Review

Harry loves Park Chan Wook's THIRST!

Published at: Aug. 2, 2009, 8:17 p.m. CST by headgeek

I have been dying to see Park Chan Wook's latest film, THIRST. Mainly because I had no idea what a Vampire story from his amazing vantage point would look like. Would there be new Vampire rules? Would it be a recognizable vampire story? Or would it be something entirely new? Coming from South Korea - I was anticipating the latter. THIRST did not disappoint. It is a vampire story. But it is so much more than that. This is primarily a psycho-sexual tale of mutual addiction. In many ways it resembles a great film that I've seen recently called IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES by Nagisa Oshima back in 1976. In Oshima's film you have two people that become so entwined, so sexually high on one another and to topping each high with something crazier, wilder, more irresponsible. That spirals wildly out of control. Now Park's THIRST is no where near as graphic, sexually speaking, as IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES, but it is very much a kindred spirit. Kang-Ho Song plays a virginal priest named Sang-Hyeon. He's dedicated his life to the Priesthood - and is so selfless, that he volunteers to be infected with a truly awful virus that ravages the body into a messy death - all to try a cure that thus far, had not worked. Through the process, through the ravaging of his body he intends to grow closer to his savior, Jesus Christ, his dream to hear God. But in the end, his savior was not God, but an anonymous Vampire blood donor that infected him, turned him and cured him. He becomes legendary as the "Bandaged Saint". People want his blessings, pray for his blessings. Through a rather innocent occurrence at the hospital he is stationed at, he meets the mother of a childhood friend, whose wife was another childhood friend. Had Sang-hyeon never met Tae-Joo. He probably would have just remained a sad sack vampire, sucking upon the comatose and his blind father. But no. He found Tae-Joo and she him. Two miserable spirits that find solace, a measured degree of happiness with one another. But this is a mistake. This is wrong. It begins sexually. An abused woman forced into a relationship with her adopted brother/husband. Treated like Harry Potter in his muggle home. The kindness of this Priest and his curiosity with her, her body, her sensuality. It calls to him. It screams at him to betray his vows of celibacy, but his faith has begun to falter in the wake of his undead nature. So their sexual relationship begins. Passion is found where it was missing in both. In each other they find someone that can never have enough. Add to this - Vampirism... and you've got a formula for something truly perverse. Murder is done. It gets worse, the problems grow, the psychological toll is taken and it grows and grows. Where it is headed is something that only you should discover as the film progresses, but let me tell you... the film is intensely erotic, horrifying and oddly romantic. The visual effects of the film are kind of amazing. It isn't just that they can fly, but it is the way the camera moves with them, the way we follow the characters - it feels... somehow... personal. Like we're the bird on their shoulder for the ride. It is intoxicating, because I'm not entirely sure how it was done, but I love watching it. The sex is sexy. The violence is brutal and disgusting. And the magic of vampirism is magic. This is a truly great Vampire story, adult and intense. If you want something with teeth, this will quench your THIRST! I'm sorry. That line just made me laugh so hard, but I really do mean it. This is one of the absolute best films I've seen this year.

Readers Talkback

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  • Aug. 2, 2009, 8:21 p.m. CST

    Fhirst!

    by future help

    Ha! sorry, had to do it.

  • Aug. 2, 2009, 8:27 p.m. CST

    Wow..

    by shartron

    did this just post?

  • Aug. 2, 2009, 8:27 p.m. CST

    by shartron

  • Aug. 2, 2009, 8:28 p.m. CST

    Dammit!!!

    by shartron

    Silver & Bronze!

  • Aug. 2, 2009, 8:35 p.m. CST

    No.

    by thewizardofoz

    I can appreciate that technologically this was an impressive movie. I wouldn't deny that at all. And there are lots of cool character/story elements as well. BUT - all of those are pretty much ruined by this disjointed affair. It's a poorly structured film that goes on far too long. There is a GREAT movie somewhere in here, but let's not give this a free pass just because it's "artsy" international cinema.

  • Aug. 2, 2009, 8:42 p.m. CST

    Backlog of reviews huh?

    by spooky2k

    Your Funny People review was crazily short and out of character (where was the story about George Carlin being an inspiration as you grew up etc?). Now this one too! What's up Harry? I was actually looking forward to a Carlin rant from you. The guy was a genius.

