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Thirst (2009 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Theatrical release poster
Korean name
Revised RomanizationBakjwi
Directed byPark Chan-wook
Screenplay byPark Chan-wook
Jeong Seo-kyeong
Based onThérèse Raquin
by Émile Zola
Produced byPark Chan-wook
Ahn Soo-hyun
CinematographyChung Chung-hoon
Edited byKim Sang-bum
Kim Jae-bum
Music byJo Yeong-wook
Moho Films[1]
Distributed by
Release date
  • 30 April 2009 (2009-04-30)
Running time
134 minutes[3]
  • South Korea[1]
  • United States[1]
Box officeUS$13 million[4]

Thirst (Korean박쥐; literally "bat") is a 2009 horror film written, produced and directed by Park Chan-wook. Based on the 1867 novel Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola,[5] the film stars Song Kang-ho as Sang-hyun, a Catholic priest who turns into a vampire as a result of a failed medical experiment, and falls in love with Tae-ju (Kim Ok-bin), the wife of his childhood friend (Shin Ha-kyun).[6]

An international co-production of South Korea and the United States, Thirst was released in South Korea on 30 April 2009, where it was a commercial success. It received generally positive reviews from critics and won the Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, where it was also nominated for the Palme d'Or.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Thirst (2009): Horror Movie Review - Asian Vampire Movies
  • Thirst (2009) trailer w/subs



Sang-hyun is a Catholic priest who volunteers at a hospital, providing ministry to the patients. He is well respected for his unwavering faith and dedicated service, but he secretly suffers from feelings of doubt and sadness. Sang-hyun volunteers to participate in an experiment to find a vaccine for the deadly Emmanuel Virus (EV). Although the experiment fails, and Sang-hyun is infected with the seemingly fatal disease, he makes a complete and rapid recovery after receiving a blood transfusion.

News of his marvelous recovery quickly spreads among the devout parishioners of Sang-hyun's congregation, and they begin to believe that he has a miraculous gift for healing. Soon, thousands more flock to Sang-hyun's services. Among the new churchgoers are Kang-woo, Sang-hyun's childhood friend, and his family. Kang-woo invites his old friend to join the weekly mahjong night at his house, and there, Sang-hyun finds himself attracted to Kang-woo's wife, Tae-ju. Sang-hyun later relapses into his illness and wakes in dire need of shelter from the sunlight, having become a vampire.

At first, Sang-hyun feels a newfound vigor but soon he is aghast to find himself drinking blood from a comatose patient. After attempting to kill himself, Sang-hyun finds himself irresistibly drawn to human blood. To make matters worse, the symptoms of EV return and only seem to go away when he drinks blood. Desperately trying to avoid committing a murder, Sang-hyun resorts to stealing blood transfusion packs from the hospital.

Tae-ju, who lives with her ill husband and overprotective mother-in-law, Mrs. Ra, leads a dreary life. She is drawn to Sang-hyun and his physicality, and unable to resist odd desires for him. The two begin an affair, but when Tae-ju discovers the truth about Sang-hyun, she retreats in fear. When Sang-hyun pleads with her to run away with him, she turns him down, suggesting that they kill her husband instead.[7]

When Sang-hyun's superior at the monastery requests some vampire blood so that his eyes may heal and he may see the world before dying, in disgust Sang-hyun flees from the monastery. He moves into Mrs. Ra's house so that he may secretly bed with Tae-ju. Sang-hyun notices bruises on Tae-ju and assumes her husband is the cause, a suspicion she sheepishly confirms. Sang-hyun decides to kill Kang-woo during a fishing trip with the couple. He pulls Kang-woo into the water and claims to his superior that he placed the body inside a cabinet in a house at the bottom of the lake, putting a rock on the body to keep it from floating to the surface. Sang-hyun's symptoms return so he kills his superior at the monastery and feeds on his blood.

A police investigation ensues. Mrs. Ra drinks often after her son's death, sinking psychosomatically into a completely paralyzed state. Sang-hyun and Tae-ju are haunted by terrifying visions of Kang-woo's bloated corpse. When Tae-ju lets slip that Kang-woo never abused her, Sang-hyun is enraged because he only killed Kang-woo to protect her. Teary-eyed, she asks Sang-hyun to kill her and let her return to her husband. He obliges by snapping her neck, but after feeding on her blood, decides he does not want to be alone forever and feeds her corpse his own blood. She awakens as a vampire. Mrs. Ra, knocked to the floor by a seizure, witnesses everything.

