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Through a failed medical experiment, a priest is stricken with vampirism and is forced to abandon his ascetic ways.
For more about Thirst and the Thirst Blu-ray release, see Thirst Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on January 19, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Song Kang-ho, Shin Ha-kyun, Kim Ok-bin
Director: Park Chan-wook
» See full cast & crew
Thirst Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, January 19, 2010
Winner of the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Korean director Park Chan-wook's dark and deliciously perverse "Bakjwi" a.k.a "Thirst" (2009) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Palisades Tartan. The only supplemental features on the disc are: trailer; UK exclusive interview with director Park Chan-wook, conducted by Jessica Mellor; and UK exclusive edited highlights of director masterclass at NFTS. With optional English subtitles. Region-B "locked".
A young priest, Sang-hyeon (Song Kang-ho The Good, The Bad, The Weird), volunteers for a vaccine project and nearly dies. After a lifesaving blood transfusion, he becomes a vampire. Looking to quench his constant thirst for blood, the priest begins working in a large hospital with a never-ending supply of terminally ill patients - who he literally siphons off. The priest also meets an old friend (Shin Ha-kyun, Welcome to Dongmakgol) and immediately falls for his wife, Tae-ju (Kim Ok-bin, The Accidental Gangster and the Mistaken Courtesan). The two begin a torrid affair and he reveals to her his secret. Tae-ju begs the priest to grant her eternal life, and, eventually, he does.
Things get complicated when the priest kills Tae-ju's husband. Filled with joy, Tae-ju ignores her lover's warnings and indulges in a dangerous feast. Meanwhile, Tae-ju's mother (Kim Hae-sook) becomes paralyzed, and the priest reveals to his blind mentor what has become of him. He also asks for absolution. The blind man offers the priest a deal - he would grant him absolution if he makes him immortal.
There is a little bit of everything in Korean director Park Chan-wook's Thirst - horror, romance, humor, drama and satire. If you have only heard that it is just another "weird vampire film", comparable to Swedish director Tomas Alfredson's "Let The Right One In", and have made plans to see it, I must warn you that there are practically no similarities between the two films, other than perhaps the fact that both use vampirism as a foundation for their stories.
Director Chan-wook has claimed that Thirst was inspired by Emil Zola's Therese Raquin, which French director Marcel Carne filmed in 1953, but, again, I am having a difficult time finding any common themes between the two. Once you see Thirst, you will understand why.
Something else that needs to be said about Thirst is that even though it contains plenty of graphic scenes, it is hardly a "serious" horror film. Director Chan-wook has infused it with so much dark humor that at times it feels like a giant farce (a few key sequences look as if they have been taken straight out of a Tsui Hark film).
The sex in Thirst is different - and erotic (shocking, I know). Probably not in the way most viewers can imagine, but there is something genuinely arousing in those prolonged lovemaking scenes from the second half of the film.
The acting is fantastic. Korean superstar Song Kang-ho deserves a lot of credit for his fascinating character transformations - they provide Thirst with an enormous amount of depth. Kim Ok-bin is an actress most viewers are probably unfamiliar with, but I am convinced that after Thirst she would be easily recognized around the world.
Visually, the film is arguably the best yet cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon has contributed to (he has contributed to most of director Chan-wook's earlier films, including Old Boy, Three...Extremes and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance). Many of the panoramic vistas, for example, and in particular the final act, are beautifully lensed. Thirst also boasts a unique music soundtrack - a collection of original tunes by Cho Young-ook and Johann Sebastian Bach's cantata "Ich habe genug".
In 2009, Thirst won the prestigious Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
Thirst Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Park Chan-wook's Thirst arrives on Blu-tay courtesy of British distributors Palisades Tartan.
This is an excellent transfer! Fine object detail is terrific, clarity very good and contrast levels consistent throughout the entire film. However, what really stands out here is the color-scheme. Blues, greens, browns, grays, blacks and whites are incredibly rich, giving the film a unique look that is as impressive as its story (the final ten or so minutes are absolutely stunning). Furthermore, the transfer is free of heavy edge-enhancement and macroblocking. I did not detect any disturbing aliasing either. When blown through a digital projector, Thirst looks simply beautiful. I noticed a few tiny dots very early into the film, but did not see any scratches or stains to report in this review. To sum it all up, I feel very comfortable stating that this is the best looking Blu-ray release I have seen from Palisades Tartan thus far. Bravo! (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free player in order to access its content).
Thirst Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the record, Palisades Tartan have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they split the image frame and the black bar below it.
The audio treatment is every bit as impressive as the video treatment. Though not too active, the bass is strong and powerful. The rear channels are used intelligently - there are more than a few very unique ambient effects that I noticed (for example, pay close attention to the scene where Sang-hyeon and Tae-ju confront each other on the rooftops). The high frequencies are not distorted. The dialog is crisp, clear and exceptionally easy to follow. Furthermore, I did not detect any disturbing pops, cracks, or hiss to report in this review. There are no balance issues with Cho Young-ook's music soundtrack either. The English translation is also of exceptionally high quality.
Thirst Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Interview - a UK exclusive interview with director Park Chan-wook, conducted by Jessica Mellor (Daily Mirror). The Korean director discusses the strange journey the two main characters embark upon, their character transformations, the unique qualities of Thirst, the shooting process, etc. In Korean, with optional English subtitles. (14 min).
Masterclass Highlights - UK exclusive edited highlights of director masterclass at NFTS. Here the Korean directors addresses the unique female characters in his films, film financing, improvising, etc. In Korean and English, with optional English subtitles. (14 min).
Trailer - the original theatrical trailer for the film. In Korean, with imposed English subtitles. (2 min).
Thirst Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
British distributors Palisades Tartan deserve a lot of credit for bringing Park Chan-wook's dark and deliciously perverse Thirst to Blu-ray. This really is a fantastic package whose only downside is the fact that it does not offer a better selection of supplemental features. I am now very excited to see where Palisades Tartan go from here. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Thirst Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Thirst Blu-ray Announced in the UK (Update) - January 12, 2010
Palisades Tartan has announced that it will release Park Chan-wook's 'Thirst' on Blu-ray on January 25, 2010. There is no information regarding region coding. Note that in the US, this erotic vampire movie by the director of 'Oldboy' is not getting a Blu-ray release, ...
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