Train To Busan (Busanhaeng)
Directed by: Sang-ho Yeon
Starring: Yoo Gong, Dong-seok Ma, Soo-an Kim
I grew up in the generation of zombies. My contemporaries are so obsessed with the undead that they kept on producing movies, TV shows, and novels about it. The plot stays virtually the same yet people are still entertained by it. I enjoyed a few and noticed the evolution of the zombies. They used to be dumb and slow but now they run faster than Usain Bolt. I guess they should qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics and maybe... just maybe, they might win medals made of human flesh.
A few months ago, I came across with this movie's trailer on Facebook. I never thought that the Korean movie industry is willing to invest in this kind of genre. But what made this movie stand out from the rest of the zombie flicks?
As a self-confessed zombie geek, almost all movies, TV shows, and books suggest that the zombie apocalypse is a product of a freak bioengineering accident. In the Resident Evil series, the virus came from a top-secret biochemical company. However in the novel of World War Z, the cause of it was clearly unknown as the author vaguely points the source to a patient from China aptly named as 'Patient Zero'. Regardless of the source, there's one plot and that is the struggle to survive. It's just a matter of how you execute the survival.
Train to Busan slightly deviates from the norm. The story starts with a workaholic father (Yoo Gong) and his estranged daughter. The only thing that her daughter wants for her birthday is to travel to Busan, where her mother lives. Sounds like a typical Korean plot to me, yes? As the movie progresses, you get to know more characters which are typically found in a Korean series - hajima (old aunts), high school students reminiscent to Sassy Girl or My Little Bride, a rich yet selfish businessman, and the funny one.
The character development seems impressive, most especially the father and the daughter. At the beginning of the flick, Yoo Gong's character deserves a "Worst Dad of the Year" award but towards the end, the tables have turned. The zombies are actually an allegory to what is happening to our world today. The quintessential hardworking father is often judged by the society yet they didn't know he's doing it for his family. It also portrays the struggles of different classes and the corporate greed who doesn't think of the welfare of the masses.
The concept of being chased by the undead inside a train is fresh. All throughout the movie, you'll wonder how they'll escape. If I were in their place, I'd feel hopeless. Unlike any other zombie flicks, the characters do not really attack the undead unless the need arises. It's all about avoiding them at all cost most especially they are only armed with nothing but strong knuckles, and baseball bats.
Fans of KDrama and Korean movies will find similar elements in Train to Busan. Despite being a horror flick (armed with a mild gore, occasional blood spatter, and violence), there are scenes that are quite sentimental. Koreans do love flashbacks, slow-motion, and a background song played by either Yiruma or Jay Chou. The cinematography was good since some of the angles were shot perfectly, giving their viewers new perspectives.
At some point, I got frightened. The scares were timely and not out of place. The tension between the survivors and the zombies didn't die down; it was zooming at a constant speed! If you're into zombie flicks, Train to Busan is a definite win. Utterly gripping, heartbreaking, and most of all, emotional.
My personal rating? 8/10.
You should definitely watch this. That's an order!