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Ride the Korean Wave: A New World (2013).

A New World is the first entry in a planned trilogy—thank god.

Those of you who know anything about South Korea know they’ve been making fantastic movies for the past decade or so.  Some have dubbed this phenomenon the Korean wave; I say keep surfing with the movie A New World.  This is a fantastic first installment of what could be one of the greatest gangster series ever made.

Apparently Korean gangsters have gotten smart and organize themselves into corporations or at least pseudo-corporations that run not only legitimate businesses but their illegal activities as well.  The chairman of Goldmoon, South Korea’s largest crime syndicate, is killed in a mysterious car accident, and the battle of who will take over the position begins.  One of the candidates is Ja-sung, an undercover police officer who has been operating for eight years and is at the end of his rope and promised retirement, but the police force him to keep working and threaten to leak his identity if he refuses.  Who are the real criminals here?

 

The police break their promise to Ja-sung a second time again refusing to let him retire. Moreover, Ja-sung’s wife was pregnant, but the stress from Ja-sung’s profession results in the baby being still-born.  But our friendly police officers show no sympathy for this tragedy.  It’s a good thing payback is a bitch.  Because our undercover cop pulls off the ultimate coup—in fact the idea was even given to by his slave driving boss; that is, Ja-sung had already secured the loyalty of Jang’s men, leading to Jang’s own death, as well as Ja-sung’s succession as chairman. Feeling deeply betrayed by the police, Ja-sung decides to become a full criminal. He orders the murder of Chief Kang (his immediate cop superior) and Commissioner Ko (Kang’s superior) so that no record will remain of his police membership. He also murders Lee, his only possible rival.  The assassins he uses are known as the Yan Bin Hobo’s and when you see the film you will know why.

The last scene is a flash-back from six years ago, when Ja-sung was still beginning as an undercover police officer.  He and Jung, at that time a low-level member, successfully kill a much larger group of rival criminals, seemingly enjoying the process. This demonstrates Ja-sung’s early corruption and also the depth of Jung’s friendship with him.

If you miss this film you have only yourself to blame.  It is currently playing on Netflix so you don’t have to go through some back channels to find it.

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2015 in Movie Reviews

 

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I changed my mind. Instead of reviewing Iris, I decided to go with “New World” (2013) another great Korean “wave” film.

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.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2015 in Movie Reviews

 

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