Saturday, August 08, 2009
After his overwrought "Vengeance Trilogy" (Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Lady Vengeance), Park Chan-Wook directed I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK, a 2006 romantic comedy set in an insane asylum that has yet to be released in the US. I have no idea if it's any good, but I'm guessing it would have helped prepare the audience for Thirst, which giggles where his previous films wept, even as it wallows in bloodletting, sexual dysfunction and Catholic guilt.
A monk (Song Kang-Ho of The Host and Memories Of Murder, who has shown crazy range for a leading actor) martyrs himself for science only to be accidentally resurrected by a transfusion of vampire blood (its origin is never explained). While refusing to kill - he slurps on the IV tube of a comatose patient for sustenance - his moral code is shaken enough to let him get freaky with the downtrodded wife of a sickly perv he went to school with. The sex is good, but he can't get over his guilt and she's manipulative - issues only complicated by his condition.
The film is wearingly episodic - how could a synthesis of Scorsese at his most sniggering and DePalma at his most perverse not be? - but I love that Chan-Wook embraces the silliness of the supernatural while giving the melodrama its due. In an age of self-serious genre epics, his nasty kicks suggests awareness and vitality, his set-ups playfully masterful. It's hard to complain Chan-Wook included too many of them when you want to see what he'll do next.