New World (2013)

Genre: Crime, Thriller














New World is a second movie from new face in South Korean cinema Hoon-jung Park, who started his career as scriptwriter, better known to us for his work at brilliant movie I Saw the Devil. Now he's stepped up a notch and this is his second movie that he not just directs, but writes a script for. Someone to keep an eye on in future.


It all starts when a chairman of major Korean crime syndicate dies in a traffic accident. Power struggle begins to name his successor. Two rival groups within are committed to take the chair, one is led by jest Jeong Cheong (Jeong-min Hwang) and his right hand Ja-seong (Lee Jeong-jae), other by sinister Lee Joong-gu (Seong-Woong Park). But there is third player involved in the game, police who have planted mole in the organization and now are trying to influence movements within to their own interests. Who will come out as a victor in this game?

While the premise must sound familiar or even cliche to any crime genre fans, events that unfold during the film and in the end are not so typical, and will leave these viewers most definitely satisfied.


Film is about big fish of crime world, and everything is clean and expensive there. Good looking people, expensive cars, beautiful apartments and exquisite office buildings. It's just a good looking movie itself to support the events it's showing. Even when the hands get really dirty, which they do, it keeps it's good looks.

Some really solid cinematography and good actor casting for lead roles, it's always a pleasure to look at Min-sik Choi's acting. Supplemented with quiet, almost classical, ambient music so fit to the theme of the movie.

As I wrote above, it's a good looking film, a film about top brass of organized crime in best traditions of the genre, and more. Well worth a watch.

Blu-ray | DVD from Amazon

A Bittersweet Life (2005)


 Genre: Action, Crime, Drama













One late autumn night, the disciple awoke crying. So the master asked the disciple, "Did you have a nightmare?" "No." "Did you have a sad dream?" "No," said the disciple. "I had a sweet dream." "Then why are you crying so sadly?" The disciple wiped his tears away and quietly answered, "Because the dream I had can't come true."

Before I write anything more about A Bittersweet Life (Dalkomhan insaeng) I have to say that it is one of my most favorite movie ever, not just from South Korean, but cinema in general. A masterpiece by Jee-woon Kim that made me fall in love with his work, and opened my eyes to many amazing films his countryman produce. It swept away awards from many Asian film festivals and got positive critical response from western audiences, but still remains unknown to most viewers that are unfamiliar with Asian cinema.


Sun-woo (Byung-hun Lee) is right hand Mr. Kang (Yeong-cheol Kim), who is a boss of major crime syndicate. For years he has served loyally and without a fault to his employer, and now he has high level hotel complex under his strict management.

During one meeting, Mr. Kang, reveals to him that he has a mistress, a young girl named Hee-soo (Min-a Shin), and while he goes on a trip, he asks for a favor from Sun-woo, to keep an eye on a girl, and see if she is cheating on him. A seemingly easy task that goes sour, when Sun-woo discovers that she is in fact unfaithful to Mr. Kang. Unsure what to do, as his loyalty starts to crumble, Sun-woo decides to keep his findings secret...

Movie so full of style and coolness factor, carried by it's star, brilliant and famous Korean actor Byung-hun Lee, yet it has so much substance beneath it all to think about when credits roll. Suspenseful crime thriller, with noirish undertones, featuring that type of lone protagonist, found in many great movies like Le Samurai with Alain Delon.

Director Jee-woon Kim doesn't just stop there, fantastic cinematography, amazing camera work, with many new takes on action scenes, that all feature brilliant choreographing. A memorable scenes, characters, and bit of directors trademark brutal violence to make it proper gangster movie. And to seal the deal, incredible soundtrack, that I find myself listening to quite often.

A gem of Korean cinema. Must see.

DVD from Amazon
Blu-ray (Directors Cut) from YesAsia