Thirst 박쥐 (2009) – Korean Movie

August 9, 2009 jeansdream
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This Korean movie, Thirst, was released in Toronto yesterday August 7th, 2009, along with other movies like G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (with Korean actor Lee Byung Hun), Julie & Julia,  (500) Days of Summer etc.

I told my hubby last week about Thirst and G.I. Joe.  Thursday I started to see the Thirst ad (the N.A. version (the one on the left in this link) was actually banned in Korea; the one on the right is the Korean version) in Toronto’s newspaper.  I noticed it’s only screened in two theatres.  (I think Thirst has limited screening in Canada – only B.C., Ontario and Quebec currently.)  I asked Hubby if we could watch either one Saturday.   Friday evening I brought it up again. ” There are more theatres showing G.I. Joe…” I said.  “You’re kidding…” Hubby said.  Hubby even knew that there’s a Korean actor in it, tho he doesn’t know exactly the name, but he got the family name and the last character in the name correct.  Finally I said, either one.  Then half an hour later, he said, “Thirst.  At least, it has a 7.9 score… ”  Thirst it was!  We watched it today!  😉

Director, writer and producer Park Chan Wook 박찬욱 – a name familiar to Korean movie goers.  His Vengeance Trilogy (3 movies:  Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), Oldboy (2003), Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005) ), I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK (2006) are highly received – many have won awards in international film festivals.   Park co-wrote Thirst with Jeong Seo Gyeong 정서경.  They have previously written Sympathy for Lady Vengeance and I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK together.  Thirst‘s cast includes Song Kang Ho 송강호 as Sang Hyun, Kim Ok Bin 김옥빈 as Tae Ju, Shin Ha Kyun 신하균 as Tae Ju’s husband, Kim Hae Sook 김해숙 as Tae Ju’s mother in law.

The story is about Sang Hyun, an orphaned, Catholic priest participated as a volunteer for a medical research project fighting a deadly virus which mostly attacks men that are sexually inactive; among the patients many are missionaries, hence the virus is called Emmanual Virus, EV.  During the course of his volunteer term, he got blisters all over his face and limbs.  At the end, EV caused him to cough blood.  He got blood transplantation on the surgery bed.  He’s certified (dead) by the doctor but he came back alive.  He returned to Korea as an infamous band-aided priest who’s the only survivor among 500+ volunteers who died in the project.  Many have come to ask for his blessings for their sick family members.  There he met his childhood friend and his wife, Tae Ju who was abondaned when she was very little in Tae Ju’s house.  Tae Ju then stayed with her now-husband and was arranged by the mother to marry her son.  Then the story continued along how Sang Hyun turned into a vampire (the Korean movie name means “bat”) and how he and Tae Ju murdered her husband and the aftermath.

This movie is rated 18A (Ontario/B.C.) (I originally thought it’s rated R).  It has blood sheds.  It has murders.   It has violence.  It has sex scenes and both the actor and the actress go nude.  It doesn’t have sudden scary / frightening scenes.  Park tells the story in a direct way – he doesn’t magnify or enhance or tweak these elements in a fancy way.  Don’t be mistaken that it’s within the ordinary – it’s not quite that!  He’s brutally and honestly presenting the mental (and eventually they physical) states of Sang Hyun to his audience – his pain, his guilt, his lust, his control, his let-loose, his falling, his awakening.  His take on vampire movies is atypical – it’s different than how other directors tell vampire stories.   Blood crave, the sun, plus some super power seem to be the few common denominators among vampire-themed movies; even when told, they are done differently.  There’s no vampire teeth to show here, and who has ever seen a vampire with blisters? 

Since the centre of the story revolves around a priest, there’s unavoidably a religious tone ringing throughout the movie tho not a heavy nor deep one.  In a quarrel scene, I’m subtly reminded of Adam and Eve – not sure if it is intentional or not.  I see the theme of rebirth – life transformation; however it’s the opposite direction as supposed to be a better person.  Instead of a spiritual struggle, perhaps it’s more appropriate to say that the discusion is about barebone human nature.  I also witness a new application of a ruler.  :O

Love the cast!  I’ll go back to The Host (2006) and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance to follow up on Song Kang Ho.  I watched Sympathy for Lady Vengeance for Lee Young Ae but I don’t remember him nor know about Park.  Thirst is the fourth collaboration (hope I didn’t count wrong) between Park (director/co-writer) and Song (co-writer).  Certainly look forward to future ones.  I watched I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK because of Im Su Jeong and Rain (Bi), and I didn’t know about Park either.  I’ll try to catch Oldboy.  Kim Ok Bin is also good.  This is a tough role to play.  Especially enjoy her post-transformation part – she seems stronger (and crazier) but she’s actually the weaker one.   Song and Kim compliment each other nicely here.   Of course, Shin Ha Kyun who plays the half-guilty/half-framed sicky husband, and Kim Hae Sook who’s the frantic and depressing Mother-In-Law help!  The credit also goes to Park as well.

Park is not just straight forward and serious.  He can be amusing (humorous) too – some scenes made me giggle.  When did I last giggle in a vampire movie?  Sang Hyun tried to finish his bat-like life twice – I found both sequences comical in a way.  If you’ve watched I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK, then you shouldn’t be surprised.  I am also impressed in how he handled the post hubby-murder scenes.  So humorous, so daunting, so real and so sad!  He’s done a good job in balancing the tone of the movie.

Hubby asked me a trivial question after:  how was the Mother-In-Law able to move her finger?  (She was paralyzed during the movie; I just thought she wasn’t so paralyzed so the story could develop further… but hey, my hubby gave a perfect reason!)   Any one?

If you haven’t watched Thirst, give it a try.  I consider myself lucky that I don’t need to wait for it to be released on DVD before I can watch it.  Let me know what you think of it.  -yo (please).


** Updates on Sept 5th (source from dramabeans):  “Thirst” brought awards to the following in the 17th Chunsa Film Festival :

     Park Chan Wook – Director Award

     Song Kang Ho – Top Excellence, Actor

     Kim Hae Sook – Supporting Actress

     Park Hee Joo – Lighting

     Congratulations!!  ***


Entry Filed under: Korean / Korean drama,Movie Ping 影評

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. james  |  October 9, 2009 at 3:42 am

    hello !!
    i lile to watch 박쥐…
    can u help me to find any web..
    thanks let me know

    • 2. jeansdream  |  October 10, 2009 at 12:08 am

      Hi james, I watched it in the theatre and haven’t come across any websites yet… sorry…

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