New World

(Sin Segae)
(South Korea, 2013, 134 mins, DCP)
North American Premiere
CAST Lee Jungjae, Choi Minsik, Hwang Jungmin, Park Seongung, Song Jihyo, Lee Gyeongyeong, Ju Jinmo
PRODS Han Jaedeok, Kang Woosuk
SCR Park Hoonjung
CAM Jeong Jeonghun
ED Moon Segyeong
PROD DES Jo Hwaseong
MUS Jo Yeonguk
PROD CO Sanai Pictures for N.E.W.


Winner of the Jury Prize at this year’s Thriller Festival in Beaune, New World also took the Korean box office by storm in the spring. Park Hoonjung (he scripted I Saw the Devil) announces himself as a director with a slam-bang underworld drama which draws pretty openly on ideas from The Godfather and the Hong Kong trilogy Infernal Affairs but has a muscular vehemence all its own. He’s created seriously meaty roles for his three leads: Lee Jungjae as the police mole in the crime syndicate Goldmoon, Choi Minsik as his hard-bitten police handler and Hwang Jungmin as his uncouth "sworn brother"—and rival for leadership when their big boss meets an untimely end in a road "accident."

Industrial-strength brutality meets finely honed wit in a labyrinthine plot which turns on the control of lucrative new trade-routes between Korea and China. I don’t think there’s a single scene—or even image—anywhere in the film which isn’t indebted to earlier gangster movies, but that doesn’t dent New World’s entertainment value one iota. It sings, loud and proud: glad to be generic. If you like this kind of thing, this is the kind of thing you like a lot.

Tony Rayns

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