Train passengers fight a zombie baseball team. Awesome!
Train to Busan is the cocaine of zombie films.
It takes you on a ride for a few hours, and as soon as it ends, you’re left thinking, “I want more of this”.
And so, like an addict, I’m on the hunt for writer/director Yeon Sang-ho’s other films like, Seoul Station (said to be a sort of precursor to Train to Busan) The Fake, and King of Pigs. Because this man knows how to make a nerve racking, emotionally grounded, zombie dog-pile of a film.
Set in South Korea, Train to Busan features Gong Yoo (Silenced, and She’s on Duty) as Seok-Woo, a cutthroat fund manager and divorced father, who’s dropping the ball when it comes to parenting his daughter Soo-Ann (Kim Su-an). Thoughtless birthday gifts, and missed recitals, make Soo-Ann miss her mother and so Seok reluctantly agrees to take her by train to her mother’s in Busan. But unfortunately for them, an infected woman gets on the train, inevitably causing a zombie outbreak. Leaving Seok, along with badass Sand Hwa (Ma Dong-seok, The Neighbour and Unjust) and a few others, with the task of kicking some zombie ass if they’re to survive this nightmare train ride and make it to Busan.
Sounds fun, right? Well it gets better. Because rather than just revel in the wonderful fun of fighting zombies, Yeon Sang-ho skillfully sculpts in an allegory of what happens to people when corporate selfishness overrules social responsibility, by creating a ruthless businessman, who lies and betrays his fellow people, all in the name of self-preservation, and juxtaposing him with Sand Hwa, the heroic, self-sacrificing, martyr of decency.
In many ways these two characters represent the struggle Seok faces between the two parts of his personality; one, the cold hearted business man, the other, the loving father willing to do what it takes for the safety of others. And only by witnessing their actions does he begin to see the error in his ways, and invariably, starts to kill some zombies.
And did I mention that all of this is happening while they fight a zombie baseball team?
Because it is, and it’s awesome.
“But if Train to Busan is so great, what detracts from it?”
Well, if you’re a female character in this film, you’re basically relegated to being saved, freezing anytime something bad happens (run! Zombies are coming) and never fighting. Now in fairness to the film in regards to who battles zombies, the prominent female characters are a pregnant woman, a child and a senior – not exactly your first round draft pick zombie combatants – but still, they could have kicked a little ass. I think a pregnant woman doling out a few killer punches alongside a cane whacking senior and an awesome baseball throwing child would have been sick, and could have helped this film out greatly as far as gender equality.
But outside of that, the film rocks!
It’s intelligent, fun, and though simple in design, well executed and completely merits the acclaim and high rating on Rotten Tomatoes. If you’re looking for a nerve racking, tear inducing, popcorn kind of movie, be sure to check out, Train to Busan.
4.5 out of 5 Stars