RELEASED: 28th October 2016
DIRECTOR: Sang-ho Yeon
CAST: Gong Yoo, Ma Dong-seok, Jung Yu-mi, Kim Su-an, Kim Eui-sung, Choi Woo-shik, Ahn So-hee, Choi Gwi-hwa, Jung Suk-yong, Ye Soo-jung, Park Myung-sin, Jang Hyuk-jin, Kim Chang-hwan and Shim Eun-kyung
BOX OFFICE WORLDWIDE: $87.5m
Train To Busan has us follow Seok-Woo, a divorced fund manager who begrudgingly accepts to take his young daughter Su-an to her mother in Busan as her birthday gift. They arrive at a station in Seoul to board the KTX, a High-Speed rail, which is also occupied by working-class husband Sang-hwa and his pregnant wife Seong-kyeong, a high school baseball team, rich but selfish COO Yon-suk, elderly sisters In-gil and Jong-gil, and a homeless man. Unfortunately for them however, someone else boards the train that happens to be have been bitten and is beginning to turn, leading to a struggle of survival for those on board the train heading to Busan.
Train To Busan is a South Korean zombie film that everyone took notice of back in 2016 as it gave audiences another interesting, unique take on the zombie genre, having the majority of the film self-contained within the confinements of a high-speed train. It makes you feel as claustrophobic as the rest of the passengers, as the virus spreads and the zombies begin consuming everyone in their path. What makes Train To Busan stand out from the rest of the zombie films this decade is that not only is a number of characters that you actually care for and invest in, some of them have smarts too. In their restricted environments, there’s some clever choices here, particularly in scenes when they learn that the zombies can’t track movement in the dark without sound, and how they use that to their advantage. The film at points actually makes some commentary on class warfare, particularly highlighted by Kim Eui-sung’s Yon-suk, a rich COO, who is an narcissistic asshole who you really become infuriated with as the film progresses. While the film gives you a clear villain outside of the zombies, they give you a few characters to root for, one of them being married couple Seong-kyeong and Sang-hwa, and the other being the main character Seok-woo and his daughter Su-an. Seok-Woo’s character progression is one of the films strengths, with Gong Yoo providing a good performance in the role, while the young actress, Kim Su-an, is really good as Su-an, especially in the final act. Ma Dong-seok gives arguably the most popular performance in the film as his character is involved in some of the films most memorable moments. He’s tough, slightly silly and charismatic, he’s got a big decade ahead of him appearing in the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe film The Eternals. Yeon Sang-ho directed the hell out of this film, giving it great scale with its modest budget, and the makeup department should be applauded for their works on show here. True, it’s only a question of when this film will get an English-language remake in the 2020’s but for now…this will do nicely.
FAVOURITE SCENE: Seok-woo, Sang-hwa and Yong-guk are in Cart 9, they learn that Su-an and Seong-kyeong are in Cart 13, while Jin-hee is with the rest of the survivors are in Cart 15. With the limited resources they have, Seok-woo, Sang-hwa and Yong-guk make their way through the hordes between them and their loved ones. It’s a well setup sequence, particularly with Jang Young-gyu’s score.
FAVOURITE QUOTE: “I’ll take you to mom no matter what.” – Seok-woo
DID YOU KNOW: The actor Dong-seok Ma (the man with the pregnant wife) used to be Yoo Gong’s personal trainer.