Apparently in Korea, criminal have become much more organized than their counterparts here in America. In Korea, they have adopted a corporate model, with separate divisions, officers, board meetings and the whole lot. This film depicts a criminal organization known as Goldmoon and undercover police officer Ja-sung (Lee Jung-jae) who is tasked with infiltrating the organization, which is the largest crime syndicate in Korea. His handler Chief Kang (Choi Min-sik) is a real bastard willing to put the screws to this guy to get what he wants at whatever the cost. After eight years, Ja-sung becomes the right-hand man to the ring’s second-in-command Jung Chung (Hwang Jung-min), who holds real power. But when its leader is killed in a mysterious car accident, Goldmoon is thrown into a succession struggle that threatens to tear it apart. With a baby on the way, Ja-sung is desperate to retire, however Kang forces him to stay on as rival factions quickly develop around two prospective leaders, the gang’s number 2, Jung Chung and number 3, Lee Joong-gu (Park Sung-woong).
Top-level police officials initiate “Operation New World” to intervene in Goldmoon’s selection process for the next leader, and to use the leader’s death to their advantage to control the crime organization. Caught between Jung Chung who trusts him with his life, and Kang who thinks of him only as bait, Ja-sung is cornered by both bosses on opposite sides and must make a final decision that rests on loyalty and betrayal. And the best part is that he sells his ruthless handler down the river having him killed by group of thugs known as the Yanbin Hobos. Since all information about his activity was wiped from police files, he takes over control of Goldmoon and no one is the wiser. Given his situation, frankly I can’t blame him.
This is a great gangster movie that shows what can happen to people if they are forced to play role for too long i.e. life begins to imitate art. Ja-sung remains undercover for 8 years moving his way up this well organized criminal enterprise. The stress causes his wife to have a miscarriage, and she also is forced to spy her husband by the unfeeling handler. Under this kind of immense pressure, his actions, though legally wrong, are understandable and in fact seem like his only option for survival. As you watch this well-acted film you find yourself rooting for the bad-guys simply because the “good guys” are no better than the people they are persecuting—bending and breaking the very laws they claim to uphold to justify an end that is questionable at best.
Another great Korean “wave” film in my opinion with all the elements that make gangster movies fun, it is gritty, avoids the typical Holly Wood ending where the good guys somehow always prevail and shows the authorities in a very different light than say the American tripe seen the Untouchables. It is currently on Nexflix to take a couple of hours and see for yourself and let me know your thoughts.