By Emanuel Ortiz
Train to Busan is a refreshing take in the oh-so-crowded zombie genre due to its well-casted group of survivors and the creative decision of setting this film in a train.
Train to Busan is a foreign film made in South Korea that shows the experience of a selfish father named Seok Woo (Yoo Gong) and his estranged daughter Soo-an (Soo-an Kim) along with a group of train passengers during a zombie outbreak. The two are taking a train from Seoul to Busan so that Soo-an can visit her mother who no longer lives with them. This movie is more about the characters and the situation they face as opposed to the story, because the story is rather straightforward. Thankfully, these characters are all well-developed. There are some that you will hate and many more you will care deeply about, and when one of them dies, it will hit you hard. The movie did an incredible job of making this situation feel realistic. Characters make decisions that you yourself might not do, but can understand why they decide to do them anyways. These decisions build their characters to the point that you really care about them. There are many others on the train as well that were really well-developed but it would be too large of a list to include.
I thought the acting was decent to great. There were a few moments that I thought the acting seemed a little over the top or just too downplayed. I counted a few times where some characters were making some strange faces that seemed forced. There was a medium ground that a movie like this called for and I think these actors hit the mark for a majority of it.
One of the best aspects of this movie was the decision to have these characters on a train for a majority of it. I hadn’t seen that perspective before and thought it was really great to see these characters navigate from one car to another while there were zombies on board. There was a “mission” of sorts that required a group of characters to meet up with another group and I was completely riveted the entire time watching it. I won’t spoil any other obstacles these characters run into, but I have to address the zombies themselves. These zombies are really terrifying. The way a human transforms into a zombie was so sickening to watch, but at the same time so satisfying. The way they move is what really shows them losing their control of their body. If you compare this to something like The Walking Dead, which I enjoy quite a bit, Train to Busan does the zombies a lot better. In The Walking Dead, the transition from human to zombie is so peaceful because the human has to die first. This isn’t the case in this film. Humans can turn while alive which made it more frightening.
Train to Busan is a rare movie that takes an already crowded genre and adds a new flavor to it. The characters were superb, the acting was good and the setting was a wonderful idea. There were a few issues with the acting along with a forced plot point where they attempt to tie in the origin of the outbreak to the characters that I thought didn’t work. Besides that, this is quite an action packed movie that will surprisingly have you wiping a tear from your eyes because of your love for these characters. I’m counting the days for a far inferior Hollywood remake.