Sunday, October 9, 2011

Thirst (Bakjwi)

By s. Sunday, October 9, 2011 , , , , , , , , ,
(133 min, 2009)
Director: Chan-wook Park
Writers: Chan-wook Park (screenplay), Émile Zola (inspired by the book "Thérèse Raquin"),
Stars: Kang-ho Song, Ok-bin Kim and Hae-sook Kim

Between God and desire.

“She took my heart, I think she took my soul
With the moon I run
Far from the carnage of the fiery sun
Driven by the strangled vein
Showing no mercy I do it again
Open up your eye
You keep on crying, baby
I’ll bleed you dry”

- Kings of Leon, “Closer”

In Korea, the dedicated Priest Hyo-Sung volunteers to work in a special research of the Emmanuel Virus, a.k.a. Curse of Bazira that does not affect African, only Caucasian and Asian; However he contracts the disease and dies, but after a blood transfusion, he surprisingly survives among the fifty volunteers and is considered saint by the worshipers. Sooner Hyo-Sung finds that the transfusion was made using vampires blood and he is thirsty for blood and lust for woman, Tae-ju.

If I had to make a list of five best vampires movies ever made “Thirst” by the director of Vengeance Trilogy Chan-wook Park would be on it. The movie brilliantly shows vampire's lust, in all forms of it, has one of the best characters I've seen in vampire movie (Tae-ju) and is beautifully shot. It's a delicate and sometimes even poetic movie about brutal and irreversible aspects of vampires' lives.

There are many moments when my jaw dropped during this film – the very idea of a priest becoming a vampire is ratherdaring, but there are some scenes, which not only are shocking but also amazingly shot. The sex scenes are long and intensely sensual, the killings are bloody and cruel. Sex and blood lust mixes into one in many sequences and brings the most erotic and captivating moments of “Interview with a vampire” and “Dracula” to mind.

The character of priest is well developed, but I thought he wasn't intense enough to make lasting impression, especially comparing to Tae-Ju. Kang-ho Song who plays the priest does a decent job, but he doesn't make his character interesting enough for audience to care about his fate. He is excellent at portraying sadness and rising desire, but for most of the film he simply says the lines, moves around, does what the script tells him to do, but I didn't sense he actually had the connection with his character. In case of Ok-bin Kim who plays Tae-ju things are the other way around.

She is pure perfection – beautiful, innocent and then – absolutely sinister. The character of Tae-ju is fascinating – she can be childish, sweet and affectionate and then turn into calculating, cold and manipulative femme fatale. There are moments in this movie where she is actually scary and the fact that throughout her life she had no freedom and now she has the absolute independence only makes her more dangerous. There is so much tragedy in her relations with everyone - with the priest, with her husband, with her mother. She wants certain things and when she gets them, she misses her comfortable, familiar way of life, even if at the time she had it, it made her miserable. It's a shame the movie didn't focus on her – her scheming, ruthlessness and duality of her personality makes her ten times more interesting character than the priest.

We see Hyo-Sung having issues with what happened to him, learning to live with this “curse”, turning from innocent priest into ordinary man. This is what happens to him – although he is a vampire he never turns into a monster because of the infected blood. He does monstrous things because of the woman he loves. He embraces the desires of normal people, but he is strong enough to resist his bloodthirsty nature. However, he can't resist his love for Tae-ju and his need for her to be completely his so he succumbs to it. He can't let go, but he also knows that they have no right to exist in the world created by God, who was his beloved one for so many years.

The movie has many overwhelmingly beautiful scenes, but there are ones which only fans of vampire genre will fully appreciate – the scene with Hyo-Sung and Tae-ju drinking each others' blood and exchanging bloody kiss is outstanding – we get to see the anger, mourning, missing, lust and the birth of something which will spin out of control and with just one look into Tae-ju eyes we know it. The ending to the film is haunting and I loved how characters' emotions and thoughts were so easy to guess and interpret without any words. This is a movie for people who adore vampire stories, in all their glory – with blood swimming out of veins, with sunlight being deadly and with lust being the biggest token of carnality and being fully alive, even if the heart ceased to beat.



  1. I've been wanting to watch Thirst for a while now, and it's always on TV, but I never get round to watching the whole thing. Definitely want to check it out now.

    And nice to see you quote the only Kings of Leon song on that album I actually really liked! (What happened to them from their great albums before?).

    1. Haha, I really love that song, but I dislike their recent stuff, their first albums are definetly the best.
      You should see the film it's really worth watching, such a great vampire film, probably the best one since Interview with a Vampire, also the cinematography is gorgeus and the acting is fantastic.