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A heretic genre piece from Park Chan-wook
lasttimeisaw3 June 2015
A vampire love story loosely based on Émile Zola's THERESE RAQUIN, Chan-wook Park's THIRST (its original Korean title literally means: bat) is a blood-soaked psychological thriller about a Catholic priest Sang-hyun (Song Kang-ho), after experiencing a death-defying recovery owing to an undisclosed blood transfusion during his volunteer mission to find a vaccine for a deadly virus, he becomes the only survivor among all the infected, which attracts many devotees to worship him as a miracle from God. But the reality is that a craving for human blood has been commenced after the incident, the virus is still plaguing him, his skin is afflicted with blisters, only human blood can prohibit the symptoms and turn him into a nighttime creature endowed with all its well-established trappings like self- recovery, human-exceeding agility and strength.

So he becomes a vampire priest, battles his thirst for blood and sexual lust aroused by his metamorphosis, and also, it is a game-changer for his devout faith. He is reunited with his childhood friend Kang-woo (Shin), who is diagnosed with cancer, and his mother Lady Ra (Kim Hae-suk). But it is Tae-ju (Kim OK-bin), Kang-woo's wife, who is an orphan raised in the household, en-kindles Sang-hyun's repressed desire, deeply affected by Tae-ju's wretched story of being abused by both Kang-woo and Lady Ra, he ventures into a sexual relationship with her, eventually leads to a premeditated murder, afterwards, both plagued by guilt and haunted by the dead, their rapport internally disrupts when Sang-hyun finds out Tae-ju's ulterior motive, after a violent commotion, Tae-ju has been brought back to life as a vampire. The rest of the story can be viewed as a doomed romance driven by the incongruous nature between a man and a woman who may or may not love him.

The film harvests a Jury Prize in Cannes 2009, a massive domestic box-office champion too, it highly encapsulates Park Chan-wook's stylishness of drenching gore with nimble camera-movement and lurid colour scheme, paves the way for his next step into mainstream Hollywood with big star vehicle STOKER (2013). Notably, it also inquires into one's utmost challenge to his religious belief, Sang-hyun is as much as tormented by the ascetic canons of Catholicism as his sexual impulse and blood-thirst after the infection, until the final abandonment of his saintly embodiment before he meets the crucifixion.

Song Kang-ho, the most bankable film star in South Korea, diverts from his regular kind guy persona, embraces his fatalistic destruction with compassionate commitment, flares up with retro sheen under Chan-wook's slick versatility either in CGI-embroidered sequences or the claustrophobic settings where blood is running amok. Kim OK-bin, a newcomer then, triumphantly trumps all the veterans in her stunning depiction of Tae-ju's conflicted personalities and raw seduction, both actors also bravely engage in stark nude scenes which are still not common to be seen on the mainstream territory. Kim Hae-suk, as Lady Ra, achieves a different kind of thrill using only her eyeballs to dictate the most compelling set piece of suspense, and remains as the most uncertain variable up until the very end, indeed, all three performances are mind-blowing in this heretic genre piece, and Park Chan- wook is destined to continue his streak as an iconoclast condemning the morbid society by spiking bloodshed into violence and sex in a more global scope.
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Different kind of Beast
kosmasp4 November 2009
No pun intended. I'm not going to spoil anything about the story, but it's safe to assume that you already know, what kind of character the main actor portrays. And of course being a priest while being "naughty" exaggerates all that. Plus this is the most erotic movie from Park Chan Wook yet.

If you have seen Wook's previous works/movies you know he is very visual (in a good way) and it shows again here. While it strays away from the vengeance theme of his prior movies on the surface, it still has quite some heat hidden underneath. And when that boils, quite a few bad things start to happen. But through all that dark, there also moments of light (fun) to be had too. A very stylistic and though provoking movie, that lives outside the mainstream and does a very good job ...
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Every bit as good as the Vengeance trilogy
zetes22 November 2009
From the director of Oldboy comes this slick vampire flick. Kang-ho Song stars as a priest who is accidentally changed into a vampire while being cured of a deadly, mysterious virus. His vampirism and priesthood are quite at conflict, but he is able to survive by robbing the hospital's blood bank and unconscious patients who might not mind some siphoned blood. Because of his supposedly miraculous survival, he comes into the lives of Ha-kyun Shin's family. Shin has cancer, and his mother believes that Song can cure it. Unfortunately, Song's vampirism raises his levels of lust to a height where he can't help but fall for Shin's young wife, OK-vin Kim. Kim is intensely interested in the world of vampirism, and the two become lovers. The film from there goes in weird directions that I think one should experience for themselves. What really should be mentioned is Chan-wook Park's mastery of the medium of cinema. My God, I've rarely seen such a masterful visual artist at the peak of his powers. The major flaw of the film is that it's a little incoherent, especially near the beginning. Park is interested in telling his stories mostly in the visuals, which can be difficult to follow at times. But when it works, man, does it fly. The film is also perversely hilarious. The final sequence, easily one of the best of the decade, is simultaneously heartbreaking and delightfully ridiculous. OK-vin Kim should become a worldwide star after this film. She gives one of the best performances of the year.
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Weird and Original Vampire Tale
claudio_carvalho16 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
In Korea, the dedicated Priest Hyo-Sung (Kang-ho Song) volunteers to work in a special research of the Emmanuel Virus, a.k.a. Curse of Bazira that does not affect African, only Caucasian and Asian; However he contracts the disease and dies, but after a blood transfusion, he surprisingly survives among the fifty volunteers and is considered saint by the worshipers. Sooner Hyo-Sung finds that the transfusion was made using vampires blood and he is thirsty for blood and lust for woman. Hyo-Sung finds a way to get the necessary blood without killing innocent people. When he sees Tae-ju (OK-bin Kim) that he met in Pusan when he was a teenager, Hyo-Sung learns that the young woman is abused by her husband Kang-woo (Ha-kyun Shin) and by stepmother Lady Ra (Hae-sook Kim). The priest has sex with Tae-ju and sooner they plot a scheme to get rid of Kang-woo. Then Hyo-Sung turns Tae-ju into a vampire, but the blood spree of Tae-ju forces Hyo-Sung to an ultimate decision.

