Thirst Blu-ray Review
PictureThe Director's Cut of Thirst comes to Blu-ray with a solid, at times clinical 1080p High Definition rendition in 2.35:1 widescreen. The detail level is excellent throughout, with simply no softness, edge enhancement, digital damage or noise present during the movie. From the close-up shots that examine the pallor and texture of the characters' faces, sometimes even highlighting the blood coursing through their veins (i.e. vampire-vision). The colour scheme is largely dependent on locale: from the wood-based candle-lit church to the dilapidated apartment, to the white-walled flat drenched in neon-light. But it always looks impressive and authentic, rich crimson blood prevalent throughout. Contrast levels are excellent, blacks remaining deep and dark with no sign of crush. Grain is kept to a minimum, and the picture quality is consistently good throughout (except where, intentionally, things are changed up a bit: i.e. the handheld roof-jumping sequence). Overall it is a solid, hard-to-fault video presentation, still below the level of 3D-pop-tastic Hollywood blockbusters at their best, and not a benchmark rendition by any means, but very good nonetheless.
SoundThe accompanying Korean DTS-HD Master Audio track is as good as the video, providing a thoroughly immersive, truly dynamic mix that emboldens the material. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently, dominating the centre channel with some assistance from the fronts. Effects are cleverly observed, even exaggerated breathing echoing across the surrounds, the full range used to great effect here. We get some punchy shock moments, and plenty of slurping and sucking during the bloodletting. The score is a quirky, odd little mix, perhaps in line with the material but nonetheless quite strange: enhancing the more humorous themes within of the movie. Bass is offered up in the form of occasional, low-level rumbles - after all, this is not some big Hollywood blockbuster with buildings blowing up - and the atmospheric, engaging mix, whilst not exactly setting any new standards, is nonetheless perfectly suited to the film.
ExtrasAll of the Special Features are listed on both the Blu-ray slipcase and disc menu in original Korean, and furthermore none of them have English subtitles, so there really is little point in dipping into these extras unless you can speak Korean. As far as I can tell (in top-to-bottom menu order) we get some roundtable cast discussions, interview footage from both the art director (complete with excellent concept art) and the composer who worked on the score, footage of the promo shoot and press release, 2 theatrical trailers, a stills gallery (with narration) and a gag reel. There are also two Commentaries, one by the Director and Cast, and one by the Director and his Crew, but, again, without English subtitles these are kind of difficult for English audiences to appreciate.
Finally there is the 'Director's choice' Animated Short called Dust Kid, a ten minute black and white silent movie that is done with a similar animation style to the classic Beatles' Yellow Submarine movie. In it, basically a woman in an apartment discovers a miniature girl in her own bed. Despite trying all manner of passive forms of discarding her (throwing her in the bin, flushing her down the toilet) she cannot get rid of the strange girl, who looks like a matchbox-size version of herself. This is the only extra that can really be watched without subtitles because it has no dialogue, merely a classically-styled score set to it. Interesting and enjoyable, although far from enough to make up for the lack of functional extras on offer here.
VerdictThirst certainly does give us a different take on the genre, eschewing the typical trappings of vampire lore, and presenting us with a dark and devious world that is almost as refreshingly bleak as in the superior Let the Right One In. Unfortunately it also runs out of steam - particularly on this slightly inferior Director's Cut - and suffers from a complete absence of relatable characters. Still, Park Chan Wook devotees will still no doubt lap it up, and it certainly paints a rather unique portrait of vampirism. On the Korean Region Free Blu-ray release we get solid video and audio and a bunch of extras that - but for one interesting animated (and silent) short - unfortunately lack English subtitles. Fans will be advised to upgrade to the Director's Cut because, frankly, if you really loved the theatrical version, you will probably enjoy the longer version even more. Unfortunately, for newcomers, the protracted length of the Director's edition is not an advisable entry-point for the film. You'd be better off renting the theatrical cut to find out whether or not you actually like it.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £27.89
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