New World Blu-ray Review
Written by Michel Sabourin
Blu-ray released by Well Go USA
Written and directed by Hoon-jung Park
2013, 135 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on July 23rd, 2013
Jung-Jae Lee as Lee Ja-sung
Min-sik Choi as Section Chief Chang
Jeong-min Hwang as Jeong Cheong
It's easy to look at the basic plot line and say it's a mere take-off of Mou Gaan Dou (aka Infernal Affairs, the Korean film that inspired The Departed), but it's not a fair view, and doesn't give New World enough credit for its own merits. New World is a fantastic, gripping, and shocking gangster movie with more clever plot and loyalty twists than most movies can handle. But, considering writer/director Hoon-jung Park is the writer behind I Saw the Devil, another gut-punching, edge-of-your-seat, thrilling Korean movie, I can't say I'm surprised at how much I loved this movie.
When a writer/director can take a clichéd plot and elevate it to a new level, it's a welcome surprise. The leads, Jung-Jae Lee and Min-sik Choi (also of I Saw the Devil), give stand-out performances among a bevy of fantastic actors. The pace is frenetic yet even as the plots, subplots, betrayals, loyalty switches, and a fine host of serious violence and not too shabby gore turn you this way and that and then back around. I found myself wishing I could speak Korean so I wouldn't need to look away for even one scond, so as not to miss any of the pieces to the puzzle.
In a very non-spoiler view of the story, an undercover cop placed high in an organized crime family finds himself questioning whose side he's really on after the head of the family passes and a war between the successors build. As I said, on paper that could be quite trite and pedestrian, but Park writes a fantastical tale that delivers surprises without sacrificing story and character development. It helps that there are so many strong personalities at play and so many moving targets that the viewer can never rest or make assumptions in the plot.
I cannot stress enough, without spoiling the plot, how much I really enjoyed this movie and how much I hope more people see it. It's longish, but I didn't find myself checking the runtime in exasperation. It's brisk and things happen fast. So much so, that I found myself instead wondering what else could possibly happen, since so much occurs in the first half, you can barely catch your breath before the latter half starts the rollercoaster all over again. It's a fun ride, grab the speed pass and get in line.
Video and Audio:
Beautifully shot and rendered at 16:9; full of color and light cues to match the moods and character traits of certain individuals. New World is full of stunning camera work and shot choices by a crew that understands and can handle bombastic action as well as subtle emotional cues.
The 5.1 HD Surround Sound mix is well done. The score, especially during action sequences and emotional moments, shines.
Not much in the way of special features except for a supposed behind-the-scenes look at the movie that is more of a pseudo-gag reel and photographic production diary than anything informative or even entertaining.