By Calum Marsh
By Michelle Orange
By Michael Atkinson
By Simon Abrams
By Zachary Wigon
By Aaron Hillis
By Casey Burchby
By Stephanie Zacharek
Cops and criminals—they're all the same! So says South Korean writer-turned-director Park Hoon-jung, again, with New World, which like his last screenplay, I Saw the Devil, embraces a rather tired two-sides-of-the-same-coin moral equation. When a corporate crime boss is killed, ambitious would-be successors Jung (Hwang Jung-min) and Lee (Park Sung-woong) square off for the boardroom throne, all without knowing that thorn-in-their side chief inspector Kang (Oldboy's Choi Min-sik) plans to manipulate this power transition via his longtime undercover mole, Jung's right-hand man Ja-sung (Lee Jung-jae). Nonstop chatter in which Jung, Lee, and Kang threaten each other is weighed down by the bluntness of Park's dialogue, and his intrigue-laden narrative's efforts to prop up crooks and drag down cops to the same level—culminating with a twist that finally compels Ja-sung to "choose a side"—feels strained and didactic. An excessively bloody sequence that finds Jung battling five knife-wielding assassins in a cramped elevator is the only moment of intensity. The rest of Park's direction is sleek and assured, but lacking the dynamism that might help energize a film that—its title notwithstanding—comes off as dully old-school.
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