Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

New World

It's been a minute since I dived into the universe of Korean cinema. I figured everyone needed a break from me heaping praises upon my favorite Korean actor Choi Min-sik. Well, that time is over. Once again I would like to state that Choi Min-sik is like the Korean Robert De Niro. Whether it is in the form of a lead role or in a supporting one, I have yet to see a bad movie featuring this guy. New World could quite possibly be his best outing yet.

What is New World? Well, I suppose it wouldn't be too outrageous to call New World the Korean version of The Godfather. Of course, I mean that in only the loosest of ways. This isn't a remake at all. What I mean by that is if you appreciate the feel and presentation of movies like The Godfather then New World should be able to please you, too. There are a few parallels here and there. I noticed those moments when I saw them and I appreciated them because they were like winks to the greatest gangster film of all time. This movie didn't rip any particular movie off. Instead it created it's own unique story and really did throw quite a few twists and turns to keep me guessing.

I expected nothing less from Park Hoon-jung, the writer and director of this film as well as the writer of I Saw The Devil.

While this film does contain a bit of bloodshed, it is largely about character development and the shifting of alliances within a fractured crime syndicate. Stuck in the middle of this disaster is undercover cop Ja-sung (Lee Jung-jae in an excellent performance that should go down as one of the better performances in gangster cinema) as he tries to survive a few more weeks of undercover hell after already enduring eight years. 

Aside from Section Chief Kang Hyung-chul (Choi Min-sik) and one other person no one else even knows who Ja-sung really is and after eight years Ja-sung is beginning to forget himself. Ja-sung has since risen in power and has become the right-hand man of the second-in-command Jung Chung (Hwang Jung-min). The Section Chief sees a perfect opportunity for Ja-sung to become even more involved in the crime underworld by possibly becoming attached to the man in charge of it. Of course, Lee Joong-gu (Park Sung-woong) is also in the way of Jung Chung's rise to power since he is the very influential third-in-command and he flat-out doesn't like Jung Chung. 

Ja-sung was supposed to be days away from freedom and a new overseas mission, but now he is involved in a syndicate civil war and his handler won't let him leave without seeing the mission to the end. Ja-sung has a baby on the way and yearns for freedom, but he's not even sure if he'll live another day with all of the chaos surrounding him. 

This movie is extremely well-made and I can believe the rumor that a trilogy is in the works. This film really is fantastic and deserves a sequel. New World deserves to be seen by a lot of people. Since it only came out in 2013, I suppose I can understand how it hasn't really left its mark on a lot of folks but this is definitely a good one. 

If you like films like Donnie Brasco, The Godfather, or The Untouchables then this film should be mandatory viewing. There are certainly a lot of good Korean gangster films, but this is one of the better ones. 

Watch it. 


  1. I put it on my list. Netflix seems to have a lot of these good Korean movies available for streaming.

    1. That's where I've watched just about all of them, too. I think you'll enjoy New World.