New World Blu-ray Review
Korean Infernal Affairs
Korean writer/director Park Hoon-jung's sophomore film is an epic crime thriller in the vein of Infernal Affairs, spinning a web of Godfather-esque gangster machinations.It's no surprise that the rights have been bought up for a Hollywood remake, no doubt putting a wrench in the plans to make this a trilogy - as per the superior Infernal Affairs trilogy - and that can only be a shame given even the legendary Scorsese could only do so much to bring something fresh to his inferior Infernal Affairs remake, The Departed. New World itself plays with many familiar beats from those movies, as Lee Jung-jae's undercover cop struggles under the weight of a decade working as a gangster, with the biggest Korean crime syndicate leaderless and Choi Min-sik's police chief putting pressure on him to steer the vote for a new boss.After writing scripts (including the dark serial killer thriller I Saw the Devil), Park Hoon-jung eventually made the transition to writer and director, and it's astonishing that his second movie could be such an accomplished work, playing out its twist-laden complexities without relying upon all-out slaughter to maintain interest; putting his faith instead in great actors like Choi Min-sik to provide weighty support to his leads as they steer you through the maelstrom. Although some might see too much Infernal Affairs crossed with The Godfather in here, that's because the genre is so overpopulated; in spite of this, New World still manages to stand out.
Picture QualityEureka's Montage Pictures brings the 2013 Korean thriller New World to UK Region B-locked Blu-ray complete with a largely stunning 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen.
Shot digitally with a Red One camera at resolutions in excess of 4K, and rendered with a 2K Digital Intermediate, New World looks gorgeous, showcasing tremendous detail, rich textures and lavish colour tones, with no signs of any defects. It's as near as dammit to Blu-ray perfection.
Close ups reveal the finest of textures on faces - the very pores and lines on the remarkably smooth visages, and every strand of hair on the well-groomed heads - whilst the wider shots bring the settings to life with fine observation of the interiors of restaurants, and ill-fated parking garages and elevators. Exteriors benefit from excellent lighting and superior direction, whilst each location accentuates the obvious tones commensurate with it - the airport boasting some greenish yellow hues, the restaurants more wood-dominated, and the dockyards steeped in blue. Black levels are strong and rich, affording some impressive shadow detail and rounding out a reference release.
Sound QualityThe accompanying original language Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is also pretty spectacular, balancing the slow-burn thrills and heightening tension of the piece with some standout moments of violence and action, playing out soft score undertones to keep the pot brewing whilst effects give it some welcome atmosphere.
A great little soundtrack
Dialogue remains firmly prioritised across the frontal array, with decent subtitles to allow you to keep pace with the piece, and plenty of the dialogue scenes take place with no scoring and little in the way of frills, allowing the tiniest of subtleties to come to the fore, from the clink of a lighter to the clip-clop patter of posh shoes on the floor. Cars screech around with guttural engine sounds but - aside from that early shocking smash - things remain relatively quiet in terms of effects, focusing on precision rather than bombast, and crafting a welcome atmosphere to the crime proceedings. When things do kick off, the track is happily on board with the change in tempo, bringing the ambushes into your living room, and the score similarly slow-burns its way through the tension building whilst waiting patiently for something more explosive. It's a great little track, precise and punchy.
ExtrasNothing but a trailer
Blu-ray VerdictInfernal Affairs crossed with The Godfather
Eureka's Montage Pictures finally brings the excellent 2013 Korean crime thriller gangster epic New World to UK Region B-locked Blu-ray complete with outstanding reference video and audio and, even with no extras beyond a trailer, it's a must-have release. Highly recommended.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £10.99
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