Thirst isn't the best introduction to Chan-wook Park

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Chan-wook Park’s Thirst, which is showing at the Cedar Lee Theatre, covers some of the same ground as his acclaimed Vengeance Trilogy but somehow doesn’t quite compare. The story starts out as something of a period piece as a young priest Sang-hyun (Song Kang-ho) becomes frustrated at the rampant disease that’s killing off the parishioners in his rural church. So he goes to an experimental research lab to be infected with the virus so that he can possibly find a cure. The antidote doesn't work, however, and boils cover his body as he begins to deteriorate. After a transfusion, he recovers, but the blood he’s given is tainted and he finds he now has strange new powers. In an odd twist, however, when he drinks blood, the disease goes into remission. So he begins drinking the blood of an old man who’s in a coma, thinking that will inflict the least amount of damage on the world. But when he meets childhood friend Tae-ju (Kim Ok-vin), he begins a life of depravity that truly conflicts with his religious beliefs. While the graphic scenes of death and dismemberment are truly riveting, something about this story isn’t. Perhaps it’s that the vampire thing has been done to death. Perhaps it’s that the film’s love story is rather generic. And perhaps it’s that, though Korean star Kang-ho is really superb as the perverted priest, the supporting cast simply isn’t up to the task. Whatever the case, Thirst isn't the best introduction to the great South Korean director. ** ½

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