"Bakjwi" is a weird and original vampire tale from Oldboy's director Chan-wook Park. The plot is totally unpredictable with many twists and despite the unnecessary and long sex scene of Kang-ho Song and the gorgeous and talented OK-bin Kim, the story is engaging and disturbing, blending religion, romance, drama, black humor and horror. The cinematography is another plus and the camera work explores unusual angles. OK-bin Kim's performance is stunning with a wealthy character that oscillates between innocence and evilness. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Sede de Sangue" ("Thirst of Blood")
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Romance, Religion, Madness, and lots of slurping
tjackson21 August 2009
Not for the squeamish, but the number of twists, inventive uses of situations using vampire mythology, gorgeous visual extremes, together with interesting and quirky characters make this one of the most stunning horror films I've ever seen. It descends into utter madness along with characters, but never seems exploitative or horrific without purpose. There are copious amounts of bloodletting accompanied by some nasty sucking and squishing sounds, but also subtle moments where you laugh out loud. As he tends to do, Chan-wook Park keeps you off center with leaps in time and plot and situation that you have to fill in for yourself forcing your involvement in the story and characters.

And there's a lot of literal leaping. Keeping in the vein of vampire myth (pun intended), they have superhuman strength and can nearly leap tall buildings in a single bound (to coin a phrase). The first time our heroine is carried by the across the tops of buildings by the troubled vampire priest, it has all the magical romance of Lois Lane and Superman - but this romance becomes increasingly disturbing - but driven by a strange and conflicted 'love affair' not by mere horror.

The acting is superb, particularly OK-vin Kim, the gorgeous actress in the female lead role who, at 22, shows a range that is remarkable. The character borders on a kind of black widow film noir type. She careens from innocent to impish to vixen to demon with utter conviction. This is a really smooth and nervy performance.

If you love real art in horror, or are a fan of Oldboy - don't wait for the video, see it immediately.
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Unique twist on the vampire film
Leofwine_draca20 September 2012
More excellent film-making from Park Chan-wook, who shows no signs of flagging in his quest to bring his unique brand of inventive and unique movies to the world. This is his version of a traditional vampire movie, and while it's not quite as quirky as I'd expected from this director, it certainly packs a punch and proves a breath of fresh air in a cinematic world inundated by the latest Twilight movies.

Put simply, THIRST holds your attention. The storyline, about a priest who finds himself infected with a blood virus and then is slowly transformed into a bloodsucker, is never less than thoroughly entertaining. It goes without saying that the direction is flawless – every scene and sequence is expertly crafted, leaving no margin for error. Emphasis is on characterisation throughout, which is always a strong point, and the actors have the talent to fully bring their roles to life; the main actress is particularly fascinating.

Overall, this is a gruesome, gripping, melancholic look at the world of the vampire. Be warned, it's explicit and often in your face, but as with the rest of the director's output, this is a film that sets out to challenge assumptions and overcome cliché. It works a treat.
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One of the best recent takes on the vampire genre
Indyrod17 May 2010
Talk about getting your socks knocked off, this newest amazing movie from Park Chan-wook's would be my favorite new take on the vampire genre, if not for "Let the Right One In", which still remains my fav, but this one is right behind it. A Catholic Priest volunteers for some radical medical experiments, that turn him into a vampire. He tries his best to be a good vampire, and not kill anybody, but it's pretty clear, that's going to be rather difficult. Park mixes in some black comedy into this one, just as he does in most of his earlier films, but the subject matter is dead serious. It also has one of the best vampire sex scenes I have ever seen. The vampire Priest steals blood from hospitals and anywhere he can find it, but when he meets his new lover, things pretty much go downhill, when she wants to become a vampire too. This is an excellent entry into the vampire genre, and continues Park Chan-wook's amazing body of work. This is not to be missed, every minute of the 134 min running time is entertaining as hell.
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The ultimate 'Twilight' antidote
Radu_A7 December 2009
'Oldboy' director Park Chun-wook returns with what must be one of the yuckiest and at the same time most serious vampire flicks in movie history.

Trusting the latest Hollywood fad, vampires these days are supposed to be rather nonviolent, asexual, love-lorn chevaliers instead of the evil rampantly sexual blood-sucking mind-manipulating man-beasts of yore. This is the film you want to see if you want to remember the sticky thrills of the past... well, at least in the second half.

