It’s the Zombie-pocalypse & this time its our friends in Korea who are in for the crapfest delights of the season. Oh… and they’re on a train to Busan. A really really fast train with zombies on it!
Train to Busan is blockbuster filmmaking done right and a masterclass in balancing emotional storytelling with speed burst adrenaline. Throw in a message about the ugly side of class warfare (is there any other side?) and you’ve gotta ask yourself if zombies are truly scarier than human beings.
Speeding towards an uncertain fate, an estranged father (Gong Yoo) & his young daughter (Kim-Soo Ahn) quite literally walk into the dead who’ve risen to zombify everything. What they discover and whom they meet on the way is what the film is truly about. Will they battle their way out of this? Or will smart tactics be their only salvation? Director Yeon Sang-ho makes his foray into the live-action genre with aplomb after helming animated features prior to this film.
Without giving away too much about the fairly linear story, let’s just say that Train to Busan’s greatest strengths are its pacing and effective use of its actors. Everyone is given a highly discernible arc and a start to finish for their journeys as characters. Heroic, bleak, evolutionary – everyone has a chance to grow throughout the movie and it’s this very aspect of the movie that makes its feel so rooted despite its horror bearings. Will they make it? How much can they take? These are questions you are excited to see answered as the tale revels itself.
A special mention would have to go to all cast members for nailing their roles and bringing to the screen a vulnerability that makes it easy for the audience to truly invest emotionally in them.
Now let’s be clear about one thing. The Koreans love drama. Hell, I’m beginning to think they even invented it! Their unique take on subjects of intrigue and those that fully cover the underbelly of society are some of the most respected and oft imitated in the film medium.
Does Train to Busan largely re-invent the wheel then? No. But what it does beautifully is render a hi-octane story with a warm and pulsating center that anchors it emotionally as opposed to being a by the numbers gorefest revelling in jump scares and cheap practical effects.
Go watch this movie & I guarantee you’ll have a fantastic time!