2009, Movies

Bakjwi aka Thirst (2009, Chan-woo Park)

The idea of vampires being used as some kind of metaphor for sex has probably been around for as long as vampires have been in literature. It’s not a new thing. And so, initially, this film feels like yet another in the endless line of erotic vampire films.

However, the film has enough twists and turns in the usual story that it does not feel at all like a conventional vampire film.


For one thing, once the A Place in the Sun type act is committed, the film takes a darkly comic turn into more of a comedy about what happens to couples who commit murder. Park handles this in an ingenious way that I’ve never seen before and it’s fantastic. The problem is, this fantastic idea is in a vampire film. And this is where my problem lies with the movie.

There are too many ideas in this film. In fact, it’s three films. First, there’s the vampire origin story that seems pretty original compared to the ones that I’ve seen. It’s the erotic vampire film part. Then there’s the dark comedy film about committing murder and not being able to forget. Finally, there’s a third part to the film that’s basically a vampire buddy comedy drama, or something. All three of these might have succeeded on their own. I’m not sure they succeed as the acts of a film though.

But it’s entertaining.


  • Hangul: 박쥐, Revised Romanization: Bakjwi, McCune–Reischauer Pakchwi
  • Directed by Park Chan-wook
  • Produced by Park Chan-wook, Ahn Soo-hyun
  • Written by Park Chan-wook, Jeong Seo-kyeong, Based on Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola
  • Starring:
    • 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 unknown origin.
    • 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.
    • Park In-hwan as Priest Roh, a blind priest superior to Sang-hyun, and 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
  • Music by Jo Yeong-wook
  • Cinematography: Chung Chung-hoon
  • Edited by Kim Sang-bum, Kim Jae-bum
  • Production company: Moho Film, Focus Features Internationals
  • Distributed by Focus Features (US), CJ Entertainment (South Korea)
  • Release date: 30 April 2009
  • Running time: 134 minutes
  • Country: South Korea, United States
  • Language: Korean, English, French
  • Box office: US$13 million

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