‘New World’: a cold, stylish South Korean gangster drama
A movie review of “New World,” an elegant and impassive South Korean mob drama that focuses on an undercover police operation.
Special to The Washington Post
‘New World,’ with Lee Jung-jae, Hwang Jun-min, Park Seong-woong, Choi Min-sik. Written and directed by Park Hoon-jung, 134 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (contains graphic violence, profanity, smoking). In Korean and Mandarin, with English subtitles. Several theaters.
The title of South Korean director Park Hoon-jung’s latest movie, “New World,” derives from the name of an undercover police operation. A gangster-run corporation, Goldmoon, is about to choose a new boss, and the cops want to secretly control the succession.
This premise won’t seem particularly new to fans of Hong Kong cops-and-gangsters fare. But if the Korean box-office smash doesn’t offer any thematic surprises, it does pack a lot of style.
“New World” opens with the bloody face of a man who has been tortured and is about to be executed. The victim is a Goldmoon flunky, accused of providing inside dope to the cops. In fact, the informant (Lee Jung-jae) is a cop who has posed as a gang member for eight years and has become the trusted aide of Jung (Hwang Jun-min), one of the two men most likely to take control of Goldmoon. The other contender to run Goldmoon is Lee (Park Seong-woong), who represents the clan that founded the organization.
Punctuated by stately funerals and chaotic melees, “New World” is as elegant and impassive as its suit-wearing thugs. During a crucial sequence that cuts from one bloody situation to a very different one, “New World” feels as heartless as the men it depicts.