Thirst – Bakjwi – 2009
From IMDB: 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 turns for worse, he struggles to maintain whats left of his humanity.
Finally, what i’ve been talking about nonstop for months on here, my twitter, to my friends, and pretty much anybody who would listen, i got a chance to watch and own a copy of Thirst. What can i say.. where can i even start? I’ll try, even tho when it comes to Park Chan Wook my vocabulary seems shy of appropriate and beautiful enough terms.
Bakjwi (originally set to be titled “the bat”) is the story of a catholic priest, Sang-hyun (impeccably played by korean superstar Song Kang-ho of The Host and Sympathy for Mr Vengeance) who loves life and humanity so much that he decides to volunteer for a medical experiment, only to come out of it as a vampire – and the only survivor out of 50+ patients. As he’s dragged into the world of Sin and carried away by lust, thirst for human blood, and most of all confusion, we watch his faith crumble irremediably.
Of course, the reason behind this precipitous fall into the rabbit hole is a woman, Tae-ju (brand new actress Kim Ok-bin), who not only is one his childhood’s friends wife, but also a beautiful – and troubled – individual who had been waiting her whole life to run away.
Their encounter changes their lives forever, and brings the substance of the story at much more than “just” the typical vampire movie. Thirst is about pain, desire, the fall of dogmas, and most of all internal struggle. And Park Chan Wook is right there telling us this beautiful and grotesque story in that familiar way he got us all used to: stunning camera work, outstanding atmospheres, attention for details, and the perfect soundtrack. I’m sure the ending will blow most of you guys’ minds away for it is so gorgeous it almost physically hurts.
The actors are top-notch, and the movie delivers the perfect combination of brutal violence, gore, and drama but also lots of very funny black humor (my favorite!), suspense, and steamy sex scenes (fun fact: Thirst was the first Korean movie to feature full frontal male nudity). And of course, an endless amount of blood.
I have been looking around for a copy of this every day since the teaser trailer release back in March, so you can only imagine the kind of suspense i had been building up for myself. On top of that, besides many many positive reviews (not to mention the fact that Thirst won the Jury Prize at Cannes this year pretty much blowing the jury away) – i’ve also read all of those other reviews, the jealous and “i-have-to-critique-negatively-at-any-cost” type, that said it wasn’t Park Chan Wook’s best work, that the movie is too long and needs more editing, and yadda yadda. so i had mixed feelings about my super high-end expectations.
you know what? fuck those critics. the movie is PERFECT.
so perfect i can’t wait to watch it again, and again, and again…