Movie Review: Train to Busan
Directed by: Yeon Sang-ho
Writing Credits: Yeon Sang-ho
Gong Yoo as Seok Woo
Ma Dong-Seok as Sang Hwa
Jung Yoo-mi as Sung Gyeong
Choi Woo-Shik as Yeong Gook
Ahn So-Hee as Jin Hee
Kim Soo-Ahn as Soo Ahn
Genre: Action, Thriller, Horror
Cinematographer: Hyung-deok Lee
Editor: Jinmo Yang
Composer: Young-gyu Jang
Runtime: 118 min, Rating: R
A purest zombie entertaining film for the decade. Delivering a unique plot by Yeon Sang-ho – makes kindness to others seems more significant than ever. “Train to Busan”, stipulates the essentiality of how important it is, and no matter at whatever situation we are, we should look after each other at the darkest days in our lives and those who climb over the weak to save themselves will suffer to the utmost. All sociality aside it’s a beautiful father-daughter bond relationship movie constructed with action and horror. All the above, one question stands – what is that which makes us humans in the front.
Seok-woo(Gong Yoo) is a divorced workaholic. He lives with his mother and barely spends any time with his daughter Su-an (Kim Su-an). He’s so distant from her that he buys her a Nintendo Wii for her birthday, ignoring that she has one already and that he’s the one who bought it for her for Children’s Day. To make up for this rather-awkward moment, he agrees to give Su-an what she really wants—a trip to her mother’s home in Busan, 280 miles away. It’s just an hour train ride from Seoul. What could possibly go wrong? Even the set-up is a thematic beauty, as this is more than just a train ride for Seok-woo and Su-an—it’s a journey into the past as a father tries to mend bridges and fix that which may be dead. It’s a perfect setting for a zombie movie.
Before they even get to their early-morning train ride, Seok-woo and Su-an see a convoy of emergency vehicles headed into Seoul. When they get to the train, Sang-ho beautifully sets up his cast of characters, giving us beats with the conductors, a pair of elderly sisters, a husband and his pregnant wife, an obnoxious businessman (a vision of Seok-woo in a couple of decades), and even a baseball team. A woman who’s clearly not well gets on the train just before it departs, and just as something else disturbing but generally unseen is happening in the station above the platform. Before you know it, the woman is taking out the jugular of a conductor, who immediately becomes a similarly mindless killing machine. These are zombies of the “28 Days Later” variety—fast, focused, and violent. They replicate like a virus, turning whole cars of the train into dead-eyed flesh-eaters in a matter of seconds. They are rabid dogs. And you thought your Metra commute was bad.
The claustrophobic tension of “Train to Busan” is amplified after a brilliantly staged sequence in a train station in which our surviving travelers learn that the entire country has gone brain-hungry. They discover that the undead can’t quite figure out door handles and are mostly blind, so tunnels and lines of sight become essential. Sang-ho also keeps up his social commentary, giving us characters who want to do anything to survive, and others who will do what it takes to save others. Early in the film, Seok-woo tells his daughter, “At a time like this, only watch out for yourself,” but he learns that this isn’t the advice we should live by or pass down to our children. Without spoiling anything, the survivors of “Train to Busan” are only so lucky because of the sacrifice of others. And the film is thematically stronger than your average zombie flick in the way it captures how panic can make monsters of us all, and it is our responsibility to overcome that base instinct in times of crisis.
After the near-perfect first hour of “Train to Busan,” the film slows its progress and makes a few stops that feel repetitive, but the journey recovers nicely for a memorable finale. Better call it “A Snowpiercer with zombies:”. Worth a watch if you are badly stuck with the never-ending fictional scripts!