This week’s Film Friday features the 2013 box office hit, New World; a thrilling, enigmatic film with layers of deception, mystery and tension. Writer-director Hoon-Jung Park, who also directed ‘I Saw The Devil’, narrates the story of this gripping gangster thriller with atmospheric cinematography and stylish direction. New World differentiates itself from other films within its genre. The distinctive characters and the intimate plot spins are key to creating this Korean classic. The brutal violence and torture scenes are interjected with intimate character development.

New World is known as ‘the Korean Godfather’ as it centres around a huge criminal organisation reminiscent of the Italian mafia. “Goldmoon”, the crime syndicate, faces tough decisions when their leader is killed in a car crash. The National Police Agency seize the perfect opportunity to intervene by utilising the right-hand man who is an undercover cop. Ja-Sung (Lee Jung-Jae) has been posing as a gangster for eight years and when operation ‘New World’ is enacted, he is forced to choose between the agency, the syndicate and his life. Ja-Sung is supported by an army of suited thugs as he attempts to snatch the leader spot from his rival, Jung Chung. His boss back at the National Police Agency, Kang (Choi Min-Sik) convinces our protagonist to continue with his role as the mole but Ja-Sung is torn between loyalty and chivalry.

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It’s an operatic crime thriller with naturalistic characters. The fantastically layered and enigmatic script proves powerful as the cast deliver slick dialogue and hilariously witty lines. I have seen countless Korean crime-drama pictures but New World seems to create another level for future films to exceed.

New World received three awards in its release year. At the Blue Dragon Awards, Jeong-Min Hwang won Best Actor and Seong-Woong Park won Best Supporting Actor. And, at the Catalonian Internation Film Festival, Hoon-Jung Park took home the Focus Asia Award for his spectacular script and slick, artistic direction.

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