'Thirst' starts out with a lengthy character exposition culminating in a slightly different love story. The vampire transformation of a priest is, over quite some time, sidelined by the romantic and sexual aspects of the story, which makes for some awkward viewing. But the last 40 minutes or so are surprisingly gory. Well, maybe not so surprisingly if you know 'Oldboy' and 'I'm a Cyborg but that's OK', but I guess it's fair to say that 'Thirst' beats Park's earlier films in terms of in-your-face violence.

All in all, be warned that this is neither art cinema nor a horror flick. It may be too disgusting for many and too tame for some. 'Thirst' is original, entertaining and fortunately a little less weird than Park Chun-wook's earlier endeavors.
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A vampire film but different
Simonster15 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Viewed at the Festival de Cannes 2009

Sang-hyun, a beloved and admired priest in a small town serves devotedly at a local hospital. He goes to Africa to volunteer as a test subject, is infected by a deadly virus and dies. A blood transfusion brings him back to life and turns him into a vampire. Word spreads that he is a healer and people flock to him. Among them is an old friend, Kang-woo, and his wife, Tae-ju. She and Sang-hyun begin a love affair, which soon spins off into murder. While Sang-hyun tries to hold onto his humanity (he refuses to kill and has a novel way of getting the blood he needs), Tae-ju really gets into this whole vampire thing, whereupon Sang-hyun realises something has to be done.

Fans of Park Chan-Wook will have no trouble with this film. Yes, all his visual tricks and techniques are there, but he sets them in scene as skillfully as ever.

The performances, every single one of them, are all top notch. The blood, when it comes, is red and raw. At the same time, this is still very much the thinking person's vampire film. If you're into wooden stakes, bats, garlic, holy water, decapitations etc. then this isn't the film for you. If you enjoyed, for example, Abel Ferrera's The Addiction (1995), then it most definitely is.

Typically for a park Chan-Wook film, especially coming on the heels of I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK, there is a lot of humour; black, mordant and very funny, both visual and verbal. The audience at the press screening laughed frequently and often loudly.

The fact it's a vampire film may deter some viewers, which would be a pity. It makes me want to say "It's a vampire film, but ..." and then tell them why, if that's a problem, they should overcome it and give the film a chance. It would also be unfair to call Thirst (to use its international title) a horror film, given the connotations associated with that label. If you can accept Master And Commander as a buddy / relationship film, as well as an action-adventure, then I hope you know what I'm trying to say.

If I have one criticism to level against this film, it's the length. 133 minutes are just too many. It could lose quite a few of them with no harm to the narrative or characterisations. But that is not a reason not to seek out the latest film from this excellent Korean writer-director.
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Beautiful, tragic, twisted, absurd, and darkly comic
yfguitarist14 August 2009
If you love Chan-wook Park, you know what to expect. His films are brutal, poetic, tragic, and artistic, with splashes of very grim humor. THIRST is clearly Park's style, and I loved every second of it, from the cinematography (every shot is gorgeous and creative) to the story, which blends Shakespearean tragedy, murderous love, Gothic horror, and layered character drama. The characters are complex and there is plenty of moral ambiguity to go around. Even the most sociopathic character evokes sympathy. The direction is restrained and the performances are nuanced - like SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE, there are too many subtleties to take in on the first viewing. Chan-wook Park is an intelligent, bold, consistently surprising filmmaker. It's unpredictable - scenes go from brutal and heart-wrenching to laugh-out-loud hilarious in an instant. This is closer to LADY VENGEANCE then SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE as far as being over-the-top and comical. But, like LADY VENGEANCE, it's incredibly rich, thought-provoking, and rewarding.

If you like beautifully told vampire stories (LET THE RIGHT ONE IN) or are a fan of Chan-wook Park, seeing THIRST should be obvious. Easily one of the best films of 2009.
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Something different from Park Chan-wook
Tweekums29 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Having enjoyed previous films from director Park Chan-wook, The Vengeance Trilogy and I'm a Cyborg, I was keen to see what he would bring to the vampire genre; I was not disappointed. Kang-ho Song plays Sang-hyun, a Catholic who volunteers to take part in an experiment to find a vaccine an incurable disease. He catches the illness but unlike everybody else he survives after a blood transfusion and people believe he is a miracle worker. He soon discovers that he requires more blood if he isn't to relapse. Working in a hospital he gets the blood he needs from a coma patient. When he is invited to join in a game of mahjong with a childhood friend he realises blood isn't the only thing he thirsts for; he is drawn to his friend's wife Tae-ju. They are soon in a physical relationship and she tells him that her husband has been abusing her, in order to protect her he kills his friend during a fishing trip. Soon after the two lovers are haunted by the guilt of what they did and Kang-ho lets slip that she was not in fact abused; on learning this Kang-ho kills her but is so overcome with guilt that he gives her his own blood and she returns as a vampire. She is not like him however; she is not satisfied with blood stolen from the hospital blood bank and starts killing people. He may have given up the priesthood but he still believes that it is wrong to kill people so takes drastic action to prevent her from killing again.

This was a really good story which was an interesting twist to the genre and avoided the usual clichés; there were no fangs, garlic or harm from religious symbols. The acting from Kang-ho Song and OK-bin Kim, who played Kang-ho, was very good, the development of their relationship seemed believable despite their unusual circumstances. As one would expect from an 18 certificate vampire film there was plenty of gore, there were also quite a few sex scenes although it didn't feel like they were there for titillation. I would certainly recommend this to anybody who likes vampire films unless they have problems reading subtitles.
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The director of Oldboy finally makes a minor mis-step.
oneguyrambling7 November 2010
A few years back I saw Oldboy. Up until that time in my life I had watched hundreds of foreign language films, loved some and endured others, but nothing to that point gave me the adrenaline rush that this film did.

