New World Blu-ray Review
Sitting down to watch NEW WORLD from South Korean director Hoon-jung Park (screenwriter of the phenomenal I SAW THE DEVIL), I must have had some crossed expectations. Inside the Blu-ray packaging is an insert with several martial arts films I have been eagerly anticipating (THE GUILLOTINES and MUY THAI WARRIOR), the same two movies given trailer space at the front-end of the Blu-ray experience. NEW WORLD, however, is not at all a martial arts picture. In fact, in hindsight I realize it would be a bit of a disappointment if it had been. Instead, NEW WORLD presents a tense, dramatic story of organized crime with some incredible performances, almost a Korean THE DEPARTED.
NEW WORLD is the story of a Korean business, “Goldmoon,” which happens to also be a powerful crime syndicate. Unlike western stories where organized crime is focused on a ruling family, the ruler of the syndicate and the head of Goldmoon are one in the same. So when the current Chairman dies unexpectedly, his two deputies begin a dangerous game, jockeying for power and sway over each other. But in the middle of all this is a single man, undercover policeman Ja-seong (Lee Jeong-jae). Ja-seong has been undercover for 8 years and is second-in-command to one of the rivals for the throne.
Ja-seong has been living a lie all these years but now that he’s been called upon, to execute plan “New World” in the void of leadership, he must decide where his loyalties actually lie. Should he, and can he, reclaim his former life after all this time? The Chief of the special investigations unit, Section Chief Kang, is played by Min-sik Choi (OLDBOY). Kang is the only member of the force with absolutely no fear of Goldmoon. He believes in the work he has put together to finish this investigation, and the years he has spent working on this case.
Working within the medium of dramatic cinema, Hoon-jung Park asks a lot from his actors, and with few exceptions they don’t disappoint. He presents a world that is at once familiar and entirely foreign, a world of business deals and double-crosses, of murder and extortion, ultimately bridging it all through a single man’s perspective. Lee Jeong-jae gives a stark, emotive performance and the work of both Choi and Jeong-min Hwang are really well done, though still a bit strange to anyone not well-versed in Korean culture. Still, NEW WORLD plays out like a Korean GAME OF THRONES and slowly (SLOWLY!) builds to an epic and dramatic conclusion.
Stories of corruption, undercover police officers, crooked businessmen and organized crime have always interested American moviegoers. With the advent of DVDs, internet streaming, and now finally Blu-rays we get to see a lot more foreign cinema than ever before and the similarities and differences between cultures. Of the Korean films I’ve had the opportunity to watch to this point, very few have struck my fancy though they have been interesting to watch from an anthropological standpoint. NEW WORLD is a layered incredibly interesting story. I highly recommend it if you enjoy a good drama.
NEW WORLD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.35:1) NEW WORLD features a decent picture but the pallet is rather drab, really nothing you’re going to notice here.
Audio: (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The sound is mixed well but in a dialogue heavy film like NEW WORLD there are issues making out what everyone is saying.
Making Of (04:23) This is a reasonably fun, if incredibly short, look at the making of NEW WORLD. I’m a fan of the flick but disappointed in the lack of special features.
Picture Gallery (05:01) A photo reel is presented here showing pictures from NEW WORLD.
NEW WORLD doesn’t feature any other special features, which is a little bit disappointing, but at least the Theatrical Trailer (01:38) is included on the disc.