Friday, March 22, 2013

Park Hoon-Jeong's NEW WORLD, in which power just keep congregating until... doesn't matter whether it's the supposed good guys (the police) or the bad (a corporation made up of the top criminal gangs) who wield it. Because they're pretty much the same thing. So it goes in the new movie NEW WORLD, from Park Hoon-Jeong (who earlier wrote I Saw the Devil and here both writes and directs) -- just as, I am beginning to believe, it goes in today's almost totally power/money corrupted world.  Mr. Park does a good job of both writing and directing, allowing us to follow an incredibly twisting path that doesn't conclude until the very last of the end credits have rolled and the final visual scenes -- rolling right along with those end credits -- have played out. (Don't walk out during those credits, or you'll miss some more fun.)

New World, indeed. The filmmaker (whom I believe is shown at left but I could be wrong) is cer-tainly onto something, and that something isn't confined to Korea. We see power colluding all over the globe, what with globalization, inter-national banks "too big to fail" (but please, let's allow them this honor), and our own Supreme Court siding (just barely but enough to do the job) with corporations and money over citizens and democracy. So this latest bit of provocation from Korea seems on target and only slightly pumped up from reality.

When the head of the corporation that combines the major crime syndicates is suddenly killed in a freak car accident (which may very well have been planned), someone must replace him. While the movie spends the rest of its time in internecine warfare between possible successors, all this is aggravated by the fact that these fellows, to a man, it would seem, are all either in the pocket of the top policeman (above) assigned to oversee the gangland investigation, or an actual police plant (below) who has for ten years been rising to the top of the gang's hierarchy.

There is a little too much exposition of character and history wedged into the dialog, but as the film rolls along, there is enough violence and action to keep us occupied and wincing (feeding one poor fellow accused of betrayal a milkshake made of cement is the opening gambit).

 Midway along, there's a terrific automobile/gang fight (above) resulting in one of the possible successors entering an elevator (below) only to discover... hmmm: I'll just say you're in for one hell of an enclosed-space fight scene.

The movie, while perhaps not the best of its genre, is good enough to add even more luster to Korea's already ripe reputation for grandly entertaining, over-the-top, genre film-making. It joins the recent BAM series, the continuing Tribeca Cinema Korean film series, the theatrically-released The Berlin File, and the numerous Korean films that can now be streamed via Netflix to provide an up-to-date look at what's coming from a country that is now arguably the most exciting and entertaining film capital of the world.

New World, from Well Go USA Entertainment and running a lengthy but never uninteresting 134 minutes, opens today, Friday, March 22, in New York City (at the AMC Empire 25) and fifteen other cities across the U.S. and Canada. Click here to see all currently scheduled cities and theaters.

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