  • Aug. 2, 2009, 9:15 p.m. CST

    TOo extreme for my taste just going by the trailer...

    by Johnno

    So I guess Park suceeded in creeping me out... of the park! Zing!

  • Aug. 2, 2009, 9:37 p.m. CST

    Harry defying expectations...

    by Thrillhouse77

    I expected him to talk about the time that he met Park Chan-wook or the time that a woman offered to enter into a sexual and vampiric relationship with her.

  • Aug. 2, 2009, 10:03 p.m. CST

    Anybody seen the AICN GI JOE TV commercial?

    by Trannyformers_Apologist

  • Aug. 2, 2009, 10:04 p.m. CST

    Park Chan-wook!!!! A real visionary.

    by Stan Grossman

    No one, And I mean no one make's films like this fella here. A true artist of the medium. He has that kubrickian eye for framing. Everyone of his films so far is drop dead gorgeous. Save for "JSA". Note to spielberg, please stay far far away from anything named "OLDBOY", im begging you. While you're at it, convince the suits to do the same. That film was a masterpiece and should be left alone. Don't give me that "we're staying closer to the original manga than that film did" bullshit. LEAVE IT ALONE. I cannot wait to see this for I have'nt been able to get ahold of "Im a Cyborg" and i need a Chan-Wook fix stat. Hope this gets a solid wide release.

  • Aug. 2, 2009, 10:18 p.m. CST

    Sunlight did not affect Grandpa Munster.

    by Uncle Stan

    I'm just saying.

  • Aug. 2, 2009, 10:19 p.m. CST

    wont be fooled again

    by Bouncy X

    last vampire movie this site and its talkbackers was drooling over was Let The Right One In and my god....was that ever boring. i did like the little girl, she did a good job but the movie itself....man....glad i saw it for free on television.

  • Aug. 2, 2009, 10:26 p.m. CST

    Do you know why this website sucks?

    by everstranger

    Because nothing can be said without ONCE mentioning some retarded licenses ? Using a Harry Potter reference in a Park Chan Wook review ? Well, there's where I stopped reading. Now I know this website I made a crowd of nerds. I like it this way. But please, stop comparing everything to whatever shitty movies with fantasy/sci-fi made in the past 30 years. It's like everything is somehow linked to Starwars, the Matrix or LOTR (to name a few). Get better references or stop trying to sound educated !

  • Aug. 2, 2009, 10:34 p.m. CST

    Speaking of Nagisa Oshima...

    by D.Vader

    I almost bought the Criterion of his Empire of Passion tonight. Ended up passing though, as I'd never seen it and I need to stop purchasing DVDs of movies I've never seen.

  • Aug. 2, 2009, 10:35 p.m. CST

    I'll probably have to catch this on DVD

    by SoylentMean

    which is stupid because this movie looks really good and interesting. The best parts of the trailers are the apparent flying stuff, that looks very fluid and natural. Just the little glimpses I've seen have been eyecatching.

  • Aug. 2, 2009, 10:38 p.m. CST

    Ugh I just finished reading. Harry you've GOT to stop...

    by D.Vader

    ... Being so damn confusing with your writing. I can't tell who you're talking about half the time when you have sentences missing subject-verb agreements.

  • Aug. 2, 2009, 10:39 p.m. CST

    And HARRY, please stop acting like we've seen the film

    by D.Vader

    You throw out character names and relationships like we're already au fait with the film and know its intricacies. It makes your reviews difficult to read.

  • Aug. 2, 2009, 11:02 p.m. CST

    Park Chan? Jackie Chan's brother?

    by lockesbrokenleg

  • Aug. 2, 2009, 11:19 p.m. CST

    Most redundant AICN title this year.

    by white_vader

    What were the chances you WOULDN'T like it Harry? Nil. <p> And yeah, the moronic Potter analogy. WTF dude?

  • Aug. 2, 2009, 11:27 p.m. CST

    The only Asian horror I've liked so far...

    by uberman

    was THE HOST, which was a giant monster movie, and excellent at that. Most of the Asian horror I've seen all seems the same (Ring, Grudge, etc). I hope this will be better, but Im wont know for another 6 months at least, as I'll have to wait for the DVD as our theater chain specialises in bad 'top 40' American cinema only.

