Bakjwi (Thirst) (2009) – 4/5

One of Chan-wook Park‘s more messed up films, and that’s saying a lot considering that this is the man who gave us “Oldboy” and “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance,” among other weird and twisted films.

Hmm. Where to begin. I enjoyed it. Park is one of my favorite directors, and “Lady Vengeance” is one of my favorite films. He often doesn’t use narrative in his films to tell a story; he uses it to express a character’s emotions and varying degrees of psychology, and this is no different. The plot doesn’t really make any kind of sense. How the protagonist becomes a vampire is hazy at best. Something about an experiment, or a treatment or something? Who knows. It’s not important. And some of the stuff that happens is a tad illogical.

And the character motivations are all over the place, which is actually something I really liked despite it not being narratively realistic at all. Characters are never what they seem, and just when you have them figured out, something happens that flips your expectations of them completely, out of nowhere. Usually this is a bad thing, but it works here. In fact, I have never seen a film that pulls such a thing off as well as this does.

Anyway, the beginning is a bit slow. The film could have used a good half hour shaved from it, namely at the beginning, and during the weird “guilt” hallucination scenes that take place near the middle that are funny, but go on way too long. When it finally does kick in, though, it alternates between really cool and really freaking bizarre. Just weird scene after weird scene. And it features some of the strangest sex scenes I think I’ve ever seen, though one in particular is really sexy and well done. But weird.

The last 45 minutes or so, though, is simply great filmmaking. I wish more of the film had been like it, actually. There’s one scene in particular where a transformation takes place between the two leads, and my God is it great and bloody and disturbing. From there, the film becomes even more violent and twisted, and more of a straightforward horror, and the ending is as hilarious as it is tragic. Too bad the rest of it couldn’t have been as engaging.

So, overall, though not my favorite of Park’s films, it was still pretty damn brilliant and unique and weird and twisted and sexual. The script could have definitely used a few more passes. The guy is a born filmmaker,though, probably the best to come along in decades, and this is just another example of his brilliance.

Check it out!

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