Thirst: after a failed experiment a priest develops an urge to drink human blood, it doesn’t help that the world thinks he’s blessed by god, and he’s falling in love. For most of the runtime the film never really ups gear, remaining slow and intense from start to finish – the setup in particular takes time to get going. Adding to the mood are some morbid undertones (suicidal priest, very awkward sex scene etc). The final act feels like a jumbled-up mess, with lots of sudden developments and a lot to tie up, although the last scenes do save the movie. Much like OldBoy, JSA, I’m a Cyborg, and Sympathy for Mr vengeance, Park Chan Wook’s streak of offbeat, oddball and very, very black humour crops up to provide some guilty laughs. Leading man Song Kang-ho is superb to watch as his character wrestles between his moral/religious background and new-found vampire urges. The scariest part of the film is how technically proficient and well-directed it is, no matter how dingy or clinical the settings are, they’re immaculately planned, framed to perfection, and the camera movement is immense… this guy is, without a doubt, one of the best directors in the world. Whilst Thirst is a fresh, poetic, and ultra-stylish take on the crammed vampire genre, its own silver bullet is the slow pacing and lack of drama for the most part. It’s not a bad film, by any stretch, but will probably appeal most to goths and fans of vampires / blood / self-harming / sex.
I’m A Cyborg: offbeat buddy movie set in an asylum as two very, very memorable characters form an unlikely friendship. There’s an absolutely insane first part, with a ton of story unfolding, busy shots, hectic scenes, crazy and colourful sets; it all pumps you up and gets you excited. The leading lady absolutely steals the show with her portrayal of a girl who genuinely believes she’s a robot – and can talk to electrical appliances – however the main male (Rain, who hulked up for Ninja Assassin!!WTF!!) and Chan-wook behind the camera are both continually vying for your attention. Most of the script, puns and jokes translate in to English very well, which is uncommon and is a welcome kick in the teeth to the Asian symbolism and culture that doesn’t always export. The only real downer is that whereas the first 70 minutes absolutely fly by, the final 30 feel quite sluggish in comparison as the pace is deliberately throttled… there’s still some great scenes, but it definitely peaks too soon. It’s a great concept, crammed with yet more exciting filmmaking from Park Chan Wook, Almost like a quirkier modern day cuckoos nest, with robots and masks – and I’ll definitely be re-watching it again soon.
Oldboy: After being imprisoned for 15 years with no explanation, one man has to search through all his skeletons and figure out who he offended. I can sum this up in one word: exceptional. And everything about this film is exceptional. Choi Min-sik and Yoo Ji-tae give career-defining performances. The editing throughout is top rate and there’s some fantastically dark comedy. The finale is one of the biggest cluster-and-head-fucks I’ve ever seen and despite around 10 viewings it still turns my stomach. The score is astounding, particularly how it complements the climax. That single-take fight scene in the corridor is stunning and there’s even some unique, but Improper, use of CDs, claw hammers & a toothbrush! An utterly remarkable and 150% un-remakable story (so relieved to hear that the hollywood re-make has been axed). The taboo material will be too much for some but otherwise this is flawless. This is still my favourite, and one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.