The Queen of Asian Drama is Back with more Irreverent Reviews and Snarky Commentary.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Jackpot #review

The Royal Gambler / Daebak / 대박

Writer -  Kwon Soon gyu
Genre -  Sageug
Network -   SBS
Episodes -  24
Released -  2016, Mar - Jun



The story of an unfortunate prince named Yeong soo (Dae gil), who is born of royalty but lives a peasants' life. Dae gil is the best gambler in the Joseon era. He holds deep resentment inside, but is also cool on the outside. (DramaWiki w/edits)
Lee In jwa, a deposed man of entitlement, burns with the desire to avenge his family and sets out to infiltrate the palace, raise Dae gil to be the next King, and overthrow the reigning monarch as vengeance. (me)


The first part of this 24-episode historical drama (based on actual events that are then embellished to the point of being fictional) was a thriller to say the least.

Lee In jwa is a ruthless, cunning, conniving man who is determined to depose the reigning king as part of a plot to avenge his massacred family in an earlier uprising when he was a boy.

He's intelligent and stealth, carefully selecting and depositing people within the palace to pose as spies for his dastardly deeds.

One of his victims is Dae gil's mother, who is sent to the palace on In jwa's instruction, and when the king takes her as his cheob, the plan bears the much anticipated fruit.

However, Dae gil arrives six months later, causing the king to be suspicious and orders the infant destroyed.

Dae gil is spared and sent, instead, to the gambling man the woman had once lived with, and it is there that Dae gil grows into a young man filled with high spirits, gambling savvy, and a thirst for justice.

The second part shows us Dae gil's desire to avenge the death of his gambling father as he embarks on the second journey of his life.

He meets with a former palace guard and spends a few years with the skilled master learning everything he needs to know about martial arts, sword play, and how to win at the game known as right vs. wrong.

Then, in the last part, we're made to suffer through a lot of intrigue, murder, and foiled attempts by both the bad and good factions surrounding the plot.

Personally, I became swept away by every gambling scene in the first few episodes and had hoped that the two, estranged brothers would remain as staunch allies in their inevitable fight for justice.

Alas, things changed -- the gambling routines stopped, the madness ensued, and I was left to wonder why it was ever important that Dae gil came from the king's loins.

And, like all great Sageuk stories, the bad guy continued to gain power, prestige, and influence despite the countless number of times someone, anyone, could have cacked his sorry ass and ended the pitiful reign of one so small-minded and blind to his own misdeeds.

It was great to see Jang Geun suk again, but he never managed to blend in with the scenery or disguise of his being a character and remained the baby-face, pretty grin Rocker that he is in reality.

Sad, too, that Kim Sung oh's Gae Jak doo was bit and that he had to die so soon.

He did a marvelous job portraying the hardened mountain man on the wrong side of the royal family who was trained as an assassin to murder the king.

Lim Ji yeon as Dam seo (Tom Sawyer, as she became known each time her name rang out in a scene) did a fine job as well, portraying the young woman who's father is loyal to the wrong side, working closely with Lee In jwa, who eventually kills him and takes Dam seo in as his own daughter.

Of course, Dam seo eventually learns the truth and has to re-examine her entire life, but the predictable occurs when she goes against everything she's come to believe as a show of . . . uh, well 
. . . I honestly don't know.

She just did a really stupid thing that is entirely expected to occur in a Sageuk.

Yeo Jin goo is pretty, and my daughter fell in love with the handsome Prince Yeong jo as soon as he appeared on screen.

Her mother spent most of the time trying to decide who had the deeper, more sexy voice, him or Dae bak.

The prince won, but only by a fraction.

Yeo Jin goo

She also thought that Dam Seo was pretty, but her mother thought otherwise and chose this woman instead:

Jeon Soo jin


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