Train to Busan (2016)
Director: Yeon Sang-ho
Casts: Gong Yoo, Jung Yu-mi, Ma Dong-seok, Kim Soo-ahn, Kim Eui-sung, Choi Woo-sik, Ahn So-hee, Jang Hyuk-jin and Shim Eun-kyung
Genre: Action & Suspense Thriller
Running Time: 118 minutes
Seok-woo (Gong Yoo) works as a fund manager in Seoul. He is divorced and lives together with his only daughter, Soo-an (Kim Soo-ahn). Due to his work, he didn’t spend a lot of quality time with his daughter and show less affection to her. For her birthday, she asks her father that she wants to see her mother. After persuading him, he has no choice but to take her to Busan. The next early morning, they take the KTX to Busan from Seoul Station. When the train is about to leave, a zombie like lady jump onto to her train. She is infected by the virus that causes a huge catastrophe in making infected victims to become zombies. Seok-woo, Soo-ahn and the rest of the KTX passengers have to run for their lives till they reach Busan’s safe point.
Train to Busan is Yeon’s first live feature film after animation films Seoul Station and King of Pigs which received good reviews by film critics. The film takes you on a rollercoaster ride, from start to finish. It starts off with the truck driver knocked down a deer that later comes back alive as a zombie which marks the start of zombie apocalypse. From time to time, you will be in shocked while you catch your breath as the zombies roam around in the KTX and few stations before it reaches to Busan. At most times, I was hugging my legs and placing my hands beside my ears as I kept my eyes wide opened. Yeon takes the initiative in choreographing how the zombies show up and terrify (and bite) the passengers (and audiences, too). The bone breaking, horrifying zombie makeup and groaning sounds make you feel intense and shocked. While some zombie scenes are quite predictable, there are a few surprising scenes, such as a zombie shows up out of no where, make your heart beat crazily. Going through each scene, Yeon ensures that audiences are given enough time to breath before moving on to the next crazy ride.
However, the storyline doesn’t have much depth and lack of consistency. At the first half of storyline, the ride is adventurous and crazy. Passengers are running for their lives. Victims are bitten by the zombies and they become one. Zombies are breaking the doors and windows so they could bite the passengers. As the craze goes on, Seok-woo is fighting to survive and protecting his daughter. On the other hand, Sung-gyeong (Jung Yu-mi), Sang-hwa (Ma Dong-seok) and the rest are also on the same situation. The interesting scenes are how Seok-woo, Sang-hwa and Young-gook (Choi Woo-sik) fight against the zombies in each carriage and then the remaining survivors follow till they reach the end of the train. Yeon puts into detail on how a person will encounter zombies like the survivors passed through when the zombies can’t see them in the dark. You will feel nervous and excited at the same time as the survivors go through each level. To me, it is like watching a football match.
Later, the second part of storyline starts to get weaker which is right after the passengers ask Seok-woo and his team to go to the next carriage because they believe that they are infected. From that point, I started to lose interest with the rest of the storyline. Melodramatic scenes can be seen in the film but very predictable. The film also has a couple of scenes that don’t make sense. How is it possible for Sung-gyeong, who is pregnant, is able to run for her life and catching her breath despite all the shocking zombie fiasco? In reality, a pregnant lady can’t move fast and most probably not being able to move with the concern of the baby in her stomach. Another scene is the zombies piling up at an open space along the railway tracks. I could understand when the zombies break the windows’ by the bridge and a whole lot of them fell off from there or even squeeze through the carriages after breaking the trains’ doors. However, the zombies piling up together at an open space doesn’t make sense at all. A zombie grabs onto the train followed by the rest of them grabbing it till the train is dragging a lot of them across the rails. I was shaking my head with disappointment while watching these unrealistic scenes.
Majority of the casts did well but others could have done better. Gong Yoo manages complex role appropriately in various scenes especially when he is sentimental in playing the fatherly role. He is able to balance both fear and brave expression as he encounters the zombies. I am impressed with Ma Dong-seok’s funny and mellow personality along with his fighting tactics. Both fighting scenes and heartfelt scene with his wife will linger in your mind. He is one of the actors whom I truly look up to. For Jung Yu-mi, beside part of the script which she has to ridiculously run away from the zombies, she conveys both facial and emotional expressions amazingly well through steady actions and conversations with other casts. Despite the zombie fiasco, she keeps telling herself to calm down and trying her upmost best to support others especially given more caring towards Soo-an.
Kim So-ahn’s portrayal on S00-an is splendid. I was worried and cried at times whenever Soo-an is in danger. Towards the ending, I cried so badly as she cried and sing her favorite song to her father. Kim Eui-sung done amazingly well in being a self-centered leader who only thinks of himself but others. That made me angry whenever he pushes a few passengers to the zombies. Both Choi Woo-sik and Ahn So-hee could have done better even though they only appear at a few scenes. It didn’t show a certain level of uniqueness that you might not recall for a while after watching the film.
Overall, Train to Busan keeps you on the edge of your seat with plenty of action, suspense and thrills. Shocking zombie scenes, including unexpected ones, will leave you in total shock. Zombie’s choreography, costume and makeup are splendidly done well in detail. Yet, there is a lack of depth and consistency in the storyline. The storyline could have been be done better and not include unrealistic and predictable scenes. If you are into action and suspense, definitely Train to Busan is a ‘must-see’ zombie apocalypse film. Gong Yoo recently announced through his Twitter that there will be a sequel to Train to Busan. Hopefully, the sequel would be even better and the ride will be even crazier as Train to Busan.