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 12:04 a.m. CST

    Obligatory Harry is a Fat Fuck Post

    by raystevensonwarzone

    Harry is Thirsty for Cheezeburgerz! Get it? Get it guys? Seriously, he is one huge fatass fuck!

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 12:06 a.m. CST

    No coincidence Korean movie ghosts look the same

    by BrandLoyalist

    I am told the pale skin and long hair parted down the middle look is nothing less than the traditional Korean concept of a ghost. Kind of mandatory. I think the robe is important tool. The only things up for grabs are accessories -- belt, shoes, handbag.

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 12:36 a.m. CST

    Trannyformers_Apologist:

    by Playkins

    Yes I did, quite a chuckle about that one.

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 12:40 a.m. CST

    I got crap awhile back for labeling this...

    by Playkins

    ...a "Japanese" film, and therefore boring, where I had meant to say Asian. While I realize the two are not interchangeable, it doesn't change the fact that with the exception of some Hong Kong movies, I tend to think Asian films are extremely boring. No, I didn't like "Oldboy", and I don't care how wrong you think I am. Haven't seen "Host". About the only non-HK asian film I've enjoyed in the last 10 years was "Battle Royale".

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 12:49 a.m. CST

    The Hangover outgrosses Star Trek '09!!!!!!!

    by JuanSanchez

    As of this weekend, The Hangover has made $255,776,000, topping Star Trek's $254,642,000.

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 1:05 a.m. CST

    The Man Had Taste

    by logboy

    Despite covering a lot (perhaps predominantly, sorry) of drivel, I must admit there's some absolutely stunning choices of films hidden away in smaller columns and articles - the DVD releases of the week especially. Harry, you do have great taste, and I'm glad you like this one so much.

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 2:05 a.m. CST

    I bet AsimovLives saw Hangover about 100 times.

    by lockesbrokenleg

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 2:20 a.m. CST

    Great review Harry!

    by EveryonesReimagining_or_ER

    I was hoping the old boy wouldn't disappoint. Good job.

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 3:04 a.m. CST

    So... in the scheme of Park's films...

    by Happyfat73

    In the scheme of Park's films, where does this one fit? At the moment I rank them as Oldboy, Lady Vengeance, JSA and Sympathy for Mr Vengeance (Haven't seen I'm a Robot). Where might Thirst slot into that list?</p> I reckon that just between the oeuvres of Park Chan-Wook and Bong Joon-Ho alone, Korean cinema kicks the arse of most non-hollywood markets.

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 3:22 a.m. CST

    You know how, one day, Scorsese did a non-violent film...

    by Mr Gorilla

    Well - there was emotional violence, for sure, but not blood and guns violence. I'm talking about THE AGE OF INNOCENCE, but could also be talking about KING OF COMEDY. Or maybe, nearly, AFTER HOURS. Anyway, the point being he stretched himself. Like when Howard Hawks went from westerns to comedies, or when John Ford went from westerns to war films. Anyway.

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 4:09 a.m. CST

    KUNDUN isn't a splatterfest either

    by palimpsest

    Nor ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANY MORE, or NEW YORK NEW YORK, or his segment of NEW YORK STORIES, or THE AVIATOR...

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 7:12 a.m. CST

    In the Realm of the Senses

    by cornholiosbungholio

    I really didn't see any point to that movie. It was just graphic sex. No idea why it deserved a Criterion release. But then again, even Armageddon got one!

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 7:57 a.m. CST

    The Point Of In The Realm Of The Senses

    by LaserPants

    is exploring the eternal emptiness of existence and the inevitable failure of using obsessive, compulsive, carnality as a means to avoid the Endless Nothing, culminating with the ultimate outcome of death and castration. <br><br>In short: I think you have to be an adult and/or have lived a little, seen the highs and lows, fucked a ton of girls, still being dissatisfied in general with the Mindnumbing Pointlessness of Existence, in order to appreciate the film. Come back to it when your older and more jaded and it will open up to you.

