Some amazing images in the first hour of Park Chan-wook's film promise the equal of his Old Boy— such as when a priest bandaged like the Invisible Man descends a flight of stairs to a throng of worshippers. The premise also is a grabber: this priest, Sang-hyun (Song Kang-ho), has volunteered to be a guinea pig to cure an AIDS-like virus that victimizes male virgins (i.e., a lot of other priests).
Something goes wrong and Sang-hyun turns into a vampire who must struggle against his thirst for blood — and other carnal temptations. But then things get messy, not just with blood and pustules and noisy slurping but also with the storyline.
Sang-hyun moves in with the family of a simple-minded friend and gets entangled with the guy's wife (Kim Hae-sook), and for a while the film evokes Near Dark by way of In theRealm of the Senses. Then there's the off-the-wall Christian symbolism. Thirst's moments of brilliance leave you hungry for more.