Thirst (Bakjwi) Directed by: Park Chan-wook Cast: Song Kang-ho, Kim Ok-vin, Kim Hae-sook Running Time: 2 hrs 15 mins Rating: R Release Date: August 21, 2009
Plot: Priest Sang-hyon (Song) offers himself as a guinea pig in an experimental treatment for a deadly disease. But along the way he becomes infected with a second disease, vampirism. He meets Tae-joo (Kim Ok-vin) the unhappy wife of a childhood friend and finds that he can no longer control his desire for her, or BLOOD!
Who’s It For? This is a harder edged, darker vampire movie than say... Twilight. For fans of complex morality tales.
I loved Oldboy and have really enjoyed Park Chan-wook's other films, but this one was different than I expected. A priest willing to sacrifice his life to save others takes part in a study of an experimental treatment to cure a deadly disease. He ends up the only survivor, alive even after he dies on the table. Months later, after leaving the clinic, he finds that not only does he have a thirst for blood, but that drinking it makes him nearly invulnerable. But along with this he has greater desire to kill, maim, and have sex, even more than before. What makes Sang-hyon different than other characters who've gone down this path before is his fierce morality. Park grounds his vampire flick in the mundane, the ugly. Hospitals, disease, dead end jobs and loveless marriage. Given the power to be stronger, faster than other humans, what would you become?
I can't say he's completely successful in his reinvention of the vampire story. It's been done before too many times. But his actors do an excellent job, I especially felt for Sang-hyon. Song may be familiar to audiences from The Host and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, as in those films the dramatic tone is occasionally lightened by absurd humor and he's great at shifting between. But despite this there's a lull in the last third of the movie that left me wondering where we were headed.
Still, Thirst is so unique as a vampire film that I have to recommend it. Don't expect perfection, but give this a go.
Final Score: 7/10