Thirst (Bakjwi)

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Remo D
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Thirst (Bakjwi)

Post by Remo D » Sun Sep 27, 2009 10:58 am

Well, I officially threw in the towel this weekend. I've been one genre film behind for the past couple of weeks (thanks to WHITEOUT), but I thought I could do a decent job of keeping up all the same. Caught SORORITY ROW last week, make it JENNIFER'S BODY this week, perhaps PANDORUM next and then catch up with ZOMBIELAND, right?

Oh, so wrong. Our local arthouse decided to throw a spanner into the works by FINALLY releasing Park Chan-Wook's THIRST in my 'neck' of the woods.

Let's face it--I may like to be as much of a 'completist' as possible, but I haven't seen a good movie since INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. Since then, I've sat through THE FINAL DESTINATION, HALLOWEEN II, GAMER, WHITEOUT and SORORITY ROW.

Do I REALLY need to see JENNIFER'S BODY that badly? Can anyone ELSE give me a heads-up on PANDORUM? Sorry, I want to see a GOOD movie, so those two and SURROGATES are just going to have to wait for DVD (or even cable). I'm not turning down a vampire film from the director of the VENGEANCE trilogy on the big screen!

Kang Ho-Song (of THE HOST and both MR. and LADY VENGEANCE) is a sympathetic priest (known as Sang-hyeon)who volunteers for a dangerous medical experiment. Supposedly, he's willing to put the power of prayer to the test against a deadly hemmorhagic virus (and an experimental vaccine). Is he trying to do genuine good? Or does he wish for martyrdom (or failing that, plain old death) for reasons of his own?

Our hero succumbs to the virus (after a visually shocking moment in which his solitary woodwind play is interrupted by a huge, heaving gout of blood), but the transfusion used in an attempt to save his life just HAPPENS to be infected with... vampirism! The virus is (temporarily) restrained, and the priest revives as the only survivor--and thus as a "miracle man" to the populace, who swarm to him, begging to be healed...

We are twenty minutes into the movie and ALREADY it's offered up more thoughtful and provocative material (both visual and cerebral) than the rest of the films I saw over the last month put together. And things are only warming up...

Having never lost his Catholic faith, Sang-hyeon convinces himself that he can be that exceptional vampire who can exist without ever harming or killing another human being. But his new state of existence inevitably leads him into a fetishistic relationship with young Tae-ju (Ok-vin Kim), the disturbed and frustrated spouse of a cancer patient supposedly 'cured' by the priest. Tae-ju has no such faith and no such scruples (we see where she's coming from with her nightly fantasies of jamming a pair of scissors down the throat of her sleeping husband... and those scissors WILL come into play eventually, fear not). Simply put--complications ensue.

THIRST acknowledges some of the 'fun to be a vampire' LOST BOYS/TWILIGHT vibe with some fine special effects involving leaping from building to building--it's only fair to mention this when everyone knows what the most popular vampire franchise is likely to be for a while, but the resemblance ends there. And comparisons to LET THE RIGHT ONE IN are inevitable but similarly unhelpful--that film was a masterpiece of childhood fears and uncertainties, while THIRST is frankly and unapologetically adult (obviously, not a simplistic reference to graphic on-screen content, though it certainly IS there).

Perhaps Park's latest may not quite live up to the soul-crushing intensity of OLDBOY--nevertheless, it's still one of the most intelligent, thoughtful, shocking (and yes, even HUMOROUS) releases to which I've been treated this year.

It took long enough to reach me, so if you still have a chance to see it, SEIZE it.
My dog's breath smells like peanut butter...

...and I don't even have a dog!


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Chris Slack
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Post by Chris Slack » Sun Sep 27, 2009 11:52 am

Thanks for the review. I've been looking forward to seeing this for a while!
"Regrettable... I was hoping for a colleague, but at least we have
another experimental subject..." -Mesa of Lost Women

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Kimberly
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Post by Kimberly » Fri Oct 09, 2009 5:06 pm

I caught it back in Sept. (need to update my list this weekend ><)... anyhoo, I really liked it! Still not as good as some of his other films, but still thought it was great!
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