Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Song Kang-ho, Kim Ok-vin, Kim Hae-sook, Shin Ha-kyun, Park In-hwan, Oh Dal-su, Song Young-chang, Mercedes Cabral, Eriq Ebouaney
Written by: Park Chan-wook, Jeong Seo-Gyeong, based on a novel by Emile Zola
Directed by: Park Chan-wook
MPAA Rating: R for graphic bloody violence, disturbing images, strong sexual content, nudity and language
Language: Korean, with English subtitles
Running Time: 133
Date: 04/30/2009
IMDB

Thirst (2009)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Fang Time

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Park Chan-wook follows up his famous and celebrated "Vengeance" trilogy (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy and Lady Vengeance) with an equally intense vampire film. But Thirst isn't exactly out for scares or thrills; it's more like an old-time Hollywood melodrama with fangs; think A Place in the Sun with bloodsuckers. [Note: I found out after seeing the movie that Park loosely based his script on Emile Zola's novel Thérèse Raquin.] It begins as Priest Sang-hyeon (the terrific Song Kang-ho, of The Host) volunteers as a guinea pig; he will be injected with a terrible blood disease in the hopes that a cure can be found. He emerges as the only survivor of the experiment, and becomes something of a celebrity in his parish. Unfortunately, Sang has realized that the disease continues to progress unless he drinks human blood. While visiting the home of some of his congregation, he becomes attracted to Tae-ju (Ok-vin Kim), a put-upon orphan girl who has been taken into the family and forced to marry the pathetic, sniveling Kang-woo (Shin Ha-kyun). Before long, the priest and the girl have embarked upon a passionate, lustful affair, and Sang eventually reveals his terrible secret to her. The violence escalates from there as more and more people in this circle become victims. Park manages to keep all this up at a high pitch for an astounding 133 minutes. The tone is very darkly severe, and it's just as easy to be repulsed as it is amazed, but I admire the very palpable physicality of the film, and the way that sex transforms into violence (which is what the vampire genre is really all about anyway).

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