By John M. Urbancich
“Thirst” becomes a bloody good and artsy vampire yarn in the hands of accomplished Korean director/co-writer Park Chan-wook. Regardless, more judicious editing might have turned his 133-minute seat squirmer into a shorter, sleeker thriller.
The filmmaker unleashes a legitimate “Old Boy” (his most famous movie) in the form of a priest (Song Kang-ho from “The Host”) whose Dracula-like transformation following some church-sanctioned experiments is both blessing and curse.
Very early on, the good cleric catches the disfiguring plague he was hoping to help prevent, dies and – as a result of a transfusion – returns to his homeland in full blood-sucking mode. On the plus end, he never shows his age and exhibits the healing powers that make him a local hero.
The latter side effect puts him in guarded touch with a long-lost friend (Shin Ha-kyun), a mama’s boy who knew the priest when he was a young orphan. Unfortunately, Father Drac falls hard for his old pal’s put-upon wife (the ravishing Kim Ok-vin) and, as Chan-wook so sensually shoots it, their sex is enough to turn around his collar.
Of course, there’s also the little matter of the hot new lover’s obsessively evil, vengeful ways, which include plotting murders and lots of other stylish mayhem. All of it, especially the couple’s final dance with death, is visualized to near perfection, even if the subtitles aren’t always adequate enough to translate such a complex tale.
Stars: Song Kang-ho, Shin Ha-kyun, Kim Ok-vin, Mercedes Cabral
Director: Park Chan-wook
Studio/Official Site: http://www.filminfocus.com/focusfeatures/film/thirst/
Photos courtesy Focus Features.
[John M. Urbancich is a Cleveland-based reporter who has reviewed movies and written film features and celebrity profiles at Cleveland’s Sun Newspapers for 25 years. As a longtime member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, his work has also been appearing on the Sun News website for more than a decade.]