Film Review - New World

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Film Review - New World

If you liked Hong-Kongs Infernal Affairs, then you'll love koreas' New World!

Let's not pretend, the premise of this film is pretty much the same as Infernal Affairs; undercover cop has to infiltrate a long established mafia syndicate who control the societies underbelly and have fingers which reach deep inside the police force. Well if that's the case, why watch the film? Well...

New World is nothing like The Departed, a poor imitation remake, New World really stands its ground and thickens its own plot with more corruption, defragmentation on both sides of the law and a bitter hopelessness from all the main 'pawns'. What's exciting about this film is not just a cat and mouse chase, but a story about a polycephalic monster at war with itself and the only way it can survive is to kill its own heads.

Trust and loyalty are the two recurring themes in this film and its to be expected when you are so engrossed by the lifestyle of both sides and even more so, when you are the mole, who is on assignment to get so close to the head they see you as their own son and not just expendable somebody. So, Lee Ja-sung (Lee Jung-jae - The House Maid, Assassination) is constantly under pressure to deliver results, results for the police by providing substantial evidence and intelligence which will keep them a step ahead and conversely, he's under pressure to make sure the 'business' is running smoothly, moles are sought out and police are kept 2 steps behind.

New World - Park Hoon-jung

So, throughout the movie, you see a man who is constantly at war with the defence, opposition and in the end himself. The defence or the opposition could be either the police or the geondal. Both are seeking a power, which in the end would be to strong for them to hold, it's just that the police have the law behind them, which allows them to get away thing things including, erasing files of detectives who are on assignment and have been found out and are now known to be dead. Its a brutal world where Lee Ja-sung has to work around his own moral compass too. I doubt on the job description being comfortable killing your colleagues was a necessary requirement. It's also a struggle, because every character within the film, be it Chief Kang (Choi Min-sik - Oldboy), who is head of the operation to dismantle the mafia structure or Lee Joong-gu (Park Sung-woong - The gifted Hands) who heads one of the crime fractions and as a side note, really plays his part with charisma. And then there is Jung Chung (Hwang Jung-min - the Wailing) who himself heads another fraction of the crime syndicate, but is reckless and a violent disruptor for both sides.

They each know exactly what their roles are, Lee Ja-sung on the other hand is lost and left in the dark for most of the movie, which is evident in most of his interactions.

The cinematography and staging of scenes matches the slickness of these high end geondal gangsters, when things are going well and eating in expensive restaurants, but there still retains a brooding grittiness, which mirrors the reality of their actions and believe me, compared to Infernal Affairs, the violence matches Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs and Jackie Brown. 

The pace of the film is steady, as it's just over 2 hours and in reality, because of the nature of the both businesses it takes time, years, and so, the films timeline is unknown, however you can imagine it will be months, but nothing is rushed or slowed down, it all runs at a smooth pace and each character has equally on screen presence or at least where they are relevant. What I mean is even the though the film is centred around Lee Ja-sung, its the other players who make up his identity, and in order to build his identity you need to see how they communicate with the world around them.
New World - Park Hoon-jung

Director:  Park Hoon-jung
Cast: Choi Min-sik, Lee Jung-jae, Hwang Jung-min
Language: Korean (with English subtitles)
Genre: Gangster action
Country: South Korea
Year: 2013

Available to stream on the Terracotta's VOD