Thirst Review: Bloodthirsty Korean Arthouse
If you don’t like the sight of blood, this is definitely a film to steer clear of.
There’s more claret in this piece of cinema than the average Calais off-licence.
Thirst is an immersive flick which creates some pretty brutal images, and while it is easy to see why the movie became a box-office hit in its native country, some of the cultural translations aren’t as effective as the director might have hoped.
Park Chan-Wook is a film-maker with some pedigree in world cinema (Oldboy), but despite his creativity and undoubted panache, he has produced a piece which at times descends into a muddle and loses some of its impact as it meanders beyond the two-hour mark.
Some might enjoy the odd sense of isolation that pervades the movie, others definitely will not – it is unquestionably a requisite taste.
There are some strong redeeming features however, and the two leads play their roles very well. Song Kang-Ho, Korea’s brightest acting talent, portrays the troubled priest with reverence, and Kim Ok-Vin is just as engaging as his lover.
The gore-fest tells the story of a Christian clergy-man who volunteers for a medical experiment. When he falls victim to a virus, he is given an infected blood transfusion which miraculously saves his life, but eventually turns him into a night-walking bloodsucker.
Pretty soon, his survival is heralded as a miracle and he when he starts visiting the sick, he meets an old friend, who introduces his domineering mother, and Tae-Ju, his browbeaten wife who longs for a different existence.
As our leading man descends into the realm of the undead, he gives in to carnal desire and soon strikes up a bizarre relationship with the unsatisfied Tae-Ju, and she is soon dining on the red stuff with her new boyfriend.
The film centres on the inner turmoil of a priest who fights hard against the need to quench his thirst by harming people, and there are some vibrantly disturbing images here, including one scene when he siphons patients in the local hospital.
The character arcs are pretty intriguing, particularly Tae-Ju who develops an increasingly ruthless nature as the film continues, but it really could have done with being half an hour shorter.