
different segments feel a lot less forced and artificial. Moreover, the kitsch-factor thankfully is less
intrusive, too, despite some hospital scenes. Director Min Kyu-Dong ("Memento Mori") actually succeeds in forging a
story about love, loneliness, unemployment and difficult family relationship into an engaging whole, in which not
rarely the actions of certain characters have direct consequences for others. This is well done jugglery, the way we
don't get to see it very often, which is also the reason why this movie proves to be so entertaining and captivating
in the end.
We are made to believe that the story revolving around tough cop Nah, played by Hwang Jeong-min ("Bloody Tie") in a role that isn't really untypical for him, and lively self-confident Yu-jung, embodied by Eom Jeong-hwa ("Singles", "Princess Aurora"), is in the center of the film. The love story feels very familiar because of the many similarities to other works of the genre, providing us with an easy introduction to the movie. The love-hate relationship between the two and the fact, that Nah's Rambo-like nature gives way to an incredible insecureness when it comes to women, make this story maybe the most entertaining one. Besides, during the course of the movie you just have to fall for Eom's extreme charm.
However, the movie is full of other well-known faces. Lim Chang Jung ("Sex is Zero") undoubtedly delivers the best work on an acting level, with his portrayel of a pitiable peddlar. Which really isn't an easy achievement as the rest of the cast also shines with a high acting niveau. Furthermore, there is Oh Mi-hee ("To Sir with Love") who deserves an extra mentioning. She may not be the youngest of the cast, but she still has an outstanding charm to her. So it doesn't come as a suprise that the love story around her and businessman Mr. Kwak is actually the most convincing one, having a certain kind of classic style and also a serving us a good amount of entertainment, thanks to her partner Ju Hyeon.
Normally, concerning romantic comedies or dramas, this would be the moment, where I hold forth about the bad script etc., but this time it seems that I have to do without it. "All for Love" surely doesn't reinvent the wheel, yet the script is complex enough that you have to wonder how the filmmakers managed to get so much into less than two hours. For one week we are introduced to the lives of several different individuals, who are all linked to one another in one way or the other. The frequent switching between the stories doesn't really feel disruptive, as we grow fond of almost any of the characters. Which stands in contrast to many other works of this kind, where we have to deal with waiting for 15 minutes or so, until one's favourite story is continued... But it doesn't stop there. Towards the end, the different stories even head for a common dramatic resolution - at least the majority of them.
About this culmination of drama, there will surely be different opinions, however. The last half hour can almost be too exhausting in its melodrama approach of things, and even might feel a bit too forced for some viewers. Fortunately, the movie gets things right again at the end and doesn't leave us with a cry-fest as in "Sad Movie". It may be a bit annoying, that the more sweet nature of this bitter-sweet film makes way for a more sad one, but it all stays within the lines of what's bearable, and the movie, as already said, finds its way back to its positive, life-affirming core. That's also what's making "All for Love" so satisfying in the end. Yes, we get some cheesiness, which maybe is something you can't avoid when making a K-drama, and especially some of the hospital scenes, as well as Sung-won's basketball play towards the end seem a bit superfluous, but still, in its core the film is way more joyful and cheerful, and thus also less obtrusive than many other dramas. Without having to lose substance. This is to be seen in many very good humorous scenes, too. There were some moments where I actually had to laugh out loud, which is something that is rarely achieved!
Apart from the already mentioned fact, that you have to endure at least a bit of hospital drama here, too, there isn't really much to criticize. The path to the ending might be a bit overdramatic in its heading for an unavoidable showdown, and moreover one really could have cut out the episode revolving around the ex-nun, in order to go for some more character elaboration, but you can't get everything. And what we get here is more than I could have asked or hoped for. The charismatic and great actors and the good script eventually will win you over for sure. There is something for every taste, if you aren't completely antipathetic to this genre. And you really shouldn't be, as you would miss a pretty good flick. Besides, there is also Ha Ji-won to be seen in a little cameo!
The high quality of "All for Love" absolutely surprised me, as it's not only the pictures that are pleasing to look at, but the script can present itself as a whole, too. The movie may use the ingredients of what's well-known already, but it mixes them very well and balanced, using only the best of what the genre offers. Sure, sometimes there might be a cheesy aftertaste, but that's only rarely so and if it's the case, then it is cleverly overlaid with a more sweet taste. What I actually want to express is simple: "All for Love" is an entertaining and very satisfying movie about the problems of life and love. You shouldn't miss it!