“Love sucks”

Vampire films have been around since the days of silent pictures yet every now and then a filmmaker will come up with a new and twisted version that stands out as gloriously original. Such is the case of writer/director Chan-wook Park and his dark, dramatic, humor laced horror flick, Bakjwi (Thirst). A film so beautifully shot that if not for its subject matter you could almost consider it a stylish love story for romantics everywhere. But this one is certainly not for the squeamish or faint of heart. Edward and Bella would wet themselves if faced with the likes of these two blood thirsty lovers.

Sang-hyeon (Kang-ho Song) is a priest who is sincere in his faith and will go to extremes to save the lost and dying. When he undergoes an experimental medical procedure it unleashes an insatiable taste for blood and awakens dark desires that he can’t control. His consuming lust for a young married girl, Tae-joo, (Ok-vin Kim) creates an inner turmoil that rocks the foundation of his faith and future.

Sang-hyeon’s trespass into sin does not come lightly and you feel his reluctance with each decision. His love for Tae-joo is sincere and if not for the fact that he is now part of the living dead you think he might have a shot at redemption. He makes some very strong arguments considering his situation. It was in fact not his doing that made him what he is so should he be loved any less? As he says, do you look upon the man with cancer as if he is somehow to blame?

Thirst is a Korean film with English subtitles. This fact alone will cause many, even those with the stomach to view it, to wave it away. Granted you have to catch the rhythm of any foreign film but Thirst never bogs down with wordy dialogue and the wit and humor survive the translation. The filming alone is enough to carry you through. Park moves his characters in an erotic, seductive dance and you soon find yourself lost in the world he has created.

This love story, as twisted as it is, is also full of wit and tongue in cheek humor. The camera angles and use of body motion has that classic Asian feel. The dialogue is quick and sharp. I laughed a lot in this movie and they are well crafted and deserving laughs. Park is unique in his ability to bring humor into a narrative such as this. And he does so without selling out the story or the moment.

Bakjwi (Thirst) is rated R for graphic bloody violence, disturbing images, strong sexual content, nudity and language. This is a lustful, seductive vampire flick at its core and I would suggest eating light before viewing. Even if you close your eyes you can not escape the sounds that echo and reverberate through the auditorium. The sucking noises, both carnally and carnivorously, are an element all their own. The sex scenes though beautifully shot and framed are powerfully graphic and seductive. This is not one for mixed family company. I will say that if you and your date are up for a little romantic horror you may find this a good outing. But you have to be comfortable with the extreme of both. So really think about what you are going in to. No question that parents should steer their older teens away from this one. I give it 4 out of 5 Mahjong tiles. Wonderfully shot and well written. Not a film for everyone but those with a flair for beautifully made horror and a blood lust for love. So says Matt Mungle

Matt Mungle (matt@mungleshow.com) (8/26/09)

(4 out of 5)

Review copyright 2009 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.

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