While there doesn’t appear to be much else to be done with movies based on zombies, there’s plenty that can and will be altered in an attempt to keep things fresh. In situations like this, I’m always open to making the familiar feel new, especially when it’s done well like in Train to Busan. As seen in this entry into the world of the undead, what’s common can be revitalized if it comes with a host of new ideas.
Seok-Woo (Gong Yoo) decides to take his daughter (Kim Su-an) to see his ex-wife in Busan. To do that, the work obsessed fund manager boards the KTX 101 train bound for that city with the hopes of dealing with an easy ride. While it certainly starts that way, it doesn’t stay like that after what looks to be a strike at an industrial park that’s actually turns out to be a nationwide issue more sinister than previously thought. Before Seok-Woo knows it, him and his daughter are ensnared in a fight for survival along with a group of other passengers as they’re presented with what looks to be a zombie apocalypse.
Train to Busan is a movie that shares a great deal of similarities with several zombies flicks that have come before it. However, it manages to create its own spot in that world by containing different phases throughout its duration that helps in keeping things interesting. These alterations essentially showcase the various ways zombies attack and different ways the survivors attempt to avoid being turned into a member of the undead that’s running around.
While it features things that frequent the horror genre, Train to Busan isn’t really trying to be all that scary. Instead, they’re hoping that audiences will be in for a thrill ride that’s packed with some fast action. To accomplish that, they mainly rely on the humans and their desire to live in such dire circumstances. This allows it feels more like an action movie than a horror flick. That could also be because it’s shot primarily in the day time, but it could likewise be because they don’t really use to many of the usual jump scares and creepiness that you usually get with this kind of thing.
Placing a film like this on a train also proves to be intelligent in providing entertainment and setting itself apart from other movies about zombies. By doing this, you’re able to streamline everything while still allowing for the necessary versatility. Taking this approach allows the humans to get on and off the train while presenting them with new circumstances that need to be overcome. Plus, they can always find their way back on to a train and kind of use it like a fresh start.
A part of me wishes I could have seen this in a movie theater due to the scope of it all. As much as I liked it, seeing it on a large screen like that could have turned it into even more of an event. For us in America, seeing at home is the next best thing. And if you’re going to be buying the Blu-ray or DVD, you’re going to be buying it for the movie itself. While there are some extras like behind the scenes footage and a couple of brief interviews, the movie is what makes getting yourself a copy worthwhile.
In the end, Train to Busan turns out to be a thoroughly enjoyable zombie flick that mixes the familiar with a few new features. While it won’t frighten you much, it does have enough action to make its almost two-hour run time deserving of your attention. Ultimately, there’s a lot in here that will leave you satisfied, and that’s a key factor in creating something that’s memorable even if what’s seen is sometimes what you’ve experienced before.
Director: Yeon Sang-ho
Film Length: 117 minutes
Distributor: Well Go USA (America)
Country: South Korea
- Score - 7/107/10