Korean director Park Chan-Wook unleashes his take on the vampire genre in this very provocative, insane, and extraordinarily thrilling film.
Sang-Hyun is a priest who has had major troubles with the people around him. One of his closest friends is stuck in a coma while another had passed on. He makes a decision that will change his life forever. He heads to Africa to become the guinea pig in a new experiment that may cure disease. However, when he is infected and nearly dies, he is given a blood transfusion. The only problem is that the blood is that of a vampire.
Returning home, Sang-Hyun learns that he will have lesions all over his body and the only way he can cure himself is to drink human blood. However, with no intention of killing anyone, he feeds off his friend in the coma by drinking through his IV before returning it back to normal. However, things will become more complicated for the priest when he begins to fall for and eventually, have an affair with the abused young woman who is the wife of his childhood friend Kang-Woo.
Park Chan-Wook comes extremely close to becoming Korea’s answer to Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike in terms of making controversial films that borderline on insanity. From his world-famous Oldboy (2003) to the very strange I’m a Cyborg, but That’s OK (2007), Park is quite interesting in how he delves into various genres with not exactly the straight subplots. He has a tendency to want to twist things and shake it up until they explode. This is truly the case with this film, his vision of a vampire film.
The film is driven by amazing performances by lead actors Song Kang-Ho and Kim Ok-Vin. Song, truly a veteran actor who has had amazing performances in films truly delivers another fine performance in the lead role of the literally tortured soul Sang-Hyun. He brings Sang-Hyun as a priest who is forced to go to near extremes when his thirst for blood gets the best of him. He is not a bad person, just someone who finds himself having basically no other option. He wants to do his duty as a priest, but eventually falls for a young married woman who is sick of the way her life is being handled.
This is where Kim Ok-Vin comes in. The newcomer actress truly delves into the role, changing slowly from a young woman who wants nothing more to be rid of her abusive husband and mother-in-law to someone who ends up thriving on violence. It is as if Park took Stephenie Meyer’s Bella Swan from Twilight and makes her a neurotic psychopath from the get-go. Forget the outcast portion as this is someone with some serious regression who is just bursting to let it out. When the first of the plot twists are revealed, it becomes quite surprising what becomes of her and the results are quite shocking.
Speaking of shock value, Park definitely delivers in that department. The film’s only somewhat comic relief comes in the form of Sang-Hyun’s confession of being a vampire to his new love when she runs out of the room as he feeds on his friend’s IV. There is definitely some lovemaking that is closer to True Blood if anything between vampire and human and in one very disturbing scene, the lovers have the same nightmare and we get a ghost in the middle of some “action”. Sink in some catatonia and that pretty much sums up the shock value portion of the film.
If you are looking for a vampire film that not only shows emotional effort but brings shock into the fray, then Thirst should definitely be a must-see. Park Chan-Wook clearly outdoes himself with this film thanks to the driven performances of Song Kang-Ho and Kim Ok-Vin.
WFG RATING: A-
Focus Features International presents a CJ Entertainment production in association with Moho Film Productions. Director: Park Chan-Wook. Producers: Park Chan-Wook and Ahn Soo-Hyun. Writers: Park Chan-Wook and Chung Seo-Kyung. Cinematography: Chung Chung-Hoon. Editing: Kim Sang-Beom and Kim Jae-Beom.
Cast: Song Kang-Ho, Kim Ok-Vin, Kim Hae-Suk, Shin Ha-Kyun, Park In-Hwan, Oh Dae-Su.