Train to Busan

(Distributed by Next Entertainment World; Image Downloaded from NME April 20, 2020)
(Originally posted on on April 20, 2020)

Release Date: July 20, 2016
Runtime: 1hr 58m
Director: Yeon Sang-ho

The genre of zombie movies rarely appeals to me, however like many in cinema, I can make exception to quite a few, including Shawn of the Dead (which its writer Edgar Wright praised Train to Busan as being the best zombie movie he had seen in years) and Zombieland. The common element those two films share is comedy, which does not influence my love for Busan as it relies more on pathos, relatable characters, and never-ending action from the first few minutes to the end. 

Our main protagonist is a father (Gong Yoo) who is a fund manager, busy enough that he rarely spends it with his daughter (Kim Su-an) and has been accused of being selfish. In a time no better to prove people wrong, he finds himself frequently at the center of needing to help people when most begin setting aside their differences of class, working status, and self-importance. On trek to Busan to drop Su-an off at her mother’s home, Seok Woo realizes that Busan is the only city en-route considered safe, as the apocalypse has already taken over many cities on the way there.

Most movies take time for an infection to spread through bites, although this one takes the route of making infection nearly instantaneous depending on location of the wounds. This results in a fast-paced adventure, as zombies can easily move through the train cars, on land, and anywhere they can see human. Their only weakness is sight, which when they can’t physically see a human, their only reliance is on sound. Not necessarily a clever kryptonite, but it suffices.

Numerous characters, especially the most-likable ones, begin going out one-by-one, with one particular villain who sees his wealth as a reason he needs to survive, and pushes any human out of his way into disaster to spare his life. Trust becomes the ultimate weapon against the horde of fast-moving monsters, even as it becomes unclear by the end which ones will see Busan, just to find out if it really is safe.

The jinx are set fairly high in Train to Busan, and it might be the only zombie literature where I feel a connection to its main cast. The Walking Dead couldn’t even do that for me, and it’s been on for way longer than anyone has time for. Train to Busan in its nearly two-hour runtime is a non-stop adventure where time is of the essence, and it relies well on its characters, no matter their time on screen.

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