Showing posts with label Oh Dal-su. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oh Dal-su. Show all posts

Friday, 9 March 2012


Park Chan-wook is at it again. Thirst is a breathtaking film from the Director that bought us Oldboy and I’m a Cyborg, but that’s ok. Sang-hyun (Song Kang-ho The Host & The Good, The Bad, The Weird) is an unhappy and depressed priest who volunteers for a medical experiment knowing that it will likely kill him. It is his way of killing himself without facing hell as suicide is a great sin for a Catholic. After being injected with a deadly virus and a prototype vaccine, Sang is cured but has a terrible side effect – he is now a vampire. Sang struggles to deal with the two sides of his personality and vows not to kill but to steal blood from comatose patients at the hospital in which he volunteers. Meanwhile he meets a family he once knew when he was young and becomes friendly with them. Their adopted daughter Tae-ju (Kim Ok-bin) is unhappily married to their son and is treated like a slave by the rest of the family. She is drawn to Sang and he to her and the two begin a strange and erotic love affair. Sang must then decide whether to ‘turn’ Tae-ju and risk turning her and her increasingly erratic and unpredictable behaviour into a monstrous killing machine.

Park Chan-wook is fast becoming my favourite director and is the master of making a beautiful looking film. All of his films have a wonderful look to them, posses exquisite framing and cinematography and Thirst is no exception. Every shot is creative. There is never a time when the director simply has a camera in a conventional or boring position. There is always something to each shot. Park is a unique film maker and his trademark style and technique is visible to see. The internal sets look tremendous too. The family home at the centre of the story is transformed late on and looks wonderfully clinical and menacing. The all white set looks strangely beautiful when spattered with blood.

The story is attention-grabbing, crazy and well told. Both central characters undergo a transformation during the film and it is a joy to watch. The film deals with themes of religious duty, suicide, love, deceit and moral ambiguity. Each idea is dealt with in a satisfying and knowledgeable way. I did feel the film was slightly too long and that sometimes the story was a bit clunky but these are my only criticisms of an otherwise superb film.

The acting is without exception flawless. Song Kang-ho is an actor I could watch all day. He has a terrific range and I haven’t seen him give a bad performance yet. Here he transforms from a mild Priest into a conscientious but dangerous vampire and carries off both roles with aplomb. Beautiful newcomer Kim Ok-bin is equally as impressive as the innocent and impish young woman who turns into a vicious and vile seductress. Her transformation is incredible and she acts both parts perfectly. At times it was like watching two actresses. The supporting cast is also excellent, in particular Kim Hae-sook who plays Tae-ju’s mother and Shin Ha-kyun who is brilliant as Tae-ju’s idiot husband.

This film is obviously a must watch for Park Chan-wook fans and should be for fans of darkly funny and stylish horror. The violence is tasteful yet gory and the story gets stranger with each new scene. It features some fantastic acting and is wonderfully directed by Park.  


The Good, The Bad, The Weird

Set in 1930s Manchuria, The Good, the Bad, the Weird is a Korean Western about three men and a map. The film focuses on the three men’s rivalry as they try to keep the map for themselves and reach the treasure that the map points to while being pursued by the Japanese army and Chinese bandits. The three main characters are a bounty hunter known as The Good (Jung Woo-sung), The Bad (Lee Byung-hun), a no nonsense killer and The Weird (Song Kang-ho The Host, Thirst) who is a train robber.

The film features everything you’d want from a Western with great scenery, stand-offs, a train robbery and great action throughout. The fact that it is set in Asia makes little difference as it is a true Western. The directorial style of Kim Ji-woon is visually appealing and reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino. There is plenty of detailed stylization but it is not overdone and it helps to immerse the audience in the film. You feel very much as though you are part of the action thanks to the skill of Kim. The film features the odd twist and a mixture of serious Western dialogue and more funny dialogue from The Weird. The cinematography is wonderful with plenty of panoramic vistas, fast cut editing and unique camera movements. The costume design is also excellent. The Bad wears a modern, dark suit which together with his straight, dark hair and piercing eyes help him to seem nastier. The Good wears a traditional Western gunslingers outfit but The Weird, given his name, wears flying hat and goggles, paper gloves and traditional Korean dress. Each costume matches the character well.

The film is at its best during the more action packed sequences. They are without exception very well choreographed and acted and the film’s main set piece in a thieves market is superb and reminded me of a more light hearted 13 Assassins. It is not so successful in the more quiet moments but I think that is more of a testament to the action rather than a criticism of the less action packed scenes. While the film doesn’t have anywhere near the level of tension as Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly on which it’s loosely based, the final Mexican Standoff was excellent and bought the film to a satisfying close. On the downside, the story is noticeably lacking and back story mostly non existent but had the plot been thicker I doubt the film would have been improved much as it is the action that draws the audience in.

The acting is outstanding, especially from the main cast. Jung’s Good and Lee’s Bad are similar in many ways and both actors bring a quiet, determined and cold-hearted feeling to their characters but the Bad is much more unsympathetic. Lee performs the role of the villain superbly. Song is excellent as The Weird, a man who seems unfit for the life he leads but somehow gets through every scrape unhurt. He brings a lot of humour to the role but is no slouch when the action starts. Though the acting is great, this is definitely director Kim Ji-woon’s film. He stamps his mark all over the proceedings and delivers an action packed and funny Western to rival anything from Hollywood.