New World 신세계 (2013)
Writer/director Hoon-Jung Park (I Saw the Devil, 2010) makes it a point in New World to bring the viewer in the thick of things in a hurry, putting us right there beside our lead, undercover cop Lee Ja-Sung (Jung-Jae Lee). He plays gangster on the upper crust of the mob’s big-business food chain, getting rich quickly, dishing his fair share of the mob’s storm, and offing those that complicate his role to blend in. He plays it too well some may argue, but he has to play his hand to a tee or else.We understand it’s not been easy, him genuinely wanting to get out. It seems he finally has it in the bag, and the exit’s made an appearance. Though, there is always a fire to burn before a neat goodbye, and the mob is sure to make it a buttery one.
The mob’s corporation loses their chairman after a hit from someone assumed inside. Goldmoon, this seedy fodder of a mob corporation used to tell of their wealth and power, many fingers in pies, and dishing out of the shady, starts a countdown for stakes to soar, an expected falling to come of their business if they don’t find a new chair.
Sung has made his presence on the side of the bad a welcomed one and keeping to his duty as an officer, complying to their ethics, becomes more difficult than he originally bargained for. Although his police superior Chief Kang, played to part by Jung-Jae Lee (Oldboy), made to be deflated and all used up, tries to keep Sung in the loop and out of harm’s nasty way, but Sung often finds Kang frustrating, that force prolonging his time more and more, it feeling like that of a prison sentence. The mobster’s path appears safer, their loyalty, willing to fight and die even, is attractive, not to mention the amenities that money can afford are shiny like that of a Rolex. He does have a baby on the way, and fathers can’t run with scissors.
Neo Noir — Film Review
It becomes particularly frantic when the force finalizes its plans to bring the gangster syndicate down, it all during the board\\\’s re-election waiting game, the Goldmoon seat dusty. Sung questions who really put out the hit, and much heat builds inside and out, the sect loyalties all flexing and fidgeting to make for the force’s move into the mess a not so smooth one, and Kang desperate to know if Sung is truly good anymore makes for high tension. Secrets get out of hand in a gorgeous neo-noir esque way, and scenes fill the frame with some fresh intensity I\\\’ve missed, like those of a graphic novel.
If you subscribe to impatience, this two and a half hour crime film may test your limit for what is slow, the first thirty minutes kind of nudging along. Park brings up needed back story, tie-ins, and nifty black shadows for both sides to hide behind. But after, you are in for an ultimately entertaining, turning change of pace on the gangster/crime genre, many men coolly dressed all in black, their cigarettes subtly smoked and toyed with.
It is particularly enjoyable to find Sung’s friendship with “brother” Jeong get tested, them appearing to have long history together, finding each other’s presence beside one another comforting, their backs mutually covered at least from one angle. They both find interesting ways of dealing with their s–t piles, one’s first bigger, then the other’s.
Background characters are plentiful fill-in that is much appreciated, it all blackened and bowed down, showing the massive quantity of perhaps more knowledgeable, loyal followers in the real front lines of the danger, more so than the heads. The bad are better equipped though in their suits and expensive leisure, and they seem sharper too It\\\’s another point made for the coolness found in film violence I\\\’m guessing, looking good. The entrance of some Yanbian hobos and their revelation for line of work is nice and entertaining. Their airport scene is quirky and odd, but very real, I would imagine, for their kind (workers of an exotic line) to mess up.
If there is anything I could improve this film on it would be difficult to form; the end picture really is well defined. Park has a very clear image of his violence, needing it to be gored only sometimes and looking stylized the rest. He keeps most of the dark stuff off frame, us needing to feel it’s too much to handle. It does escalate, but only to move plot forward, timed to keep beat with your heart (it will change), choiced to premiere in tidbits, keeping you satiated with the right kinda fix of conflict. Violence to be enjoyed for the sake of being entertainment and release.
What makes this film enjoyable is its clean attraction toward dynamic images, those of the gritty and glamorous togethered, giving the air of them being so cool, albeit petty. It gets to point the danger makes the suits and style small things, a bigger story left to be unraveled. The questions are begged: is it really necessary to find out who has the bigger stick? And is the line between the two really all that difficult to cross? Much of violence in film knows the latter to be a laughable no.
By the midway point, it might become more difficult for viewers to follow what’s what and who’s who, but the line dividing the good from the bad is never dolled up or made faint. It’s a very visual thing to be seen, one that characters will want you to notice and make a point of reference.
Jung-Jae Lee – (Lee Ja-sung)
Min-sik Choi – (Section Chief Kang)
Jeong-min Hwang – (Jeong Cheong)
Seong-Woong Park – (Lee Jung-gu)
Ji-hyo Song – (Sin-woo)
Favorite Scene: A one line of dialogue near the end. – “What a twist.” A neat stinger at the end keeps you aroused too.