It’s not every day a South Korean zombie movie hits the screen and when it does you feel you have to check it out. Train to Busan has been breaking records it’s in home country, we took a trip to see if they hype was justified.
The premise is pretty simple. Seok Woo, played by Yoo Gong (The Age of Shadows, Silenced) who was incidentally born in Busan, is a fund manager who works long hours and therefore doesn’t spend much time with his young daughter Soo-an, played by Soo-an Kim. She wants to go and see her mummy and so guilt trips daddy to taking her on the train from Seoul to Busan.
This is our ‘Shaun of the Dead’ style beginning to Train to Busan. Our protagonist doesn’t really know that the world around them is going to pot whilst it is. We also have World War Z style zombies. None of those meandering, slow, ‘brain’ wanting zombies here. We have full on, bite anything, run like the clappers, attack in hordes zombies.
Anyway, just before the train departs a woman runs on who looks a little ill. Then, well, then all hell breaks loose as the country loses its shit and so does pretty much everyone on the train. They manage to contain some of the zombies for a while, stop at a station which they’re told is safe, it isn’t, re-board the train and desperately make their way to Busan.
The daddy-daughter combo are joined by various people along the way. A man with a pregnant wife, Dong-seok Ma (The Good the Bad and the Weird, One on One) and Yu-mi Jeong (Silenced, In Another Country) a few others and a businessman who is pretty ruthless in his ways, played by Eui-sung Kim (Hill of Freedom, Architecture 101).
Writer and director Sang-ho Yeon is better known for his animated movies such as The King of Pigs, The Fake and Seoul Station which is pretty much the precursor to Train to Busan. Yeon has given us an accomplished live-action directorial debut here. The use of the camera and the colours are wonderful and the action scenes are well done. The writing is good too, though do yourself a massive favour and watch it in the original language with subtitles as the dubbing is awful.
The action starts early with Train to Busan and continues throughout. I don’t count zombie movies as horror so wouldn’t particularly say it’s a scary film, there’s not even that much gore relatively speaking. The CGI is great, the stunts are big and bold, nothing looks cheap here and Yeon has even given us some heart and feeling to go with all the zombies and blood and biting and things.
Placing a father, struggling to be a good father, with his daughter, who just wants to help everyone and a pregnant woman in the middle of a zombie attack is a work of genius. It’s here that all the heart is and where you find yourself rooting for them to escape.
My only gripe with Train to Busan is the main protagonist Seok Woo. He is so wet he makes the ocean look like the desert. Many a time he stands around looking like a fish out of water instead of doing something that would help. Obviously, most of the time this is done to move the story on and put our group into trouble. However, it begins to get annoying and you just want to grab hold of him and slap him about a bit, scream into his face and wake him up.
Sadly, that doesn’t happen and he continues to be heroic one minute and a guppy the next. It’s a shame as this really stops the film from being a 10 out 10 movie. It’s a small gripe but large enough that you notice and large enough that it drops a couple of points. However, it should in no way stop you going to see Train to Busan. Sang-ho Yeon should be very, very proud of the movie he has created here and I look forward to see whatever his twisted little mind comes up with next!