After Oldboy I sought out the director's other films, loved Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, really liked JSA and thought Sympathy for Lady Vengeance was worthwhile also, if a notch below the rest.

For those keeping score at home, that is a 100% strike rate of 4 out of 4 films. If any director makes 4 strong films in a row I always look forward to whatever they come up with next with great anticipation.

So when I saw that director Chan Wook-Park had a new movie coming out, and that it was a vampire movie? I mean come on. It has to be good doesn't it? Yes and no, Thirst holds true to Wook-Park's deliberate skewing of conventions so that this is not your Twilight, Underworld or Lost Boys vampire film.

That's a good thing by the way.

But at 2 hrs 15+ minutes there is a little too much "filler" here to sit through in between the stronger scenes, which realistically don't have the impact of Wook-Park's better movies.

The movie opens with a Priest named Sang-Hyeon, who is so selfless and giving to humanity that he volunteers himself as a test subject for a horrible disease that basically blisters the skin until the sores and boils explode and move into the respiratory system, killing the infected in a horrible and painful manner.

Sang-Hyeon is expected to die, indeed 500 other infected people did... And he does, temporarily at least.

Upon his return he is now a symbol of purity, having been the only known survivor. He is treated much like a religious figure, something that he so uncomfortable with that he practically goes into hiding, staying with the family of a childhood friend.

Now the friend is basically an idiot, he is married but treats his wife like sh*t, as does his Mother who lives with them, but it seems at this point that Sang-Hyeon has nowhere else to go.

What no-one else knows though, as a result of the blood transfusion that kept him alive through his treatment Sang-Hyeon is now a vampire, but his religious beliefs don't allow him to kill to slake his thirst. He instead volunteers his priestly services at a local hospital and siphons the comatose and suicidal. After ingesting the blood Sang-Hyeon is temporarily "super", in a way that many other cinematic vampires are all the time, although without fresh blood he quickly reverts back to a deteriorating state until another fix is available.

Another side effect of gorging is that he is super-sensitive, and being around the young wife triggers thoughts that only dramatic bouts of self flagellation can quell, (look it up, it's not what you think).

Eventually though Sang-Hyeon allows himself to let the "little priest" go to work, and he and the wife quickly embark on a passionate and clandestine affair, with each episode temporarily returning Sang-Hyeon to full strength.

It is at this point that Sang-Hyeon decides to tell the wife of his dreadful secret, and after the understandable initial shock she "volunteers" to join Sang-Hyeon.

Now that Tae-Joo is a member of the SPF 100+ club, this brings a new obvious wrinkle to her life, as she still must endure the unwelcome existence that is being the dogsbody of the childish Kang-Woo and his controlling Mum.

And from this point the dynamic of the film changes dramatically, with Tae-Joo rapidly coming to terms with the requirements that being a vampire necessitates, and Sang-Hyeon having his own self written code of ethics turned upside down.

Chan Wook-Park doesn't "do" genre films. He seems to start with a core idea or plot element and builds around it with so many other facets that eventually what remains is a film that obeys certain conventions but twists the implementation to the point that the movie becomes almost impossible to categorise.

The two "sympathy" films were both revenge films at their core, as was Oldboy, only not in the Death Wish or cowboy revenge film way. Nothing is that simple in the Wook-Park universe.

Sang-Hyeon isn't a bad guy in the way that we would ordinarily consider a guy who sucks the blood from the living, nor is he an anti-hero. He is a priest who has become a vampire not through choice, who has learned to deal with his situation.

Even the most obvious choice as the "bad guy" in this case, Kang-Woo's Mum, is basically just doing what many other Mothers would (to a point).

Kang-Ho Song, who plays Sang-Hyeon, is in many Wook-Park films, and he is ideal here. He has a great round expressionless face that rarely shows any feeling or passion, and slits for eyes that also don't give anything away - regardless of circumstance - he is equally believable as both a priest and an unwilling vampire here.

While I liked Thirst, and I must admit I would have loved to have the opportunity to spruik a "Korean vampire movie" to my mates, I think that there is just a little too much missing here to give it a strong recommendation.

(Maybe I am a little disappointed because it was a great director that made this admittedly average film, I'm not sure yet.) Final Rating – 6.5 / 10. Not a big step backward for Chan Wook-Park, but just a little below his normally strong output. Would benefit from a few more edits.

