My exploration of foreign horror movies continues with another stop in Korea.
As a zombie flick aficionado, the glowing reviews from the community and critics alike – 94% on the Tomatometer and 88% Audience Score at Rotten Tomatoes – meant I had to board the Train to Busan. And boy, I’m glad I did. This film is Director’s Yeon Sang-ho‘s third outing, although he’s worked on a number of projects as a writer and producer.
This may be one of the best zombie movies I’ve ever seen (Dawn of the Dead 1978 and 2004 notwithstanding). It was fast-paced. It was tense. It was intense. Bolstered by impressive acting courtesy of Gong Yoo, Ma Dong-seok, Jung Yu-mi and the very young and adorable Su-an Kim, there was also some humor with a lot of heart in this one. It really hit all the marks.
The film contained some of the most extraordinary zombie sequences ever committed to film. The scenes left me biting my fingers and weaving tapestries of foul language so loud and intricate that the dad in A Christmas Story would blush. Oh fuuuuuuddddgggggeeeee….
The film follows a father and daughter (Su-an Kim) on their way back to the child’s mother. The parents are divorced. A seemingly straightforward train ride goes off the rails when a biotech plant has a massive chemical leak, resulting in a rapid-spreading zombie apocalypse across Korea.
The train travels to outrace the spread. There are some phenomenal fight sequences, some insane zombie transformations. People fighting for survival, incredible train crash sequences that even Michael Bay could take some notes on, a heartless rich dude that’s willing to save his own ass no matter the cost, (I’m looking at you Billy Zane in Titanic). This movie really has it all.
I mean, look at this zombie transformation sequence:
The characters have to overcome so much in 118 minutes, (yep, it’s close to two hours long but it’s one of the shortest-feeling two hours ever) that you really develop empathy for the passengers. There is some great character development between tough guy Yoon Sang-hwa (Ma Dong-seok) and Seo Seok-woo (Gong Yoo), who initially pegs the latter as as an uptight coward. The relationship flourishes into near-brotherly love territory, and mutual respect.
Yoon Sang-hwa’s pregnant girlfriend, Seong-kyeong (Jung Yu-mi) transforms from a meek, mild woman who is largely dependent on her brutish boyfriend for protection, to a strong fierce lead.
I even cried in this movie. I CRIED IN A FUCKING ZOMBIE MOVIE. I recommend a lot of movies but this one is hands-down, 100%, cannot miss must-see zombie action. One watch cemented it in my list of all-time faves. 5 EMPHATIC knives out Five!
Train To Busan Movie Poster: https://www.wellgousa.com/films/train-to-busan