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 9:55 a.m. CST

    HARRY, thanks for ruining asian girls for me

    by Stabby

    I rented In the Realm of the Senses at Harry's recommendation and found it not erotic but repulsive. I'm with cornhol and did not see any point to it other than to shock. Raping an old woman until she urinates on herself which the vile couple fines amusing. Dipping fried wantons into the woman's privates and then eating it (not sexy, just gross) and then sticking a hard boiled egg up there for good measure. I would avoid this Criterion Collection (Really?!) at all costs, especially if you want to continue to find asian women hot.

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 11:59 a.m. CST

    Stabby, just google Yuri Ebihara

    by D.Vader

    That will help you remember how cute and hot Asian girls can be.

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 1:15 p.m. CST

    Shocking, Harry gives this film a positive review...

    by gringostar

    was there ever any doubt... I am not saying the this film doesn't deserve the praise as I have not seen it, but I could see this review coming a mile away. Harry is very predictable - and that does not in any way infer that he is consistent, just predictable.

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 2:43 p.m. CST

    STABBY - THAT IS FUCKING DISGUSTING

    by BringingSexyBack

    Are people entertained by this shit? WTF Harry

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 2:50 p.m. CST

    KOREAN CHICKS ARE HIGH MAINTENANCE ANYWAY

    by BringingSexyBack

    The only one who seems to be worth the effort is Kelly Choi. Mmmmmm....

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 2:53 p.m. CST

    park chan wook. superman. jim caveizel. arnold vosloo.

    by ironic_name

    make it happen.

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 4:05 p.m. CST

    Caveizel prob. wouldn't work with Wook

    by dancetothebeatofthelivingdead

    I agree with one of the posters up there begging Spielberg and Will Smith to stay the fuck away from Oldboy. The fact that they are sticking "Closer to the Manga" is a slap in the face to the original movie, as if a remake was necessary because the original lacked something. <br> <br> There's a certain conceit that goes along with remaking a movie like Oldboy but doing it differently. The original was perfect, let it alone. <br> <br> As far as In The Realm Of The Senses, I just bought it the other day, as there's not much Criterion to choose from on Blu-Ray, so I bought based on the Criterion name alone, not knowing much about it. I took it to Disc Replay the same night. I understand art and subtext and exposition. It's not like I didn;t get it or missed something. It's just a disgusting, horrible film that shouldn;t be mentioned in the same breath as Criterion. But as someone else mentioned above, even Armageddon got a Criterion release, fuck...even Salo did.

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 4:14 p.m. CST

    Harry's gunning for the DVD cover.

    by Marv Spaulding

    "If you want something with teeth, this will quench your THIRST!"

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 4:19 p.m. CST

    "LIKE PUSSY JUICE COVERED WONTONS!"

    by BringingSexyBack

    - Harry Knowles, Aint-It-Cool-News

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 5:04 p.m. CST

    I'm seeing this!!! BTW, saw Blood and it was quite good!

    by HollywoodHellraiser

    The young woman who played Saya is a cutie and didn't cornball her role! Too bad the other actors besides(old guy) took their parts way too seriously.

  • Aug. 3, 2009, 5:53 p.m. CST

    I have high expectations

    by Teddy Artery

    with every Park Chan-Wook movie. He hasn't failed me yet. Tremendously creative with a singular vision in the film world. I wonder what he'd do with an episode of "Lost"?

  • Aug. 4, 2009, 2:08 a.m. CST

    No Alamo showing?

    by amsterdan

    grr. arrg.

  • Aug. 4, 2009, 2:55 a.m. CST

    teddy....

    by Stan Grossman

    Great fucking idea! I wonder if the bad robot boys surf the talkbacks. Lets hope cause it would be a match made in heaven.(not sarcasm)

  • Aug. 4, 2009, 9:26 a.m. CST

    Mmm...fried wontons ....

    by ReportAbuse

    I'm going to the Chinese buffett down the block now.

  • Aug. 4, 2009, 9:30 a.m. CST

    BTW...I'm surprised that no one has mentioned

    by ReportAbuse

    THE HUNGER yet. By the title of this film I'd think there was a homage of sorts going on.

  • Aug. 7, 2009, 2:26 a.m. CST

    future help is funny

    by sherlock_junior

    FHIRST!!! :D :D

  • Aug. 9, 2009, 8:25 p.m. CST

    Harry I'm your biggest fan, Where the fuck is your

    by AlienDragQueen

    District 9 review??????????

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