Korean Movie Review – New World (신세계)

Despite korea being arguably the worlds foremost authority on revenge flicks, I feel that the Korean gangster movie has never really hit the same heights.  2012 was a good year for the genre with the releases of the excellent Nameless Gangster and Lim Sang-yoon’s thrilling debut A Company Man.  2013 had another addition which had the potential to be just as good, which was Park Hoon-jeong’s New World.

After the leader of the Goldmoon mafia organization is killed, a battle for the vacant position ensues.  This is lead by Lee Joong-gu (Park Sung-woong) the suave, smooth talking number three in command and Jung Chung (Hwang Jung-min) the comic, but crazy number 2 and rightful heir.  However, Jung-chung’s right hand man, Ja-sung (Lee Jung-jae), is actually an undercover police officer whose strings are being pulled by Chief Kang (Choi Min-sik), who, despite Ja-sung’s protestations, is forcing Ja-Sung to stay deep undercover to try and influence the imminent violence caused by the gangs transition of power.

New World is a breath of fresh air; albeit rather violent air.  It would be easy to say it’s simply the Korean version of Infernal Affairs, but it’s more than that.  Sure, Infernal Affairs is a big influence, but so is The Godfather, as gangsters dish out brutal, bloody vengeance after the death of their leader.

As you might expect, Choi Min Sik is solid as the police chief whose own actions blur the line between cop and gangster. Despite some overacting in some of the more emotional scenes, Lee Jung-jae is great in his role as he tries to work out who are the biggest criminals: the police or the gangsters.  But it is Hwang Jung-min who steals the show.  He is laugh out loud funny, but you never under estimate his character as he can switch from comedian to psychotic killer in a second.  This is perfectly demonstrated in one of the best fight sequences i’ve seen since in a Korean movie since the hallway scene in Oldboy.

Categories: Reviews

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