As the vast army of Indian movie directors extend their long-standing love affair with raw sewage, the tiny crop of Korean film-makers continue to make great strides.
My uncontainable passion for all things Korean led me recently to two gangster movies, New World (original title: Sin-se-gae, 2013) and A Company Man (original title: Hoi-sa-won, 2012).
I’m happy to report that both are gripping crime dramas, well worth your time.
New World is easily the better of the two with a more riveting story, a better cast and a superior director.
Now if you believe media reports, a Hollywood version of New World is in the works with Sony having purchased remake rights for the English version.
New World – Bloody Triumph
When the Goldmoon crime syndicate’s top boss Seok Dong-Chul meets his end in a car crash while returning from his young mistress, the group is thrown into a succession struggle.
Seok’s two key chieftains, Jung Chung (Hwang Jung-min) and Lee Joong-gu (Park Sung-woong), who loath each other are vying for the top job.
Unbeknownst to either Jung Chung or Lee Joong-gu, an undercover police officer has infiltrated the Goldmoon criminal gang for the last eight years.
Trapped between the insanely violent devil (gangsters) and the deceptively smooth waves of the deep sea (police), the undercover cop finds his balls in a vice.
Fearful of being exposed and completely stressed out, the undercover agent finds himself unable to get out of his dangerous assignment despite earlier promises by his police bosses.
For those who still fantasize that the law is always on the right side, New World should be an eyeopener.
The movie ends with a brilliant twist after a series of violent battles and betrayals.
New World is an extremely well crafted movie with remarkable acting, a script that keeps you glued to the screen and twists that jolt you upright.
Easily one of the finest, classiest crime dramas I’ve seen in recent years.
New World director Park Hoon-jung comes with impressive credentials.
He wrote the screenplay for one of my favorite Korean films – I Saw the Devil (2010), a bloody film featuring the sui generis Korean actor Min-sik Choi of Oldboy fame.
And to my immense delight, Min-sik Choi has a key role in New World.
With his customary elan, Min-sik Choi plays the senior police officer who’s been squeezing the undercover cop’s nuts without respite by reneging on his promises.
New World is a remarkable crime thriller and I have no doubt you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
A Company Man
Although not a richly nuanced, layered crime movie like New World, the hitman focused A Company Man (directed by Sang-yoon Lim ) is not a bad watch.
The focus here is almost entirely on contract killer Ji Hyeong-do (So Ji-sub), a ‘white collar employee’ at a ‘metal company.’
As with all criminal outfits, there’s no safe way out for wannabe quitters.
The way out for gangsters is either to be caught by the cops or meet a violent end on a deadly assignment. There’s no third way.
But for our assassin Ji Hyeong-do, either option is a non-no.
More so after he meets a single mother and his cold heart starts to soften.
So when the hit man signals his intention to quit the company the massive counterforce against him is only to be expected.
I had no issues with the acting of or main character So Ji-sub or the others, or the photography.
But unlike with New World, the violence in A Company Man tends to get tedious, particularly toward the end.
Violence, off-screen or on-screen, can chill and thrill only with the ballast of a brilliant narrative.
New World and A Company Man are available on Netflix Instant for streaming.