New World opens exclusively this week in Houston (at the AMC Studio 30) and outside of the French film series playing at the MFAH this weekend it should be your first choice. And when you consider that the competition includes the potboiler Olympus Has Fallen, it’s a pretty easy call.
A gritty crime drama from Korea, New World represents the sophomore film from writer/director Park Hoon-jung who also wrote I Saw the Devil, the latter one of the better South Korean films in recent memory. Basically NW deals with what could be considered a common theme in Korean films, the double agent or deep undercover cop who finds his loyalties twisted between the bad guys and the good guys. After all, Scorsese’s The Departed was a remake of the Hong Kong Internal Affairs.
The film opens with the mob torturing a traitor in a warehouse next to a harbor. Before it’s over the guy tied to a chair has a metal funnel forced in his mouth and cement poured down his throat, at least that’s what I think it was. Certainly wasn’t oatmeal.
The mob boss dies in a car accident and factions within the group vie for the new leadership. Meanwhile the police supervisor who handles the mole makes his own move against the organization. Lee Jung-jae and Choi Min-sik star. New World has a great look emphasized by shadowy lighting and sharp dressed gangsters.
- Michael Bergeron