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by Brian Brooks
May 15, 2009 7:33 AM
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Picking a Fight with the Vatican? Park's "Thirst" Oozes Blood

Left to right: actor Song Kang-ho, director Park Chan-wook and actress Kim Ok-vin at the "Thirst" press conference in Cannes today. Photo by Eugene Hernandez.

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."

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