Without a doubt, South Korea’s crime thrillers rank amongst the best in world cinema. And New World is the latest proof supporting that claim. This box office hit from 2013 boasts a rock solid cast that includes some of the hottest male stars from South Korea today: Lee Jung Jae (The Thieves), Choi Min Sik (Oldboy) and Hwang Jung Min (The Unjust).
New World tells the story of the struggles amongst and between the police and a group of gangsters. After the head of a crime syndicate is killed, the race is on for a number of contenders to become the next leader. Meanwhile, the police are keeping a close eye on what is happening in this gang election…
The acting from the leads is uniformly superb. Lee, Choi and Hwang are all convincing in their respective roles. And as the story progresses along, the line between good and evil becomes increasingly blurred and the characters are made all the more intriguing as a result. There are also a couple of female characters in the film, but their roles are relatively minor. That is a shame because there are some interesting plots surrounding them that feel underdeveloped. In terms of action, there are some well-staged (and at times incredibly violent) scenes, with one set in the car park being particularly memorable.
As I was watching New World, I drew the conclusion that writer/director Park Hoon Jung (who also wrote the scripts for I Saw The Devil and The Unjust) is a big fan of Hong Kong cinema. His film has abundant resemblances to Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s Infernal Affairs, Johnnie To’s Election and John Woo’s Hard Boiled. What makes the film work, however, is the director’s skilful mixing of all the elements into an entertaining and satisfying whole. It is a really well-made film that should please all fans of crime thrillers and those who love Asian cinema in general. I highly recommend it.