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An undercover police officer investigating a powerful Korean crime ring is torn between his duty to uphold the law, and his loyalty to the criminal who trusts him implicitly in this tense crime thriller. Under the watch of his superior Kang, devoted cop Ja-sung embarks on a clandestine mission to infiltrate the powerful "Gold Moon" crime syndicate. Eight years later, he's become part of the organization's inner circle by establishing a powerful bond with Jung Chung, the group's powerful second-in-command. When the head of the criminal outfit dies suddenly, however, the resulting internal power struggle threatens to destroy the syndicate, and dissolve the investigation. Now, Ja-sung must make a decision that will show where his true loyalties lie, and that could very well cost him his career, if he doesn't pay with his life, first.
For more about New World and the New World Blu-ray release, see New World Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on July 23, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Min-sik Choi, Ji-hyo Song, Lee Jung-Jae
Director: Hoon-jung Park
» See full cast & crew
New World Blu-ray Review
An old story told well.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, July 23, 2013
New World's title may be a bit ironic, at least insofar as it's revealed in the film's opening sequence which includes an interesting juxtaposition of situation and the name of the movie. The first thing the viewer sees in New World is the hideously disfigured face of an informant who has obviously been beaten (and perhaps tortured) to within an inch of his life in an attempt to get him to confess to having spilled the beans about a Korean crime syndicate. The poor guy begs for mercy, insisting he hasn't ratted anyone out, but the thugs surrounding him aren't buying it. After whacking him a few more times, they mix up some concrete and use a funnel to make the guy drink it. This puts a whole new spin on swimming with the fishes, but the bad guys aren't done with their victim yet, putting him in a barrel and dumping him far out to sea. It's at exactly this point, as the barrel sinks into the murky depths of the ocean, that New World is emblazoned across the screen. Yes, "new world" indeed. The opening sequence might lead some to think they're in for an ultra-violent crime thriller, and while there's certainly blood and guts galore sprinkled throughout this outing, it's a surprisingly cerebral film that recalls Martin Scorsese's The Departed and its Chinese progenitor Infernal Affairs in its tale of an undercover cop planted deep within a criminal network. Much like Infernal Affairs, New World stuffs a lot of information into its opening few minutes, leaving the viewer breathless and perhaps slightly discombobulated. At about the half hour mark, things settle down a bit and start to make more sense, as a desperate web of interrelated characters and their shifting alliances starts to ensnare people in some unexpected ways.
Ja-sung (Lee Jung-jae) seems to be in the fairly high echelons of Gold Moon, a Korean corporation that is in actuality a front for a huge crime syndicate which has, in best corporate style, managed to "merge" several previously competing factions to take over all sorts of illicit (and "licit") activities throughout the country. When Gold Moon's CEO escapes prosecution under some questionable circumstances (is someone on the "inside" protecting him) only to meet his end in a devastating car accident, suddenly Gold Moon's succession is up for grabs, with an expected power play from any number of different thugs. It is revealed at this point that Ja-sung has actually been working undercover for an astounding eight years, at the beck and call of a pretty tricky police chief named Kang (Choi Min-sik). Kang had previously promised Ja-sung that his time in Gold Moon was drawing to a close, but now with this new situation presenting itself, Kang insists that Ja-sung stay on to help Kang arrange the transfer of power the way he wants it to happen ("New World" actually refers to the name the police operation is given, one indicating the opportunity this vacancy at the top of the organization has presented to them). Ja-sung is not only not pleased by these developments, he's actually increasingly emotionally and even mentally unbalanced, especially since he's about to become a father for the first time.
It's unfair to reveal too much more that play out in New World, for the film has an elaborately structured screenplay that manages to deliver at least a couple of major surprises along the way. Suffice it to say there are several strata of people playing other people, and not always in expected ways. The police, supposedly the force for good in the film, have their own agenda which may in fact not exactly be totally noble, and there are at least two competing factions within Gold Moon that are not above spilling more than a little blood to get their own way. Ja-sung may seem like a mere victim, a powerless pawn in this Korean "game of thrones", but the film has a couple of tricks up its sleeve with regard to his character as well.
Hoon-jung Park, who both wrote and directed New World, immediately jumps to the head of his class in the Korean film industry with this bristling and exciting piece of filmmaking. The screenplay itself is a marvel of layering, with slowly developing arcs that seem to be built out of minutiae, but which explode in a maelstrom of pent up energy in the film's final half hour or so. Directorially, Park manages several incredibly well done set pieces, including an absolutely spectacular if incredibly gruesome smack down in an elevator that is certainly one of the most disturbing action sequences of the year, and most likely far beyond. Park also elicits some wonderfully evocative performances, especially since it soon becomes apparent that many if not most of these characters are play acting to one degree or another, with their true motives not revealed until the film is well under way.
The film is rather deliberately paced, which may throw some people off who come expecting a slam bang, nonstop action-fest. Park seems to favor incremental steps which slowly but surely build suspense and even deliberate confusion, but that only makes several reveals along the way all the more effective. Taken as a whole, the film is really rather artfully put together, with an aggressive first act which may leave some breathless, and then a bit of a calm before a very stormy finale.
It's too soon to know whether this is good news or bad news, but New World has so impressed the international film community that it has already been optioned for an English language remake. If someone of Scorsese's stature were to take on this property, it could be one of the most exciting films of the year. Even if it turns out to be a modern masterpiece, the original Korean film really should be seen one way or the other. It's that good.
New World Blu-ray, Video Quality
New World is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Well Go USA with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.35:1. This Red One shot features boasts incredible fine object detail, and a sleek, extremely well defined image. Park has occasionally color graded certain sequences (there's a cobalt blue sequence early in the film seen in one of the screenshots accompanying this review), but even there fine detail is only minimally compromised. Park favors extreme close-ups quite a bit of the time, and everything from individual pores to individual facial hairs are completely in evidence. Colors, at least during the "normal" looking sequences, are extremely well saturated and accurate looking. Contrast is also extremely strong, helpful in some of the more shaded sequences.
New World Blu-ray, Audio Quality
New World features a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix in the original Korean. Immersion is very well handled here, including a glut of great foley effects which are placed very well around the side and even rear channels. A couple of the big set pieces, including the elevator showdown, are viscerally impressive with their sound design (though occasionally the effects need to compete with the film's thumping, bass heavy score). Dialogue is cleanly presented and well prioritized, even in the sonically busy segments. Fidelity is excellent and dynamic range is extremely wide.
New World Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
New World Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
New World is a complexly structured and rather dense entertainment, and so it requires the kind of close attention that some filmgoers aren't willing to invest. For those who can navigate the admittedly confusing first half hour or so, the film pays off in spades—and then some. With a number of really well done (and for once, relatively unexpected) twists and turns, Park keeps the viewer guessing until virtually the last moment of the film. The performances are also uniformly engrossing, especially as several major characters turn out to be not exactly what they appear to be at first glance. This Blu-ray features superb video and audio, and even without much in the way of supplements, comes Highly recommended.
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New World Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway: New World - July 22, 2013
Blu-ray.com and Well Go USA are offering four members a chance to win a copy of New World. This South Korean thriller depicts the interplay between an undercover policeman and an organized criminal syndicate. New World streets on July 23.
• New World Blu-ray (Updated) - April 22, 2013
Texas-based distributors Well Go USA have revealed that they are planning to bring to Blu-ray Hoon-Jung's action thriller New World (2012), starring Choi Min-Sik (Oldboy), Hwang Jung-Min (A Bittersweet Life), Lee Jung-Jae (The Thieves), and Song Ji-Hyo (A Frozen ...
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