All Aboard the Train to Busan (Busanhaeng)!
Straight out of South Korea, Train to Busan is a stunning, realistic take on a zombie apocalypse. Basing itself on a train infested with zombies, corrupt powerful people, an overwhelming sense of desperation and fear, and excellently portrayed characters, there is a ton in this film for every and anyone to love. Make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below!
One of the many things Train to Busan does right, is the character portrayals
The central character of the film, Seok-woo, is perfectly portrayed by Yoo Gong. Seok-woo’s character development is a rollercoaster the entire film, in the beginning he is an extremely detached business man, whose main priority in life is his job. Throughout the journey, he becomes more attached to his daughter and someone who becomes a hero in the viewers eyes.
Seok-woo’s daughter, Soo-an played by Su-an Kim, has one of the most critical roles in this film. Being a kid during an apocalypse couldn’t be harder to portray and Su-an Kim does a phenomenal job! Whether its pulling at your heart-strings for her father’s attention or building suspense in a couple of intense scenes (not giving any spoilers.)
Dong-seok Ma’s portrayal of a self-less fighter is a huge hit later on in the film. Towards the beginning of the film Seok-woo and him have a few run ins and disagreements. During these he is also used for comedy relief, which didn’t really sit well with me, so I’m glad that this didn’t last long in the film.
Another actor of note is Eui-sung Kim, who was totally hateful in his role as the selfish Yong-suk. He is essentially the “bad guy” of the film and accurately portrays his character up until the bitter end.
A Simplistic, Yet Effective Story
The central character is Seok-woo, a man who is completely stressed out with his recent divorce and troubles at work. His 9-year old daughter Su-an, requests her father to bring her to Busan to see her mother for her birthday, to which Seok-woo knows he can’t refuse.
As the two board the train and it begins its departure, a woman rushes onto the train. She collapses from a wound on her leg and instantly jumps up and bites a passenger. and then the non-stop bite-and-infect-fest is on for the next hour and some change. As the survivors huddle together in a train car, they realize that the whole country has become an all-you-can-eat zombie buffet and the only thing people are looking for is hope and survival.
This film was one exhilarating roller-coaster ride from beginning to end. The zombies and their attack scenes were very well-executed with a combination of practical and computer-generated effects. These monsters were very fast-moving and relentless in their quest for human flesh. We hear people around us gasp and shriek with shock as we see these zombies pile up in droves and hordes, crash out of windows and barrel through doors. We breathlessly hang on to the edge of our seats the whole ride.
Of course, what Korean film does not have a good dose of melodrama? The father-daughter dynamic between Seok-woo and Su-an is front and center. But aside from them, we also meet a cast of supporting characters on the train whose fates we will be following for the rest of the film. These include a burly man with his pregnant wife, a teenager with his girlfriend and his baseball team, a haughty businessman, two elderly sisters and a homeless man, among others. We get just enough introduction about who they are for us to care about what happens to them.
People may dismiss as “just” being a zombie film, but it look at how humans would interact with an infection like this is what makes the film entertaining and exhilarating. I couldn’t recommend this film more to an horror/zombie film fan!