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All For Love

Hwang Jung-Min and Uhm Jung-Hwa
AKA: The Most Beautiful Week in My Life  
AKA: My Lovely Week  
Year: 2005  
Director: Min Kyu-Dong  
Producer: Yoon Je-Kyun  
Writer: Min Kyu-Dong  
  Cast: Uhm Jung-Hwa, Hwang Jung-Min, Yim Chang-Jung, Kim Su-Ro, Kim Tae-Hyun, Joo Hyun, Cheon Ho-Jin, Yoon Jin-Seo, Jung Kyung-Ho, Ha Ji-Won (cameo), Ryoo Seung-Su (cameo), Jo Hi-Bong (cameo)
  The Skinny: The co-director of Memento Mori serves up a sampler platter of Korean melodrama in this enjoyable, if overly ambitious multi-story film. Likeable performances elevate this picture beyond its overtly commercial "mix-and-match" approach to filmmaking. And even better, it's got a decent sense of humor about itself and the genre.
Review by Calvin McMillin:      From sexy singles on the lookout for love to a struggling married couple trying to keep it all together - and just everything in-between - All For Love depicts a week in the life of a dozen or so Korean citizens dealing with serious matters of the heart. Director Min Kyu-Dong, co-helmer of the popular horror hit Memento Mori, presents the audience with a number of beleaguered characters thrust into challenging situations, and interweaves it all in what amounts to a gigantic K-Drama super sampler.
     In no particular order, All for Love's multi-story narrative goes something like this: Chang-Hu (Yim Chang-Jung) finds himself on the verge of poverty, as he struggles to make ends meet while keeping his financial difficulties a secret from his dutiful, cheery wife Seon-Ae (Seo Yung-Hi). Chang Hu is being hassled by Sung Won (Kim Su-Ro), an embittered ex-basketball player-turned-debt collector, who is surprised to learn that he's got a six-year-old daughter (the adorable Kim Yu-Jung), who just so happens to be suffering from a life-threatening medical condition. While in the hospital, she's often visited by her "boyfriend," a young boy who turns out to be the son of a sassy divorcee named Yu-Jung (Uhm Jung-Hwa, from Singles). While appearing on a television show, the ballsy doctor finds herself butting heads with Detective Nah (Hwang Jung-Min, from You Are My Sunshine), a tough-talking, Rambo-loving cop whose experience with the ladies is practically nil. Of course, the bickering twosome soon find they may like each other more than they think.
      But that's only half the cast. Yu-Jung's ex-husband is shown to be an uptight music industry big shot named Jo (Chun Ho-Jin), who has to confront his gay past head-on when he hires a male housekeeper (Kim Tae-Hyun). The film's other two stories include one about nun-in-training Su Gyeong (Yoon Jin Seo) who falls for a fading pop star named Jeong Hun (Jung Kyung-Ho), and another tale about an elderly theater owner (Ju Hyun) who takes a shine to the vivacious, but aging actress (Oh Mi-Hi), who runs a coffee shop located on his property.
     As the film proceeds, the narrative strands cross as the events of each story begin to have consequences for the other characters, all of whom are, in their own way, trying to find happiness in an increasingly uncertain world. Loneliness, unemployment, strained family relations, and impending death are just a few of the not-so-pleasant themes that resonate throughout many of the tales spun in All For Love. However, in contrast to the multiple downer endings of the appropriately titled Sad Movie, this similarly-constructed film mixes the sweet with the sour, a move sure to satisfy its audience's widely divergent tastes. But as bittersweet as the film can be at times, it still maintains a healthy sense of humor throughout, even poking fun at the genre itself from time to time.
     Also known by its Korean title of The Most Beautiful Week in My Life, the film will probably be most appreciated by K-drama fanatics with short attention spans, since the film bops from story-to-story, never allowing the audience to get too bogged down in one plot line for too long. In fashioning what amounts to a "greatest hits" package of melodramatic situations, the filmmakers behind All For Love implement a fairly successful technique, albeit one that proves to be somewhat of a double edged sword. In one respect, a multi-part, interwoven narrative pretty much allows the filmmakers to cover all the bases in terms of demographics. Bored with a certain story? No problem. In minutes, you'll be whisked off to another one, featuring actors or situations that you'll be sure to identify with. Even though the film does meld together as a cohesive whole, the multitude of stories comes at the expense of character development, a factor which makes the film feel woefully underdeveloped at times. At over two hours in length, it's by no means a gargantuan epic, but the sheer number of characters, not to mention the numerous plotlines that need to be tied up by story's end, makes the film feels longer than it actually is. Less characters would have made for a sharper, more substantial movie, but as is, it's a delightful film all the same.
     But there is strength in numbers, too. The all-star cast assembled for All for Love is by far its best attribute. The standouts would have to be the actors who get top billing, Uhm Jung-Hwa and Hwang Jung-Min. Although each character in the film gets a fair shake, these two seem to take center stage as the bickering would-be lovers, and their performances seem to crackle with the most energy of all the actors involved. Detailing the attributes of each performance would probably spoil half the fun of watching the film, but there is one other actor who deserves a mention here. Even in a film adorned with a bevy of attractive female co-stars, Oh Mi-Hi nearly steals the show with her vibrant debut as a woman with big dreams, and an even bigger heart.
     While it probably has too many characters and storylines for its own good, All For Love is an entertaining film that, despite its length, never seems to wear out its welcome. Although the situations themselves (the terminal illness angle, for one) could be considered highly cliché, the film is less a rote exercise in formulaic conventions, and instead comes across as a successful attempt to give a diverse cast of characters a suitably "cinematic" chance to interact just to see how the sparks fly. If All For Love is melodramatic fluff, well, it's certainly one of the better kinds. (Calvin McMillin, 2006)
Availability: DVD (Korea)
Region 3 NTSC
CJ Entertainment
DTS 2-Disc Edition
16 x 9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Korean Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS
Removable English and Korean Subtitles
Various Extras
   Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen