The head of the Goldmoon crime syndicate is dead, leaving his top two lieutenants. Seizing the opportunity, the police launch an operation with the perfect weapon: Ja-sung, the boss’s right hand man, has been a deep-cover operative for 8 years, closely watched by handler Police chief Kang. With a baby on the way, and living in mortal fear of being exposed as a mole, Ja-sung is torn between his duty and honor as a cop, and the fiercely loyal gang members who will follow him to hell and back. Using inside information from Ja-sung to damage the relationship between the two feuding contenders, suspicions grow that a traitor lives in their ranks. Ruthless Jung escalates the game by hiring hackers to search the police database. As Operation New World closes in, and with the stakes climbing higher and a gangland bloodbath guaranteed among those that remain, Ja-sung makes a final, shocking decision no one could have predicted.
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.
New World is perhaps a more domestically oriented movie that would be enjoyed more by those who understand Korean culture, however the casual movie-goer will definitely not be let down. Take The Departed (Infernal Affairs) and Godfather, mix it in a blender, add a dash of Korean gangster and you’ve got a slick thriller that offers a bit of the brutal violence Korean cinema is known for as well as some humor. It’s no secret that I find Choi Min-sik one of the most fascinating actors working. The “Oldboy” star has carved one helluva career for himself this last decade, starring in excellent films such as “I Saw the Devil” and “Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time”. It seems that if the South Koreans are going to be making a great crime picture, they’d do best to cast Choi.
“New World” works smashingly, continuing in that fine South Korean tradition of great and gritty crime dramas. It may lack the sheer visceral nature of the “Vengeance” trilogy and virtuoso acting of “I Saw the Devil“, but this thriller is strangely personal, with brusque action and merciless Mamet-like urgency keeping us on the edge of our seat. If Marty decided to try his hand at another remake, he’d do well to consider this one. I would highly recommend “New World”, please do go and see it in a theater to really get the feel (The cinematography is top-notch and needs to be seen on a big screen to be believed!).