Train to Busan review: Tired of zombies? Then you might miss your train to one of the best the genre has ever offered.
Train To Busan review, Luke Ryan Baldock.
We should be bored of Zombie movies, but we’re not. There’s something so simple and relatable when it comes to the shuffling (or these days running) corpses that speaks to our own idea of self preservation. We all have opinions on how we would react, what we would do, and how our moral compass would guide us. There are also those zombie films that just shove zombies into a new location, which allows us to arrive at this zombies on a train flick, Train to Busan. High concept it may be, but Train to Busan is more than just a simple idea, it is an incredibly well crafted action horror, where every scene has been constructed to maximum effect.
Gong Yoo plays Seok Woo, a dedicated business man currently going through a divorce. It being his daughter Soo An’s (Kim Soo Ahn) birthday, her wish is to go to her mother’s. He decides to take her on the train, but just as they board, unbeknownst to them, a zombie virus is spreading through Seoul and one of the infected makes their way onto the train. With a plethora of potential victims on the train, such as a school baseball team (bats at the ready), elderly siblings, train staff, and an expectant couple, the train travels towards Busan, a supposed safe haven, as carriages begin to become infested.
Yeong Sang Ho’s live action debut (don’t worry, he’s also made an animated sidequel detailing the events happening in Seoul) is a terrific departure from his brooding and confrontational animated dramas, while still holding all the social commentary and suspense you’d come to expect. What really impresses is his execution of every scene. Every locale (the train makes a few stops) and character is utilised in a mesmerising fashion, resulting in pitch perfect sequences of heart pounding action and adrenaline fuelled panic.
Also thrown in are new additions to the zombie mythos, with these particular undead being of the running variety which makes for great chase sequences and still allows them to be restricted on a claustrophobic train. To counteract this, these zombies are entirely sight based, so when that train enters a tunnel you can expect some very scary and white knuckle moments. The film also avoids a lot of cliches, and gives us thoughtful characters that are also smart. Upon discovering the zombies reliance on movement, one passenger has an instant smart plan.
It’s been a long time since I loved every second of an action film, with each moment raising the ante and making you feel genuine pressure, but with a lovable rogue of zombie food, you become instantly hooked. The themes of self survival versus teamwork are also interwoven into the relationship between Seok Woo and his daughter, as he tries to protect her but her morals show the woman she will grow to be.
Train to Busan is that rare cinematic treat where every single sequence has been composed for maximum effect. Incredible action with unforgettable moments, is punctuated with comedy and impactful drama. Train to Busan reminds us how action films should be. Unless you’re a zombie yourself, you’ll love every second of this perfectly crafted action horror that speeds past like a runaway train. One of the best films of the year.
Train to Busan review by Luke Ryan Baldock, October 2016.
Train to Busan is released on 28th October.