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Picking a Fight with the Vatican? Park's "Thirst" Oozes Blood

Indiewire By Brian Brooks | Indiewire May 15, 2009 at 7:33AM

The Roman Catholic Church has been getting into the film biz again lately, and the Catholic Church may have more on its holy plate then just Ron Howard's "Angels & Demons." Korean director Park Chan-Wook's ("I'm a Cyborg") latest thriller involves a priest (of the Catholic variety), blood sucking, and even lust. Can the Vatican be that far away?
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The Roman Catholic Church has been getting into the film biz again lately, and the Catholic Church may have more on its holy plate then just Ron Howard's "Angels & Demons." Korean director Park Chan-Wook's ("I'm a Cyborg") latest thriller involves a priest (of the Catholic variety), blood sucking, and even lust. Can the Vatican be that far away?

"In the film you see a cup filled with wine as if it's blood. This could allude to vampirism or religion, but for me it's just a joke," said Park in Cannes Friday. "If the Vatican is as interested in Tom Hanks' film as mine, I'd be thrilled." (Hanks stars "Demons," which comes out today).

Along with a heeping fill of blood sucking (with a bounty of slurping sounds and moans of ecstasy), the film includes a good amount of lust. Sang-hyun (Song Kang-ho) is a beloved small town priest, who devotedly serves at a local hospital. He travels to Africa to volunteer as a test subject in an experiment to find a vaccine to a new deadly virus. During the experiment, he's infected, but a transfusion of some unidentified blood brings him back to life. The blood has also turned him into a vampire.

After his return home, the faithful believe he's a saint who can heal his flock. Among those who come to him is his childhood friend Kang-woo (Shin Ha-kyun), and his wife, Tae-ju (Kim Ok-vin). The good priest is immediately drawn to her and, not so coincidentally, she's drawn to him. He also realizes he's a vampire and they begin a secret affair and he asks her to run away with him. She turns him down, and instead tries to involve the priest in a plot to kill her husband.

Tae-ju also joins the undead and though the priest still feels his mortal desires to be good, Tae-ju seems to take to her vampirism, and even questions the immorality of eating human blood - almost like Eve before eating the fruit in the Garden of Eden.

"I didn't find it difficult during the shooting," said the seductive Kim Ok-vin in Cannes. "There was so much blood in the film, that afterward when I saw blook in movies or whatever, I was happy to see it again."

Park's film is a departure from the usual vampire film, void of some of the usual standards used in cinematic history - though perhaps save "Twilight." "Ten years ago when I first started thinking of this film, I wanted my vampires to be more realistic, as if they were around in everyday life. So I didn't use the teeth, garlic, haunted castles and crosses. I wanted to get rid of these cliches."

This article is related to: Features, Thirst (Bakjwi)