If you liked this review (or even if you didn't) check out
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Not, not, NOT at all what I thought, pleasant surprise, Park excels again
akkoziol3 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Now that I have seen it, it was NOT what I was expecting, at least not until the very END. I read some of the other reviews before picking up a used copy of this from Amazon and was glad I did. Having been first introduced to Park's work via Oldboy, I was curious to how he'd treat the genre and was rather pleased at the clever manner in which he executed it. I think Park has matured in terms of presentation because while Oldboy and some of his other work has very nice and deliberate camera work, he has some nice innovations in Bakjwi that I had not seen in other vamp movies. For example the scene where Father Hyeon is realizing the "beast" growing within him as he gives his shoes to the always barefoot Tae-ju and he is able to SEE the blood pumping through Tae-ju's skin and his eye's widen in blood-lust for it. That was a nice effect. I was also happy that Park did not CG the crap out of the movie and the is in fact very little CG at all. I came away from Bakjwi being totally set up to think one thing was going to happen and get taken for a ride in true Park fashion. Additionally, I liked that Park played with a little symbolism and reversal whereas we don't usually get this is Asia cinema. During the beginning of the movie we see the plot develop slowly and get to know the characters and you feel like an invisible observer to the thing that are transpiring. Park treats you a little like Ghost of Christmas future coming to show you, albeit a bit boringly, what life is like outside your world. Ah, but then we start to feel a little kinship with the befallen Father and his burgeoning lust for Tae-ju and conflict with duty as a priest. We almost start to root for them even until Park not so nicely slaps us back into reality and we really see that in the end Bakjwi is a movie about moral dilemma and right and wrong. It won't spoil it if I tell you to watch Bakjwi from the mindset of a priest and I think you'll come away from it with what Park wants you to come away with. Don't expect Oldboy and stylization because that's not what you'll get here. A very interesting take on the genre indeed. Those who missed the MANY literary elements and religious allusions watched some other movie, not Bakjwi. After Bakjwi, watch Let The Right One IN, it's also not what you'll expect either.
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Was hoping for more than vampire clichés from Park
udar5529 November 2009
Color me seriously disappointed. The vampire genre received some exciting new blood (boo yourself!) with Tomas Alfredson's film adaptation LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, so the idea of Chan-wook Park, the director of OLD BOY, doing his take on a vampire movie was pretty exciting. Sadly, despite tons of rave reviews and great buzz, I found this to be a huge disappointment. First, it is completely unfocused. The film runs 133 minutes and a lot of that time is spent on nothing really. Second, and this is what bothered me the most, is the film is a walking vampire cliché. The same old story of a girl finding out a vampire is so scary, yet so incredibly hot. The only saving grace here is that Song brushes his hair. Actually, I think he is quite good in the lead role (be thankful I didn't say he got to "sink his teeth into the role") but the script offers him little in terms of conflict. I think he is upset about keeping his celibacy vows for a few minutes and then spends the next hour and a half humping away. When he finally converts his charge, she unrealistically goes from mousy to bitchy monster in a finger snap. Again, it all works into a big pile of "Eh" for me.
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Xstal22 January 2022
Sang-hyun was a catholic priest, until his faith was challenged and then ceased, after taking a fusion, that removed his delusion, his appetite for blood has increased.

Tae-ju has developed a miasma, after feeding on Sang-hyun's rich plasma, started out as some fun, but things can't be undone, after a vampiric feasting orgasma.

A crimson wave of fornication and frivolity in a fabulously feverish fable of frustration.
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Originality and genius
imdb-1954819 December 2009
After watching Oldboy I was a little disappointed by the rest of Park's work, some of it is good but it never approaches the level of humour and originality that Oldboy had. This one does, it is nothing like Oldboy in plot or style but the same level of quality is there.

The acting is good with Kang-ho Song, OK-bin Kim and Ha-kyun Shin delivering excellent performances. Kim in particular manages to swap from the creepy horror scenes to the surreal comedy without the slightest misstep.

The plot is strange with lots of twists and turns and takes a big swipe at the vampire clichés.

The directing is spot on with tons of pace and humour throughout and some of the most memorable scenes I have ever seen. It does boast what is probably the weirdest love scene you will ever see.

This is just a great film.
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Cross-cross cultural
doctorsmoothlove22 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The vampire "craze" has, in my opinion, actually proved its worthiness of such infamous categorization. There were many sub-genre films last year from a multitude of countries. I've reviewed many and have a few more to discuss. Forgive my indulgence, but since I've recognized the trend as a phenomenon (which it is and, coincidentally, features my favorite horror staple). I'm going to now move outside of North America for a bit and introduce you to hopefully meaning films that you didn't see as of now.

Of the many effects of Twilight is the creation of "guy" and "girl" vampire movies. I hate this sexist categorization, which has the effect of polarizing an entire generation of fans into "sides". I think men are prone to hate Stephenie Meyer's work (and its offspring) to some degree because they feel some sense of betrayal that an archetype which was always theirs is now liberated. Women may be unlikely to enjoy future "neutral" pics since they grew up with ironclad expectations that were enforced four times. We need more directors to create vampire films which either gender is capable of enjoying (unequally) if vampires are going to survive the craze and remain relevant. Cue: Thirst This Korean film was directed by Park Chan-Wook of Oldboy fame. There are two ways to dissect it. Either it straddles between gender expectations and is universally marginally enjoyable, or it is a floundering mess that doesn't decide which target audience it prefers and should therefore be viewed by no one. Don't let me convince you that the film has no inclinations. Its director is a man whose fame is story-driven action films. Its protagonist is male and has a passive-aggressive interest in his lover (more on this later). Still, his desire for a woman he has known both before and after mortal life is not contrived, and his attention is returned. There is a male slant to this picture, yet it is not so one-sided that women could not enjoy it. The same cannot be said of Daybreakers or New Moon.

The plot follows an Emile Zola novel called Thérèse Raquin, which I have not read. According to Wikipedia, the novel is about an affair that develops between a married woman and a single man. He kills her husband during a fishing trip and begins dating her. The two of them are incapable of having sex because they picture the dead man's body between them. They are thus driven to insanity, but care for the woman's ailing mother. At the novel's conclusion, they try to kill each other, discover each other's plans, and commit suicide.