Tae-ju quickly shows herself to be a remorseless monster, killing indiscriminately to feed, while Sang-hyun acts more conservatively, only killing when necessary. Their conflicting ethics result in a chase across the rooftops and a short battle. Some time later, Mrs. Ra manages to communicate to Kang-woo's friends that Sang-hyun and Tae-ju killed her son. Tae-ju quickly disposes of two of the friends, and Sang-hyun appears to eliminate the third. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Sang-hyun tells Tae-ju that they must flee or be caught. Sang-hyun then places Mrs. Ra in his car, and with Tae-ju, drives into the night. Before leaving town, he makes a visit to the camp of worshipers who consider him the miracle EV survivor. He makes it seem like he tried to rape a girl, leading the campers to chase him away, no longer idolizing him.

Back at the house, the third friend escapes, whom Sang-hyun only pretended to kill to protect her from Tae-ju. Upon waking from a nap in the car, Tae-ju realizes that Sang-hyun has driven to a desolate field with no cover from the imminent dawn. Realizing his plan to have them both burn when dawn breaks, Tae-ju tries to hide but Sang-hyun foils her every attempt. Resigning herself to her fate, she joins him on the car hood, and both are burnt to ash by the sun, as Mrs. Ra watches from the backseat of the car.


  • Song Kang-ho as Sang-hyun, a Catholic priest, who volunteers to be a patient of the "Emmanuel Virus," becoming a vampire after receiving blood from an unknown origin. He then struggles to deal with his newfound lust for blood.
  • Kim Ok-bin as Tae-ju, a young wife of Sang-hyun's childhood friend, fed up with her mundane life while Sang-hyun develops a new love for her.
  • Kim Hae-sook as Mrs. Ra, the overly protective mother of Kang-woo.
  • Shin Ha-kyun as Kang-woo, Sang-hyun's sick childhood friend and Tae-ju's husband, whom he annoys and abuses according to her.
  • Park In-hwan as Priest Roh, a blind priest superior to Sang-hyun, who wishes to see again.
  • Song Young-chang as Seung-dae, a retired cop and Kang-woo's friend.
  • Oh Dal-su as Young-du, another one of Kang-woo's friends.
  • Ra Mi-ran as Nurse Yu
  • Eriq Ebouaney as Emmanuel Research Director
  • Hwang Woo-seul-hye as Whistle Girl
  • Mercedes Cabral as Evelyn, Young-du's Filipino girlfriend.


"This film was originally called The Bat to convey a sense of horror—after all, it is about vampires. But it is also more than that. It is about passion and a love triangle. I feel that it is unique because it is not just a thriller, and not merely a horror film, but an illicit love story as well."

– writer-director Park Chan-wook on Thirst.[7]

Thirst had been in the works for a number of years prior to the film's shooting and release. As early as Joint Security Area, director Park Chan-wook had asked Song Kang-ho to star in a vampire film Park was developing.[8] Park further developed the film's story with co-writer Chung Seo-kyung while the two collaborated on Lady Vengeance and I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK.[8]

Once greenlit, Thirst became the first Korean feature made with both Korean and U.S. studio funding and distribution, with CJ Entertainment and Focus Features partnering on the film's production.[8] The film is also the first mainstream Korean film to feature full-frontal adult male nudity.[9]


Thirst received generally favorable reviews from critics on its original release; review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports an approval rating of 81% based on reviews from 114 critics, with an average rating of 6.83/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "The stylish Thirst packs plenty of bloody thrills to satisfy fans of both vampire films and director Chan Wook Park."[10] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 73 based on 21 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[11]

Prominent film critic Roger Ebert awarded Thirst three out of a possible four stars, citing that the director was "today's most successful director of horror films."[12] IGN's Joe Utichi awarded the film three-and-a-half out of five stars and said "Thirst may not be the greatest vampire movie ever made, but Park's willingness to try something different makes it a decidedly fresh take on the genre."[13]

