In Korean with English and Chinese Subtitles
Director: Park Chan-wook
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Kim Ok-vin, Kim Hae-sook, Shin Ha-kyun, Park In-hwan, Oh Dal-su, Song Young-chang, Mercedes Cabral, Eriq Ebouaney
RunTime: 2 hrs 13 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films & InnoForm
Rating: R21 (Violence and Sexual Scenes)
Opening Day: 10 September 2009
Beloved and devoted priest from a small town volunteers for a medical experiment which fails and turns him into a vampire. Physical and psychological changes lead to his affair with a wife of his childhood friend who is repressed and tired of her mundane life. The one-time priest falls deeper in despair and depravity. As things turn for worse, he struggles to maintain what’s left of his humanity.
Sinful temptations, everyone gets them from time to time. The never ending fight to curb these alluring temptations and every once in a while (or more often for others), we would succumb to our desires. When it comes to fighting temptation, what could be better than a tale about a morally conflicted vampire? And to make matters more scrumptious, how about a devoted priest who had somehow been inflected by the vampirism curse?
Helmed by one of the internationally renowned Korean directors, Park Chan-wook (Old Boy and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance), Thirst deftly dissect the charms and woes of vampirism with the focus particularly on struggle with sins and deceptive virtues.
Right from the start, the film started questioning the priest’s self righteous acts of volunteering for the deadly medical experiment. Was it really in good faith or was it selfish thought to fulfill a morbid vanity act?
The movie then delves deeper into the human psyche. What if the society/community rules that bound us no longer existed? What if we succumb a little to our temptations and slowly become addicted to these sinful pleasures? It went on questioning if you have discover the person you loved is flawed in his or her’s own monstrous ways, will there be any changes to the love you had prior to the discovery.
Those are hard questions that are slowly explored in the usual Park Chan-Wook’s dark humor trademarks, coupled with visually stunning cinematography and delightful soundtracks. It’s filled with stomach churning brutality and ghastliness that provokes the audience to ponder about the nastiness in human relationships.
There’s also sensual erotic moments in Thirst that plays well with the whole 'seduction of sins' factors. Those moments worked largely due to the actress Kim Ok-Bin’s handling of sultriness with innocence. Her innocence demeanor makes men want to be protective over her and when she turns on her lustful passions, it’s pretty hard to fight the urge to devour her (sexually of course). And when she starts playing the manipulations game, it’s another perspective of her character that a delight to discover.
Thirst is the cinematic quencher for a great vampire story mix with an exemplified moral dilemma. It might not be a vampire tale that strictly adheres to the vampire rules 101 (well the vampire priest works at a cross-fill church and garlic is a staple food in the Korean diet) but it delves deeper into the dilemma of having such a 'curse' that would appeal to fans of vampire stories.
(A cinematic thirst quencher)
Review by Richard Lim Jr