Now, transcribe this nearly 150 year old French novel into modern South Korea and you've got Thirst. Chan-Wook doesn't embellish the story enough to elevate this to must-see. He often ignores many of his own ideas in favor of following his inspiration. I think the most memorable parts are when his scruples are unhinged by narrative. His use of the mother-in-law as the foil for their bad romance is just perfect. See it.

The protagonist is originally a devout Christian who becomes a vampire after a faulty blood transfusion following his volunteering for a new medicine. He thus becomes the god he once was smitten with. People flock to him and view him as a grand healer. OK. That's really cool and could have provided a great basis for his relationship. Yet this idea is given little idea screen time as he changes into a realistic Christ figure who tries to maintain his virtue even though his lifestyle demands that he relinquish it. Instead of confronting the delusional people, he instead sips blood out of comatose hospital patients.

Let's continue with the Christian allusion. The woman tricks the vampire man into killing her husband. Her overprotective mother-in-law suffers a stroke and eventually warns friends of the family of her daughter-in-law's treachery (finger waggles). The man kills her but resurrects her. The two of them invite former friends over and the woman begins mercilessly harassing the humans. The man says enough is enough and decides to drive to a beach and forces her into waiting for sunrise with him. They both die, but he atones for her crimes (and his own but the film portrays her evil more prominently).

The woman character is a caricature, and her profession offers an explanation for her behavior. She is a housewife with no education, while the man is a priest whose mortal life was restrictive. Vampirism magnifies their characteristics. She becomes a monster like one would expect of someone without knowledge. He becomes a demigod with a spirit. His life is how atheists view themselves and her life is how religious people view those without divine intervention.
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Wow! Fantastic.
MissOceanB6 September 2012
Thirst: A bit speechless. Where to begin reviewing this film? Well, it is certainly a fantastic Thriller, some elements of Horror and Gore. It is unlike any film I have seen, and I have seen it all! Psychological, disturbing, creepy at times, culturally quite accurate (Korean), a must see for fans of Vampirism for sure, but also anyone that wants to see a disturbing, complex, form of a Thriller. I have not seen any other films by this Director but I certainly will be doing so now. Thirst has a bit of everything in it - not strictly about vampires by far. And to those reviews that mention that it is "Twilight" for adults? You have it wrong. It is nothing like Twilight. Yes, there are some similar traits but no, it is not a Vampire is SO much more than that and the other positive reviews are bang-on and speak for themselves. I particularly enjoyed the character developments, the struggles with faith, family, friends as well as the eerie facial expressions. What a creative and well-written story. You need to see this for yourself and come to your own conclusions!
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Better than i expected
c_alejandro_bm26 September 2012
I like to keep my reviews short, i rather review the film than compare it or describe it scene by scene like a lot of people like to do, so let's get to it.

I honestly came close to not finishing the movie because I was looking for scary and this isn't much of that, but there is A LOT of blood and violence. The only reason I kept watching was because even though it wasn't creepy or scary, it was a beautifully shot and very well made film. The story feels different than other vampire movies it's not just a bunch of the same old vampire clichés. the acting is good for the most part, personally i think the 2 main characters were amazing. It's kind of long, but the movie gets better as it progresses, the ending is nothing less than what You would expect(considering who directed the film).

So in short, if you're looking for scary in the traditional sense You won't find it here, but if You're a fan of the Vampire and gore genres or just want to watch a good movie You'll certainly enjoy it.
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allstar_beyond17 July 2009
I won't bore you with any synopsis, chances are you already know them. And hopefully you are already familiar with Park Chan-Wook's work.

I STRONGLY disagree with some of the other commentators in saying that "Park has not moved on from the vengeance trilogy blah blah blah." Because you know what? He HAS!!! The vengeance trilogy were different from each other in style to begin with, how can you even compare the sombreness and subtlety of "Sympathy For Mr Vengeance" with the frantic and extravagance of "Oldboy"? Park Chan-Wook has incredible style, but his movies don't all share the SAME style! That has been true and remains true with the release of "Thirst".

"Thirst" is an incredible picture, it literally has EVERYTHING you want in a movie. Jaw-dropping violence, tasteful gore, great humour, incredible suspense and even very realistic sex scenes. The story is so crazy that at no point can you guess what will happen next. I'm so happy to say that Park is back in top form with this fantastic dark-comic-vampire-love-story. Watch it as soon as you can!
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To say this is a vampire film its to sell it way short since its straddles so many genres as to almost unclassifiable. Its one of the best films of the year
dbborroughs21 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
(This has been edited for space)

Chan-wook Park's new film is a complex film that is not easy to classify. Nominally a horror movie, the central character is a vampire, the film actually has elements of comedy, theology, melodrama, cultural invasion (and its analog of viral invasion of a body), romance and few other things as well. It's a film that has almost too much on its mind. The film takes its own matters and mixes them with classic European literature, in this case Emile Zola's "Thérèse Raquin". It's an odd mix that doesn't always gel, but none the less has an incredible power. Here it is almost 24 hours since I saw the film at Lincoln Center (with a post film discussion by the director) and I find my cage is increasingly rattled. Its not so much what happens is bothersome, its more that its wide reaching story and its themes ring a lot of bells in retrospect.

