Ja-sung is an undercover police officer, who has ascended the ranks of the crime syndicate to which he was assigned, to the point of becoming the right hand of the number 2 in the hierarchy, named Jung Chung. However, when the number 1 is killed, the syndicate engulfs in a power struggle for the top position, between Jung Chung and Joong-gu, which eventually escalates into war. Ja-sung, who was to retire soon, must now keep acting in his role, since his operator named Kang Hyung-chul is set on influencing the leader’s selection, putting a puppet of his at the top of the syndicate. The fact brings tension between the two.
Park Hoon-jung directs an agonizing crime thriller, which contains the usual violence, anti-heroes, impressive action sequences, and stylish gangsters in their suits, along with the much-loved plot twists. However, the film’s main point of excellence is its characters, with the thin balance that dominates their relationships constantly shifting, in a game of death where nothing is improbable, as it is most eloquently stressed in the film’s finale.
Another point of excellence is the acting, with each of the main protagonists performing their respective roles magnificently. In that fashion, Lee Jung-jae plays the perpetually anxious Ja-sung, who has to maintain his cool composure when he is in the company of Jung Chung, acted with brio and overall artfulness by Hwang Jung-min, in both his calm moments and his outbursts. Choi Min-sik is great as always, in the role of a cop that is not so much different from the people he is after.
Technically the film is magnificent, particularly in the action scenes, that mostly occur in large spaces like warehouses, airports, and construction sites, where the elaborateness of Chung Chung-hoon’s cinematography and Cho Hwa-sung’s set design becomes more obvious.
“New World” is another Korean masterpiece, in a genre where the country does not seem to stop producing films of extreme quality.