Blending a thrilling zombie flick, with a surprisingly emotional storyline, Train to Busan is a riveting action/horror, which any fan of the Zombie genre should definitely track down!
The plot is pretty straight forward, Seok-woo, our protagonist, is escorting his estranged young daughter, Soo-an, on board a train from Seoul to Busan. What should have been a mundane journey soon becomes a commute from hell, as an infected passenger manages to struggle on board, creating a chain reaction of death & the undead! As the viral outbreak spreads across the country, it’s a race against time to survive, and reach Busan, which has been fortified against the virus.
The claustrophobic train setting works wonders for this movie, the feeling of being trapped, with literally only one way to go, ramps up the tension. As more and more of the train slowly become infected, there is only so far our survivors can run. Combine this with rampant zombies, who are simply ravenous at the sight of any humans, creates an exhilarating cocktail.
Seeing as most of the film takes place within one setting, it’s crucial that the characters on board are worth caring for. Our hero Seok-woo slowly ditches his greedy, corporate ways, becoming the person his daughter wanted him to be. Then there’s Sang-hwa, the polar opposite of Seok-woo, caring, and light hearted, but some who can also pack a punch! His pregnant wife Seong-kyeong, also happens to be on board. Her condition alone makes you care about her survival. You also have survivors such as Yong-guk, the young student, travelling with his school baseball team, who ends up in a huge moral predicament, following the demise of his fellow friends. Any good zombie movie needs a good cast, as people will inevitably die, and it’s down to the script to create characters well enough in order for the audience to feel any emotion.
The zombies here are the raging types, similar to the kind you would have seen in 28 Days Later. They hunt in packs, and are relentless once they have seen their prey. This offers plenty of enthralling set pieces, which see a ferocious display of panic as they all swarm together at once. Although it is a zombie flick, Train to Busan is far more of an action set piece, so expect loads of combat, but not too much slow building tension or overly gory deaths,
Speaking of the combat, as the film is set in South Korea, the passengers don’t have guns, so the fighting is far more physical, from baseball bats, riot shields to the simple fists! A particular scene, featuring a trio of survivors, fighting through carriages filled with zombies to get to their loved ones, is magnificent! There really isn’t an antagonist per se, as the evil is the viral strain infecting the civilians, though we do have Yon-suk, a senior CEO figure, someone who only looks pout for themselves. He provides a good example to Seak-woo, on what he may became, if he does not change his ways.
The film also highlights how quickly people can turn on each other, when things to intense. Even when there is a train filled with the ravaging undead, people still find the time to shun each other, unwilling to accept their fate, and reverting to a selfish state. Also highlighting how easy it is for people to easily fall into a mob mentality, when it suits them.
Overall Train to Busan is a treat for anyone who has an interest in Korean cinema, or loves a good zombie flick. Though it may not be perfect, such as the inconsistencies of how our zombies work, and the plot convenient scenarios that take place, it packs one heck of a sentimental punch! Be sure to check it out!