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Park Chan-wook's 2009 dark, erotic drama about a priest who becomes a vampire.

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A Quick Tip by Count_Orlok_22

  • May 27, 2011
Thirst is at once an interesting film. From the standpoint of a vampire historian, the film manages to go places and try things that haven't been attempted in vampire films before. At times gruesome, darkly funny, graphically violent, overtly erotic, and ultimately disturbing, Thirst manages to create a flavor (no pun intended) that is unique among horror films. However, it may not be a taste that everyone will appreciate.

The story follows Sang-hyun, a Catholic priest, who out of a desire to help others, volunteers for a medical experiment during which he is infected with a disease that causes him to vomit and his skin to blister. At one point he is about to die and is in need of blood and is given a transfusion. But the transfusion mysteriously turns him into a vampire. The priest, now the only survivor out of 50 other volunteers who were infected, is regarded as something of a miracle worker and people bring him their sick and dying in the hope that he can save them, though he has no powers to heal others. One of the men who comes to seek healing is the repulsive Kang-woo, a childhood friend of Sang-hyun, who asks to be healed of his disease. Sang-hyun ends up moving into the city where he works at a hospital, where he steals blood to drink, and meets with Kang-woo, Kang-woo's mother, wife, and friends. It's not long before Sang-hyun falls in love with Kang-woo's wife, Tae-ju, and they begin a steamy adulterous affair. When Tae-ju, who is unhappy in her marriage to Kang-woo and sick of being treated like nothing more than a servant, lies and tells Sang-hyun that Kang-woo is abusive towards her, Sang-hyun kills Kang-woo during a fishing trip. Sang-hyun begins a violent path into his own dark side, which he had repressed before, and he ends up killing a fellow priest who wants to use Sang-hyun's blood to cure his blindness. Soon both Sang-hyun and Tae-ju begin having eerie hallucinations (whether they are supernatural or imagined is never explained) that Kang-woo's waterlogged corpse is haunting them. After an argument, Sang-hyun hits Tae-ju and she accidentally reveals that Kang-woo had never hurt her physically before, at which point Sang-hyun becomes so outraged and Tae-ju becomes so guilt-ridden that she begs him to kill her which he does. But he regrets this decision and cuts his own wrist allowing his vampiric blood to flow into her mouth, reviving her as a vampire too. But Tae-ju's personality changes and she becomes a sadistic predator who takes joy in killing those she feeds off. During a game of mahjong, she and Sang-hyun are exposed as Kang-woo's murderers by Kang-woo's paralyzed mother. Tae-ju kills their mahjong guests which leads Sang-hyun to finally accept that they are both too dangerous to remain alive (or undead). So, he takes Tae-ju and Kang-woo's mother on a long drive to the coast where he secretly plans to trap himself and Tae-ju as the sun rises which will mercifully end their monstrous existence (along the way despite being consumed by he inexplicably stops at a camp where the sick and dying worship him as a healing saint and there he rapes and feeds off of a sick woman). Together the two vampires die as the sun rises and Kang-woo's paralyzed mother watches with a smile on her face as her son's murderers finally die.

The story has all the elements of a good Asian melodrama and much of the minimalistic style that is common among Asian dramas, but somehow while the story, characters, and direction all work beautifully to create a tragic, disturbing and at times sickeningly funny film, I couldn't help but feel that the editing and the script could have been improved upon. In terms of the screenplay, I think that the transfusion should have been better explained as should the entire early part of the film with the virus, but there are also moments which felt that they could have been slowed down to focus more on the characters and the changes that were happening to them (Tae-ju seems to be quite happy to be a vampire despite having wanted to die just a few moments earlier in the film). So there are inconsistencies and moments that just don't quite add up. As far as the editing goes, I would have loved for the film's pacing to have been kept a bit slower in the last third as we see Sang-hyun and Tae-ju discover their lethal potential. Slowing this portion of the film down would have increased the suspense as well as the viewers' emotional connection to the characters which kind of gets lost around the two-thirds mark.

