New World (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
July 17, 2013 by Dennis Amith
“New World” is one of the more impressive gangster noir films I have seen a long time for Asian cinema and cinema in general. Highly recommended!
TITLE: New World
FILM RELEASE: 2013
DURATION: 135 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 16:9 Widescreen, Korean DTS-HD MA 5.1 and Stereo, Subtitles: English
COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment
RATED: NR (Not Rated)
Release Date: July 23, 2013
Directed and Written by Hoon-Jung Park
Executive Producer: Jae-Duk Han, Hyun-woo Kim
Producer: Woo-Taek Kim, Min-jung Park
Cinematography by Chung-hoon Chung
Edited by Na-yeong Nam, Moon Sae-Kyung
Min-Sik Choi as Section Chief Kang
Jeong-min Hwang as Jeong Cheong
Gwang Jang as Director Yang
Lee Jeong-jae as Jae-seong
Ji-hyo Song as Sin-woo
Choi Min-shik first made a name for himself in theater before breaking into the film world with a role in Park Chong-won’s acclaimed film ‘Our Twisted Hero’ (1997). In the mid-nineties he continued to act in theater productions as well as in several TV dramas, including Moon Over Seoul with Han Seok-gyu. 1997 marked his return to motion pictures, with a role as a tough-talking police investigator in Song Neung-han’s No. 3. His biggest role came in 1999, when he was cast in Korea’s most successful film ever, Swiri. His portrayal of a North Korean agent garnered him much praise and a Best Actor Award from the 1999 domestic Grand Bell Awards. After starring in a theater production of Hamlet in spring of 1999, Choi took on the role of a husband who discovers his wife’s infidelity in Happy End, and in early 2001 starred as a third-rate gangster opposite Hong Kong actress Cecilia Cheung in the acclaimed Failan. In 2003 he starred in the now classic Oldboy.
From Park Hoon-jung , director of “The Showdown” and writer for “I Saw the Devil” and “The Unjust”, comes a South Korean noir film starring Choi Min-sik (“Oldboy”, “Swiri”, “Lady Vengeance”), Lee Jung-jae (“The Thieves”, “Il Mare”, “Over the Rainbow”) and Hwang Jung-min (“Road Movie”, “Swiri”, “Road Movie”).
Receiving critical praise for its storyline, nominated for various awards and doing extremely well in the Korean box office, “New World” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in the U.S. courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.
“New World” begins with the death of the leader of Goldmoon, the largest crime syndicate in Korea. With a pending board meeting to find new leadership, the police under Chief Kang (portrayed by Choi Min-sik) have been trying to find a way to infiltrate Goldmoon and stop the crime syndicate by interfering with the selection process which they dub “Operation New World”, so they can control the crime organization using their own people.
Following closely on who may be the next leader, expected to lead Goldmoon is Jung Chung (portrayed by Hwang Jung-min), the second-in-command but also wanting that top spot is the #3, Lee Joong-gu (portrayed by Park Sung-woong) and both #2 and #3 have an intense rivalry towards each other.
But assisting #2, Jung Chung is Ja-sung (portrayed by Lee Jung-jae), the right hand man and unknown by the crime syndicate, is an undercover police officer that was placed in the crime syndicate by Chief Kang.
But with a baby coming, Ja-sung no longer wants to be part of the crime syndicate but Chief Kang blackmails Ja-sung that if he tries to come out, the crime syndicate will know that he is an undercover cop and will be killed.
But as various people try to take on the role as the new leader, for Ja-sung, to keep himself and his family alive, will he align himself to the crime syndication that he had infiltrated years ago or to believe in the police that recruited him?
“New World” is presented in 1080p High Definition. The first thing that I noticed about the film is how beautiful the cinematography is for this crime thriller. With cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon (“Oldboy”, “Stoker”, “Lady Vengeance”) involved, aside from the dark, gritty and bloody situations that happen in the film, Chung manages to incorporate stylish scenes that add to the visual enjoyability of this noir film. So, while Chung adds a little creative flair to his cinematography, the way he covers action is wonderful. The scene that showcases an important action sequence inside an elevator was wonderful and just impressive to see of how it was orchestrated.
