Asian Vampire Horror: Thirst (Korean, 2009)


God bless you Chan-wook Park.  I’m pretty sure of many things, admittedly unsure of more.  However, one truth I know to be particularly certain, is the following:  Director Chan-wook Park rocks!  Major.  To anyone who’s seen the Vengeance Trilogy, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  He’s like South Korea’s Quentin Tarantino meets a 21st century Alfred Hitchcock.  Morbid and Mr. Thrill Master, Chan-wook Park wouldn’t have bagged the Jury Prize during the 2009 Cannes Film Festival for nothin’.

In his 2009 directorial project, Thirst film, Chan-wook Park tastefully elicited the subjects of vampirism, religion, lust, and love into such a ghoulish yet high class thriller.  Thirst, like the pacing of many foreign films, can take some time to get rolling but once started, you’re on a runaway train—and a particularly hypnotic last 15 minutes.

Please take note that Thirst is definitely not your ordinary, teenybopper vampire movie.  If you’re looking for Robert Patterson…keep looking!  Absent of lame werewolf CGI’s, it’s just one reason why you’ll want to check out Thirst, which Western media largely missed in 2009!   And if you liked ‘Let the Right One In’ (another amazing foreign vampire movie), I bet you’ll love this epic, Thirst Korean movie.

Here’s a brief synopsis.  Sang-hyun, played by top Korean actor Song Kang-ho, is a devout priest who values life so much that he even volunteers himself to be a guinea pig for a vaccine experiment meant to cure a deadly leper / skin virus. Unfortunately, he catches the virus and dies (supposedly). However, he is miraculously resurrected after a blood transfusion. Being the only survivor among fifty volunteers, he recognized as a saint by his congregation—unknowingly that vampire’s blood is now flowing into his veins. True enough, Sang-hyun soon insatiably thirsts for blood and lusts for sensual pleasures. 

Though he quenches his bloody desires without slaying innocent people, he also commits adultery when he meets the abused wife Tae-ju, played by ex-beauty queen Kim Ok-vin. Together, they paint the town um, red…or course.  Sang-hyun finds himself no longer a saint but a sinner, performing the Seven Capital Sins.  An epic ending that is art meets the macabre.

We’re thirsting for a sequel if at all possible.  Regardless, I’m sure Chan-wook Park will be thrilling us in other celluloid ways.  Please check his Vengeance Trilogy if you haven’t already: ‘Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance’ (2002), ‘Oldboy,’ (2003), ‘Sympathy for Lady Vengeance’ (2005).