The plot of the film has a will loved priest deciding that the best way to help mankind is to volunteer for a medical experiment to find a cure for a terrible disease. Infected with the disease he eventually succumbs and dies, but because of a transfusion of vampiric blood (its not explained) he actually survives. Hailed as a miracle worker the priest returns to the hospital where he had been ministering to the sick. Unfortunately all is not well. The priest finds that he needs blood to survive. He also finds that he has all of the typical problems of a vampire, and its no not possible for him to go out during the day. Things become even more complicated when he becomes reacquainted with a childhood friend and his family. The priest, some of his animal passions awakened becomes taken with the wife of his friend. From there it all goes sideways.

An ever changing film, this is a story that spins through a variety of genres as it tells the very human story of a man who finds that his life has been radically altered by a chance event and finds that he is no longer who he thought he was. It's a film that you have to stay with to the end because the film is forever evolving into something else. Its also a film that has a great deal on its mind and the themes its playing with are constantly being explored in a variety of ways

The film has enough going on that one could, and people probably will, write books discussing the film.

The two of the strongest parts of the film are its vampiric elements and its romance The vampire part of the tale is brilliant. There is something about how it lays out the ground rules and the nature of the "affliction" that makes such perfect sense that it kind of pushes the old vampire ideas aside. Sitting in the theater last night I found myself amazed at how impressed how well it worked. I think the fact that it played more or less straight is what is so earth shaking. Here is a vampire who just wants to have a normal life. It's contrasted with what happens later, it makes clear that living an existence of hunting humans really isn't going to work. Its not the dark world of Twilight or Lost Boys, rather its something else. I personally think that the film changes the playing field from a hip cool idea or dream into something more real and tangible. (The sequence where the powers kick in is just way cool) The romance is also wonderfully handled. Sure the sex scenes are steamy and well done, but it's the other stuff, the looks, the talk, the gestures outside of the sex that makes this special. I love the looks, the quiet stares as the forbidden couple look at each other hungering for each other and unable to act, the disappointment and heartbreak of betrayal both real and suspected, and the mad passion of possible consummation. This is one of the great screen romances of all time. It perfectly captures the feeling and emotion of deep passionate love (and lust). If you've ever loved deeply I'm guessing you'll find some part of your hear on screen, I know I did. The statement "I just wanted to spend eternity with you" has a sad poignancy to it. It's both a statement of what was the intention as well as the depth of emotion. The tragic romance will break your heart.

I won't lie to you and say that the film is perfect and great. Its not, as good as the pieces are and almost all of them are great (especially the actors who I have unjustly failed to hail as amazing) the whole doesn't always come together. The various genres, thematic elements and tones occasionally grate against each other. Frequently I was wondering where the film was going. I hung in there even though the film seemed to be wandering about aimlessly.

I liked the film a great deal. I loved the pieces more than the film as a whole. Its been pinging around in my head since I saw it, and I'm guessing that it will do so for several days more. Like or love is irrelevant since this is a film that really should be seen since it has so much going on that it will provide you with enough material to think and talk about for days afterward. One of the meatiest and most filling films of the year.
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different kind of vampire movie
SnoopyStyle15 January 2016
Catholic priest Sang-hyeon volunteers for an experiment in hospital. The experiment fails and he's infected with the deadly virus. After getting blood transfusions, he miraculously recovers. He becomes infatuated with his childhood friend Kang-woo's wife Tae-ju. He gets sick and finds himself drinking human blood.

This has some great erotic bloody sexual vampire scenes. It gets weird. I do find the story meanders a bit. That's probably part of poetry that I don't get but the movie has some captivating scenes. Kang-ho Song is a great lead. He is so magnetic and so charismatic. This may not be everybody's taste. It is slower than most modern horrors. It's a different kind of vampire movie.
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Tired Blood
asc8529 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Might end up being the biggest disappointment that I will see in 2009. I seem to be the rare person who disliked Park's Oldboy, but I think that his "Lady Vengeance" and "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" are among the best films I've seen in the 2000's decade. Therefore, I really was looking forward to see this, especially as it got such positive reviews. Instead, I found the film clichéd, and broke little, if any new ground to the vampire genre. And while I can appreciate a bit of gallows humor in movies like this, I felt Park did this at very inopportune times.

Others have compared/contrasted this to "Let the Right One In," and I have to say that "Let the Right One In" was far superior to this one, and was a fresh take on the vampire genre. Sadly, Park's take was a tired one.
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one of a handful of vampire films to treat it as a disease
Quinoa19841 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The great thing about Thirst, Chanwook Park's latest film, is that it's the anti-Twilight. Some of you may take that as a minus, but in reality it's a big plus. Park takes the method of vampirism seriously, and as well the torrid love story between Sang-hyeon and Tae-Joo. We see the conflicts of both of the characters- Sang-hyeon being a priest who undergoes a medical experiment that, unbeknownst to him, turns him into a sickly but true-blue vampire, and Tae-Joo with her mother and "idiot" brother, the latter is killed by Sang- as in a very strong melodrama. There's nothing terribly weepy or insipid with the story and characters at any point, and the implications put forth from religion early on (Sang, for example, is seen as a healer of sorts since he rose from the dead thanks to his vampirism, even as he just can't be that and knows it) on top of those about good vs evil, push it up into another plane cinematically.