Closeups are full of detail, colors are natural and overall picture quality looks magnificent. I personally didn’t notice any artifacts, banding issues or anything negative during my viewing of the film.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“New World” is presented in Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Stereo. While I wished for a more immersive soundtrack during the more action-heavy scenes, dialogue is crystal clear and for the most part, the lossless soundtrack does sound good. I didn’t hear any problems with the audio while watching this film.
Subtitles are in English.
“New World Order” come with the following special features:
- Making Of – (4:23) A short behind-the-scenes making of “New World”.
- Photo Gallery – (5:01) A collage of stills from “New World”.
- Trailer – The theatrical trailer for “New World”.
“New World” comes with a slipcover.
“New World” was one of the more surprising, crime thrillers that I have seen in a long while.
Once you think you have the film figured out, there are quite a good number of twists that happen throughout the film and for the most part, you will be surprised and after the film is done, left feeling that you watched one hell of a crime thriller!
While there are a good number of Asian noir films, part of the enjoyment of “New World” is seeing star talent in this film. Choi Min-sik is a wonderful actor and adds to the film as the always smoking, always blunt chief who is trying to do his job by having the police infiltrate the criminal organization of Goldmoon, but in the process, knows that people he selects to infiltrate the company may be nothing but pawns and as he calls the shots, he treats his operatives as if they are expendable. But yet you wonder if the side of law is enough to defeat crime in this film.
But Choi Min-sik is a man who is no doubt one of the best film actors in Korea in the last 15 years. From “Swiri”, “Happy End”, “Failan”, “Oldboy”to countless films that he has starred in, he has proven to take on every role and even as Inspector Kang in “New World”, the man brings an edge to his character.
Meanwhile, you have Lee Jung-jae, another wonderful actor playing as the operative who wants to leave the crime syndicate to tend to his pregnant wife. But his character of Lee Ja-sung is the most interesting because he makes viewers feel sorry for him for being thrusted into this role of infiltrating the crime syndicate but now putting himself on the line. For what?
But for those who grew up watching Lee Jung-jae on the big screen, may it be the romantic comedy “Il Mare” and “Over the Rainbow” to a comedy such as “Oh! Brothers”, he has definitely proven himself to take on action films such as his role in “The Last Witness” and “Typhoon” and even most recently with “The Thieves”. He’s one of the more diverse actors in Korea and his role as Lee Ja-sung will keep you captivated because you want to see if he’ll survive by the end of the film.
Add in the two opposing crime leaders played by Hwang jung-min and Park Sung-woong, two leaders wanting to be the new head of Goldmoon and you get a film with a high body count, a lot of blood and one of the most memorable gangster fights I have seen since the Shaw Brothers 1985 film “Hong Kong Godfather”. Suffice to say, the visual of the brutality featured in this gangster film was not overdone and it’s a type of violence that fits this film and its characters.
But when loyalty leads to backstabbing and plot twists are revealed, I think that audiences will find “New World” to be quite intriguing, exciting but a good example of a crime thriller that focuses on character plots not just brutal violence.
“New World” looks amazing on Blu-ray and the cinematography by Chung Chung-hoon is fantastic! Lossless soundtrack could have been more immersive but dialogue, sound effects are crystal clear. Subtitles are in English, but I did question the use of the translation “Chinks” for the Chinese gangsters. But I would assume the words used by the Korean gangsters towards the Chinese gangsters were probably derogatory and thus the translation fit. But having watched many Asian films for decades, I think it was the first time I have seen a subtitle translation using the word, as other translators would have been more politically correct and used the ethnicity and add “punk” or something not as harsh.
As for special features, you get a short behind-the-scenes making of, still gallery and the theatrical trailer for “New World”.
Overall, “New World” is one of the more impressive gangster noir films I have seen a long time for Asian cinema and cinema in general. Filmmaker Park Hoong-jung has shown he can write and direct but when partnered with a talented cast and cinematographer, he can create an amazing film.
With its talented cast, the amount of characters, the amount of violence and how the violence was staged (and choreographed) to its exciting and wonderful storyline and cinematography,”New World” is a film that I highly recommend!
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