'New World' is an epic gangster film from South Korean director, Park Hoon-jung. With actors such as Choi Min-sik (probably most well known for his role as Dae-su in 'Oldboy'), I was expecting this film to deliver something spectacular. And, well, it did. For the duration of the narrative, I could not tear my eyes away from the screen. While the pace of most films of this length tends to slow, or get a little dull, 'New World' kept a steady rhythm, full of political intrigue.
Undercover cop, Ja-seong (played by Lee Jeong-jae), leads a dual life. He has his job as a policeman, and the role of a gangster in a large crime syndicate that goes under the name of 'Goldmoon.' When the boss of the syndicate is killed in a car accident, Chief Kang (Choi Min- sik) puts a new project into effect called 'Operation New World'. The purpose of this operation is to ensure that one of the undercover cops in the syndicate will rise to a position of power. The ultimate aim is for the syndicate to be in the hands of, or at least easily manipulated by, a trusted law enforcer.
Ja-seong finds himself torn between his duties as a cop, and his loyalties to 'brother,' and gang member, Jung Chung (Hwang Jung-min). Putting more hours, and more effort into his work, Ja-seong finds less time at home with his pregnant wife, and more into the syndicate 'family'. Acting as a bridge between the law, and the underworld, the loyalty of Ja-seong is rarely questioned by his acquaintances. Yet, it is apparent that Ja-seong beings to question the nature of loyalty, and of betrayal. As he prepares to dive further into the syndicate, his confusion becomes ever more apparent.
Some of the conversations in 'New World' were gripping, and the portrayal of violent acts was just spectacular. The use of blood in these instances, paired with close ups, were some of the most aesthetically pleasing moments in the film. While not extremely violent, 'New World' uses violence in a manner that complements the pace of the film. The ruthless nature of the law, and the syndicate, was highlighted in these instances, and it is apparent that both sides can be as manipulative, and as corrupt, as one other. All the while, in the midst of this corruption, Ja-seong must find a place of power to call his own; he must create a whole new world.