The world of motion picture and entertainment has produced enough zombie flicks to last one a lifetime. Some may even consider it cliche now, shrugging off the idea of seeing another film about the undead tearing civilization apart, wiping out mankind, with a lucky few left alive to perpetuate the human race. Same old… same old. However, the ear-splitting screams of some hundred people in a packed cinema on a late Thursday night proved that a lot of moviegoers are not quite done yet with the thrills and scares that zombie films have to offer. The movie playing: “Train To Busan” (“부산행”).
Following a bunch of passengers trapped in a speeding KTX train in the midst of a zombie outbreak in South Korea, “Train To Busan” is a heart-thumping, edge-of-your seat action-thriller that doesn’t lose steam and hits no brakes.
Among the travelers aboard the doomed train is Seok-woo (Gong Yoo), an overworked fund manager going through a divorce, who’s taking his estranged young daughter Su-an (Kim Su An) to see her mother on her birthday. They are joined by Sang Hwa (Ma Dong Seok) with his pregnant wife (Jung Yu-mi), and teenage students Young-guk (Choi Woo-Shik) and Jin-hee (Ahn So-hee). Together, they take the ultimate test of survival as an aggressive virus spreads rapidly across the country.
The Yeon Sang Ho-directed movie caused quite a stir earlier this year when it premiered at the Cannes film festival, where it received much critical acclaim. It eventually made history in Korea as one of the country’s highest grossing films to date, minting an astounding $90 million in a single day. It also swept the international movie market, even topping Singapore’s box office, smashing the record of 2007 rom-com “200 Pounds Beauty” as the best performing Korean film locally.
Now it would be easy to say that the overwhelming reception it enjoys relied heavily on buzz, and perhaps, that’s right, but boy does it live up to the hype it set – a feat that a handful of expected blockbuster hits these days fail to achieve. It shouldn’t be a surprise if this zombie film sends the Filipino audience to a craze over the numbered days it will be screened in select local theaters.
The story, albeit its banality, is a welcome addition to the roster of few good zombie flicks the world has seen. It poses its own questions of morality, standing as another testament that the real horror during a time of distress lies in the selfish ways of humans when compassion is needed most. Moreover, its straightforward plot is given depth by dynamic characters impeccably played by a top-billed cast, who make the film a lot more memorable.
Gong Yoo’s cold and callous Seok-woo is someone you’d love to hate, though you can’t help but feel for the man as he reveals a softer side to him as the story progressed. A true delight to watch, veteran actor Ma Dong Seok breaks the adrenaline-charged film with humor, while packing a punch in every scene he’s in. Expect child actress Kim Su-an to tug at your heartstrings. The kid is a natural, expressing raw and haunting emotions with her eyes alone.
It must be said, however, that this film spared its viewers a lot of gore. The zombies are hideous, with bodies that contort in the most painful ways imaginable. The film will make your heart skip a beat, shriek at the top of your lungs even. But in the end, it just isn’t that scary. Nevertheless, what it lacks in the fear department, it makes up for in the action and thrill that it effectively delivers throughout its 118-minute running time.
Train to Busan is a rollicking and terrifying zombie movie that succeeds in striking a chord. There will be laughs, there will be tears, and most definitely, there will be screams. Watching it is indeed an experience in its own. Really now, do yourself a favor and catch it while you still can.
It’s going to be a bumpy ride you won’t soon forget.
Written by Krew Writer Andy Flores