On the upside, the film is gorgeously shot, the action scenes are interesting, the acting is superb, and the direction is also very well done. I think that the film works well as an original approach on vampirism and I like how it dealt with the themes of lust, violence, and the downward spiral of Tae-ju as she becomes both sexually and vampirically a predator. I just wish that it had been structured a little differently and taken more time to show the back-story and the slow progressive horrors of becoming a ruthless killer.
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June 01, 2011
Dude you should have posted this as a review lol.
June 01, 2011
It's not in-depth enough to qualify as a review.
May 27, 2011
Hey, Sean, would you mind telling me how long was the movie you saw? I know you got the Canadian version, but I am puzzled why you thought that the part about the transfusion and the virus was lacking some explanation. Ok, I do need to see this again since it has been awhile, I saw this in July 2009 I think, but I know it represented something else....let me think and try to remember.
May 27, 2011
I'd have to check the DVD case. I think it was the same as listed here at 133 minutes. Maybe the Canadian DVD just wasn't as well subtitled.
May 27, 2011
that is a possibility. oh, you want Mr. Vengeance? got an extra copy.
May 27, 2011
Possibly. Is it the Canadian version? LOL!
; )
Seriously though, which order should someone watch the "Vengeance Trilogy" anyway or does it even matter?
May 27, 2011
well, I saw Oldboy first and then I saw Mr. Vengeance after since the dvd releases went in reverse here. Tartan did it intentionally since Mr. Vengeance was Park's pet project which had been delayed many times. He got the funding to do it after JSA proved to be a huge success.
May 27, 2011
So, it doesn't matter that much then? Good, because I kind of wanted to start with "Oldboy" too.
May 27, 2011
most people consider Oldboy to be the best; some did prefer "Lady Vengeance" and a select few considered Mr. Vengeance the best because it did a lot for a measly budget. "Mister" was the rawest and arguably the grittiest.
May 27, 2011
They all sound awesome. I can't wait for "Lady Vengeance" and "Oldboy" to come in the mail. I ordered a very weird mix of movies.
May 27, 2011
Very detailed QT! Sounds like an interesting film.
May 27, 2011
The acting was really the best part. Kim Ok-bin who plays Tae-ju manages to pull off being both sweet, long suffering wife, the lustful mistress, and the wicked vampire.
June 03, 2011
Yeah, that's what I took away from the reviews. Sounds like it will be fun to watch!
More Thirst (Bakjwi) reviews
review by . August 02, 2009
posted in ASIANatomy
            Winner of the Grand Jury Prize in the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and recipient of critical and box-office acclaim in Asia, I jumped at the chance to see Park Chan Wook’s (Oldboy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance) latest film in a limited screening engagement in San Francisco. “THIRST” is a horror-satirical drama that explores the dark bestial side of humanity that is quite bizarre, even creepy on occasion, but never for one minute does …
review by . June 24, 2010
posted in ASIANatomy
Thirsty For More!!!
Favorite Movie Quote: "Ravage my body sworn to chastity leave me with no pride, and have me live in shame."      Should the name Chan-wook Park sound relatively familiar, it is. More than almost any other living Korean film-maker, Park solidified his well-earned reputation with the sleeper hit Oldboy. Although I've enjoyed & certainly respected his decisions when it comes to other works, I couldn't fathom anything so masterful nor as mature. Thirst actually …
Quick Tip by . May 14, 2011
posted in ASIANatomy
After Park Can-Wook's Vengeance Trilogy, the acclaimed Korean director goes forth with a harrowing fable about vampirism and the life of a priest who gets turned into one of the undead.      Sexy, sometimes disturbing and definitely a thematic affair, Park uses his signature style of blending symbolisms, dark humor and themes that bring the viewer to ask questions about what he has seen. Exquisitely acted and definitely a must-see, "Thirst" is one of my best of …
review by . October 30, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Sang-Hyun, a Roman Catholic priest, develops urgent cravings after he selflessly volunteers to be guinea pig in a dangerous medical experiment. He resists at first, but thirst has a way of overcoming both scruples and vows. It's a story about faith and redemption, a deeply romantic and moving love story ... and a story about murder, mayhem and sex. Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy, Lady Vengeance, I'm a Cyborg, but That's OK), won the Jury Prize at Cannes for this stylish and bloody reinvention of the vampire …
Quick Tip by . November 19, 2009
So far, this one is making my list for top 10 films of 2009 to see although 2009 isn't over yet.
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About this movie


A 2009 film directed by Park Chan-Wook (director of Oldboy) based on Emile Zola's novel. The film is the story about a priest who becomes a vampire because of a flawed experiment. In turn, this priest experiences all the powerful, strong frailties of being a flawed human being and comes face to face with his own conscience and lust for a woman named Tae-Ju.

Screened in San Francisco in April 2009.

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Director: Park Chan-wook
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Horror
Release Date: April 30, 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Seo-Gyeong Jeong
DVD Release Date: November 17, 2009
Runtime: 133 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios
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