That Thirst also rises up to the awesome standard of artistry that Park has displayed with Oldboy, Lady Vengeance and the underrated I'm a Cyborg but That's OK, should be taken as a given. Thirst is a film with a juicy narrative and bizarre suburban characters, and is shot and edited with an eye for a mood that is part satiric, part romantic/erotic, part dramatic and lastly fantastical. And it doesn't always treat vampirsim as something of a simple horror movie set-up (though as a horror movie Park has more than his share of scary scenes). It's more akin to the movie Near Dark which never mentioned the word vampire but let you know it was, and treated it with sincerity and a kind of lucid track of attention, and that the disease itself and its effect on a person's existence is perhaps scarier than the killings or bloodshed. Once you see one vampire jump up really high or heal its wounds, you've seen em' all.

Thirst also has a wicked sense of humor, much like Oldboy, only here with a bite (pun intended) meant to emphasize bizarre physical states of being. An example of this can be found with the Priest's predilection of sucking off of blood from people in comas by taking their blood tube and suckling on it on the floor. Or the manner in which Tae-Joo holds on to one scrap of humanity by keeping her mother alive, even as she's had something like a stroke and can only blink her eyes and tap one finger as a means of reacting to the blood-suckers who've brought pain and horror to her home. But these moments are like icing on the cake to make it a complete experience. What makes Thirst last in the mind is how elements come together, of drama and existential pains, of a Bunuelian-surreal sense of Catholicism (I especially loved the dynamic between Sang-hyeon and the other priest who gives his arm up for blood-sucking but really wants to be a vampire too), and of the erotic: the scenes where the priest finally gives in to Tae-Joo are incredible in their pace and length of shots and how real it gets. Not in a pornographic manner, but in the sense of these characters' release and escape, which doesn't last long over the scope of the story.

If it's not as great as Oldboy, it's not something to carp about. Not all films Chanwook Park directs will reach the stature of his masterpiece (and, at the least, he'll always be known as the man who directed that movie). But Thrist is an excellent addition to his oeuvre, and to the serious streak of vampire movies in general. The film-making is crisp and exciting and even dangerous (and what a white room of 'daylight' the characters live in!), the humor is dark and hilarious, the acting is intense and moody- especially from subtle strokes from Song Kang-ho and the quirky evil and surprising vulnerability from Kim OK-vin, and the ending, when it does finally get there, is one of those truly superb vampire-movie endings you'll be talking about for years, in a good way. In a battle between Thirst and Twilight, Thirst takes the knock-out in the first round. Between Let the Right One In or Near Dark, it's tougher to call. 9.5/10
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Chan-wook Park's take on the vampire film
chaos-rampant3 April 2010
There's a lot of stuff about repression here. A priest trying to come to terms with his newfound vampire bloodthirst, an alienated girl smothered by the middle-aged woman and her needy pathetic son who brought her up. Like the broken pieces of a puzzle, these two people figure together in awkward ways and romance erupts, wild fiery messy passion full of bloody bites and slushing sounds. We also get crime details painted with broad noirish brushstrokes; a murder the two protagonists are trying to keep under wraps, the mother who knows who murdered her son but can't say anything about it to anyone because she's paralyzed by stroke. All this is hastily nailed together with planks and long rusty spikes made of very very dark humor, so that if Thirst was a staircase it would creak and make lots of noise and you wouldn't trust it to support your weight to the top.

Yet it does, and that's part of what makes Thirst so good, that it works despite itself because all the pieces click into a pattern so that the romance is made dangerous by the horror undertones that lurk beneath it, the heady serious themes on regret and guilt the movie touches on constantly swim beneath the surface and are brought afloat on the whalebacks of black comedy that spurts jets of dark red blood all over the floor every time it rises to the surface. We even get the old vampire cliché, the "good vampire" protests the killing of innocents for their blood while the "bad vampire" proclaims it the way of nature; except this is exchanged while the two of them make impossible CGI jumps across rooftops like it's all an opera or very theatric melodrama, as though Park is saying "you know the tropes, now watch the presentation".

All this takes place across empty white walls with crucifixes hanging on them, a bunch of people are huddling around a small kitchen table to play mahjonng over heavy purple velvet, faces are lit sickly green against dark/golden brown backgrounds like something out of a Roger Corman film or a Nakagawa kaidan picture from the 50's and we only venture out of doors when the sun is down and the streets are empty. Of course you need to excuse Park his trademark overindulgence of overhead crane shots because there's a gazillion of them. At some point, the emotional codependence of the two protagonists turns into a purely physical one as they lie on the floor sucking blood off each other, all the heavy homely colors are brushed aside and the room is painted white, and the movie makes a getaway for "will the protagonists make it or will the murder be revealed?" waters that bring Seance on a Wet Afternoon to mind. That, and the seriocomic mood + cutting irony + impossible surreal things taking place in a domestic setting made me think of the Coens in more than one occasion.

This is all good to me but what I like most about it, what makes it special to me, is how all the repression is visualized. With David Lynch, there is a mysterious wooden box in the basement and someone's taking a lantern down the steps to it and we only hear the sound of the lantern breaking and it's all dark again. Here we're down in the basement and we see the box, it's a wardrobe flat on its back with a heavy rock keeping it shut and something's fighting to get out, and then we see the lantern break to pieces. Thankfully Park steers clear off most "Azn horror" clichés in the way Takashi Miike did in his musical remake The Happiness of the Katakuris. Come to think about it, this is a musical with all the dance numbers played to no music at all and it's great that way.
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