DIRECTOR: Sang-ho Yeon
WRITER: Sang-ho Yeon
Seok-woo has a tense relationship with his young daughter, Soo-Ann. A hard-working businessman, he rarely gets to spend any time with his child. The connection between the two is strained. Jumping on a train to take his daughter from Seoul back to Busan to return her to her mother, he is unaware that South Korea has been overrun with a virus that's turned the population into blood-thirsty zombies. When one manages to board the train, he must try to protect his daughter from this widespread outbreak.
With 'zombie' cinema and television playing a massive part in today's pop culture, it's hard to find a zombie movie or television series that comes across as an original. In a world of The Walking Dead where it relies heavily on shocking fans every premier and finale episode, you'd be hard-pressed to call the show original by any means. It's a TV show that borrows heavily from other zombie movies that came before it. While I love The Walking Dead, the show hardly breaks new ground.
When I sat down to watch Train To Busan, I was coming into this movie, completely aware that this is being hailed as one of the best zombie movies ever made. Critics and pretty much every single person I have talked to about Train To Busan were in love with it. After sitting through the film, I now joined legions of zombie and horror fans in being absolutely blown away by it. Easily the best zombie movie I've seen in recent years. A non-stop thrill ride.
Train To Busan doesn't take long in getting to the zombie action. The movie kicks into high gear at around the ten-minute mark and never lets up until the credits begin to roll. Moving from set piece to set piece, the movie is so fast-paced that clocking in at close to two hours, I was never once bored. It never felt like a movie that overstayed it's welcome. This was able to fit so much carnage into every single frame that once it had me, It never let me go. To call this boring would be a lie.
The movie spends a vast majority of its running time on a high-speed train. Every bit of zombie action is heightened and more intense due to the carnage being set within the confines of train carriages. Also, e have the danger of the train always moving, so you are unable to simply get off. Any director that can continue to build tension that reaches breaking point over and over again inside a train deserves all the awards. The movie contains some of the most intense zombie action since the Dawn Of The Dead remake and 28 Days Later.
When the movie decides to leave the confined spaces of the carriages and onto the platforms of the various stops that the train has to make, these scenes lend the film some of the scariest and most frantic moments in Train To Busan. The station being overrun with hordes of zombies that come crashing through doors and windows is up there with the first chase scene in 28 Days Later. This movie really never slows down long enough for the audience to catch their breaths.
When it comes to the performances and acting, this is a collaborative effort. The film has its main protagonist, but every actor in the movie is brilliant. The standout is Ma Dong-Seok who is a hulking man that punches his way through hordes of flesh-eating zombies. Kim Ui-Seong also gives one of the most blood-boiling performances I think I've ever seen in a movie. I wanted to see him die. He did his job playing the selfish businessman. Every single actor is on point in this film.
Visually, Train To Busan is stunning to witness. I think when it comes to all the visual effects, the movie is excellent. There are a couple of scenes where you can clearly see the need for CGI. You can tell they've used it heavily in some scenes, but I loved the huge shots of devastated cities, the action sequences are expertly choreographed and filmed. The bullet train speeding across the many South Korean landscapes just looks utterly sublime.
Lastly, the reason Train To Busan doesn't get a perfect score from me is that the film sort of loses itself for a few minutes before the end. We have a moment that seems like it was put in to have the character wrong all of their rights and play heroically. I just didn't like it at all. It also ends the movie on a sour note but had it ended without that scene and had that person live another day, I think the film would've lost none of the impact by ending the movie on such a positive note.
DEATH TOLL: 55 (Estimated)
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A deer is hit by a truck.
- Lots of infected zombie bites.
- People's throats are ripped out.
- A man's hand is bitten.
- Many people are attacked by zombies.
- Bodies are dropped from a helicopter.
- Zombies fall from a platform window and break bones.
- Zombies necks are broken.
- Zombies heads are bashed in with baseball bats.
- People are thrown around a train carriage.
- A zombie is hit by a train sign.
Train To Busan is one of the best zombie movies that I've ever had the pleasure of sitting through. The movie is action-packed, insanely intense for most of its running time, all the performances are great, and the movie has enough bloodshed to keep zombie and horror fans happy. While the movie has its problems, a bit of a let down towards the end, it's not enough to kill what is close to two hours of perfect, high-speed, zombie mayhem.