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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

New World
(Blu-Ray & DVD Dual Format)


Starring: Lee Jung-jae, Choi Min-sik, Hwang Jung-min and Song Ji-hyo
Distributor: Eureka Entertainment
RRP: £12.99 (Blu-Ray & DVD Dual Format)
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 15 January 2018

Having spent nearly nine years undercover with the south Korean mafia, Lee Ja-sung's nerves are starting to fray. No longer committed to his task, due to his wife being pregnant, he is nevertheless pressured by his police chief, Section Chief Kang, to stay in place with the promise of a transfer overseas where he and his wife will be safe. When the current head of Goldmoon, the largest crime organisation, is killed, Lee is thrust into the middle of the battle for power between his under boss Joeng Cheong and his rival Lee Joong-gu…

New World, original title, Sinsegye (2013. 2 hr, 15 min, 06 sec) is a crime drama, directed by Hoon-jung Park from his own screenplay. The film won eight awards and was nominated for a further twelve.

Our main POV character is the torn Ja-sung (Jung-jae Lee) who realises that he is having a growing difficulty in distinguishing his role as a cop and his role as vicious gangster. His desperation to get out of the bind is putting an intolerable strain on his life, but even so Kang (Min-sik Choi) won’t let him leave, always promising something better for him... soon... A future that doesn’t seem to be getting any closer.

Kung launches a new operation ‘New World’ which involves Ja-sung, but the director keeps both his main character and the audience in the dark as to what this means, leading to one of the film's major twists. This is not the only twist in the tale and the story cleverly keeps you guessing as to which way Ja-sung will finally turn, honest cop or committed gangster.

His under-boss, Chung (Jung-min Hwang), seem to have no conception that Ja-sung is a cop, even when someone close to him turns out to be a police officer, in fact another mole who has infiltrated the circle, not to gather intelligence about the syndicate but to spy no Ja-sung. There is a spider at the centre of the web, pulling people's lives apart and his name is Kang.

Park has created a very taut drama with all the violence of Goodfellas (1990), but also with the moral dilemma of The Godfather (1972). Ja-sings dilemma is how to survive, not only the war that is erupting between completing gang under bosses, but also how not to get caught. Much of the film is about Ja-sung choosing sides, but as the film progresses both Ja-sung and the audience realise this is not such an easy choice as the line between the police and the gangsters becomes even more blurred.

To say more would only ruin what is one of the best gangster films I’ve seen in a long time. The film may look long but the pace never slackens, making for a compulsive watch. The cast is excellent, especially the four main characters. The confrontations between under bosses Chung and Lee Joong-gu are intensely thrilling. Thankfully most of the violence is played straight, although there is one close fight where the actors are obviously not stabbing each other, but I guess it was that or rubber knives, it remains an effective scene.

This was only Park's second film, although you would not know it and the cinematography by Chung-hoon Chung and Eok Yu deserves a special mention with both the shots and the colour pallet, with an overall blue/green screen, adding greatly to the film's look. The score from Yeong-wook Jo never fails to support the action

The film's transfer is gorgeous on Blu-ray with good fine detail and an overall crisp look. The movie is presented with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, presented in 1080p. There are two audio options, both Korean, with English subtitles. The DTS-HD 5.1 has very good separation and depth, the LPCM 2.0 also does a decent job. There is only a single extra on the disc, the original theatrical trailer (1 min, 35 sec).

Its been a long time since I have seen such a nuanced crime thriller, South Korea is justifiably renowned for this type of film and Park has not disappointed.


Charles Packer

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