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After India's father dies, her Uncle Charlie, whom she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her unstable mother. She comes to suspect this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives and becomes increasingly infatuated with him.
Sang-hyun, a priest working for a hospital, selflessly volunteers for a secret vaccine development project intended to eradicate a deadly virus. However, the virus eventually takes over the priest. He nearly dies, but makes a miraculous recovery by an accidental transfusion of vampire blood. He realizes his sole reason for living: the pleasures of the flesh. Written by
Pusan International Film Festival
Chan-wook Park, you have to hand it to the guy. In my eyes, he's not only a brilliant director but a brilliant director who can turn his hand to any genre and often provides something refreshing yet still ultimately satisfying.
Thirst is, essentially, a vampire tale but one that plays fast and loose with some of the "rules" of the subgenre. Kang-ho Song plays Father Sang-hyeon, a man who unselfishly gives himself over to a research program and then unselfishly kind of catches the disease they are trying to cure, dies and comes back. All thanks to the blood he was transfused with. Being the only one of the subjects to survive, he becomes quite the celebrity to those who know him and all he wants is to get back to normal. Normal, however, now involves being able to leap great distances without injury, wanting to drink blood and getting severely hot under the collar when rays of sun get on his skin. It's not long before he's living with a rather dysfunctional family unit who knew him in his childhood and while he hides his new, strange lifestyle he finds himself drawn into a complex love triangle, becoming more acceptable of darker thoughts and sliding down a slippery slope that could lead him from man to beast to monster.
Deftly blending a number of genres, Park's movie felt much fresher and more original to me than Let The Right One In (to use a recent example) and genuinely impressed me with it's approach to material that could easily have felt as well-worn and rehashed as any number of other vampire movies we've seen over the years. It's a mixture of horror, melodrama and comedy while also pondering ideas such as strength of faith, the power over life and death, the downside of immortality, etc, etc.
Some people have complained that this genre-blending approach weakens the movie but I personally found that it was a lively, entertaining and always enjoyable movie helped by a great central performance from Song as the tortured priest and fantastic turns from a supporting cast with no weak links. Many characters get to move through a range of emotions and all do so with skill and believability, especially the young woman (played by OK-vin Kim) who becomes the object of the priest's love, lust and affection.
Fans of Asian cinema (and Park in particular) and also fans of Poe's "The Tell-tale Heart" (watch and learn) should lap this up, it's yet another classy movie from a man who seems to take everything in his stride and always manages to put out nothing less than solid entertainment.
See this if you like: Cronos, Near Dark, Dellamorte Dellamore AKA Cemetery Man.
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