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Review: ‘New World’ a tense crime-syndicate showdown

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Loyalties are tested, futures are reconsidered and the body count climbs in the effective action import “New World.” Writer-director Hoon-jung Park tells this twisty story of internecine warfare within a Korean corporate crime syndicate with patience, elegance and no small amount of bloodshed.

The title refers to the name of a national law enforcement operation that’s launched to close in on the ruthless, multi-tentacled Goldmoon organization after its omnipotent head, Seok (Geung-young Lee), dies in a car accident. It also marks the culmination of a longtime dismantling effort, led by relentless police chief Kang (Min-sik Choi), in which cop Ja-sung (Jung-jae Lee) has been working undercover inside Goldmoon as a highly placed right-hand man.

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Now, with Seok out of the picture, the late boss’ key lieutenants, Jung (Jun-min Hwang) and Lee (Sung-woong Park), are free to battle it out for Goldmoon’s top spot, no holds barred. But can Ja-sung bring down Jung and Lee before his own secret status is revealed when hackers infiltrate the police department database?

Plenty of tense table-turning and brutal one-upmanship ensue as Ja-sung struggles between his increasingly blurring roles as lawmaker and lawbreaker. Thanks to Park’s deftly drawn characterization and Lee’s deeply etched portrayal, there’s a compelling Michael Corleone-like vibe to Ja-Sung and the moral uncertainty he faces amid the blinding — and age-old — promise of power.

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“New World.”

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No MPAA rating.

In Korean with English subtitles.

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Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes.

At CGV Cinemas, Los Angeles; Regal’s La Habra Stadium 16; Edwards’ University Town Center 6, Irvine.

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