Box office

On 3 May, Thirst debuted at #1 at the South Korean Box office and grossed 1,174,224,500 the first day and 4,369,977,022 for that three-day weekend.[14][15] More than 2,223,429 tickets were sold nationwide becoming the 9th most attended film of 2009.[16]

Awards and nominations

Awards and nominations of Thirst
Award ceremony Year Category Nominee / Work Result Ref.
Cannes Film Festival[17] 2009 Jury Prize Thirst Won [17]
Palme d'Or Thirst Nominated
Chunsa Film Art Awards 2009 Best Director Park Chan-wook Won
Best Actor Song Kang-ho Won
Best Supporting Actress Kim Hae-sook Won
Best Lighting Park Hyun-won Won
Grand Bell Awards 2009 Best Lighting Park Hyun-won Won
Best Supporting Actress Kim Hae-sook Nominated
Blue Dragon Film Awards 2009 Best Supporting Actress Kim Hae-sook Won
Best Music Jo Yeong-wook Won
Best Film Thirst Nominated
Best Director Park Chan-wook Nominated
Best Actor Song Kang-ho Nominated
Best Actress Kim Ok-bin Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Shin Ha-kyun Nominated
Best Cinematography Chung Chung-hoon Nominated
Best Art Direction Ryu Seong-hui Nominated
Best Lighting Park Hyun-won Nominated
Director's Cut Awards 2009 Best Director Park Chan-wook Won
Best Actor Song Kang-ho Won
Asian Film Awards 2010 Best Visual Effects Lee Seon-hyeong Won
Best Actor Song Kang-ho Nominated
Best Cinematography Chung Chung-hoon Nominated
Baeksang Arts Awards 2010 Best Film Thirst Nominated
Best Actress Kim Ok-bin Nominated

Home media

Universal Studios Home Entertainment released a region 1 DVD of Thirst on 17 November 2009.[18] No extras are included, but the film was produced in anamorphic widescreen with Korean DD5.1 Surround audio and subtitles in English, English SDH, French and Spanish. The director's cut, running 148 minutes, has been so far released in Korea only, on DVD and Blu-ray Disc.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Thirst (2009)". AFI Feature Film Catalog. Retrieved 15 December 2023.
  2. ^ Sunhee, Han (4 May 2009). "Koreans drink Thirst at box office". Variety. Retrieved 15 December 2023.
  3. ^ "THIRST (18)". British Board of Film Classification. 13 August 2009. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
  4. ^ Thirst tops Korean box office over holiday weekend Archived 21 September 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Screen Daily, 2009/05/05. Retrieved 26 September 2009.
  5. ^ "THIRST (BAK-JWI, 2009)—Interview with Park Chan-wook". Twitch. Archived from the original on 29 July 2009. Retrieved 22 August 2009.
  6. ^ "Bloody Disgusting Horror – "Thirst (Kr)" Movie Info". Bloody Disgusting. Archived from the original on 25 March 2009. Retrieved 19 August 2009.
  7. ^ a b "Thirst" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 19 August 2009.
  8. ^ a b c "Thirst Production Notes". Focus Features. Focus Features. 28 July 2009. Archived from the original on 28 July 2021. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  9. ^ Carpenter, Cassie. "Quenching His 'Thirst' Archived 4 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine". Backstage, 3 August 2009. Retrieved on 26 September 2009.
  10. ^ "Bakjwi (Thirst) (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 14 June 2021. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  11. ^ "Thirst Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 13 October 2023. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  12. ^ Ebert, Roger (13 August 2009). "Thirst". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 2 October 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2009.
  13. ^ Utichi, Joe (15 May 2009). "Cannes 09: Thirst Review". IGN UK. Archived from the original on 21 May 2009. Retrieved 18 August 2009.
  14. ^ "South Korean Box Office Weekends for 2009". Archived from the original on 22 March 2016. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  15. ^ "South Korean Box Office Weekends for 2009". Archived from the original on 24 March 2016. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  16. ^ "Korean Movie Reviews for 2009". Archived from the original on 4 July 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
  17. ^ a b "Thirst". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
  18. ^ THIRST Comes to DVD 17 November Archived 24 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Horror Movies, 2009/09/21. Retrieved 25 September 2009.

External links

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