TRAIN TO BUSAN (2016) Review
Directed by Yeon Sang-ho
An Asian zombie movie is rare feat to mount, not that we Asians can’t keep up with Hollywood but because, generally, zombie films are difficult to produce and the audience today is hard to please, and filmmaking is still a business. But with the right material, maybe it can succeed, and Train to Busan does everything the right way.
Seok-Woo (Gong Yoo), a fund manager in Seoul, is on his way with his daughter who has a poor relationship with him. But with her daughter’s birthday request visiting her mother, Seok-Woo has no choice but to please her daughter by granting her wish. But their way to Busan isn’t the birthday celebration her daughter expected it to be, as the train they boarded also has someone becoming something that would start to make their trip hell.
The film is simple, a bit standard for a zombie film, but everything is still effective and a plus that it also added an emotional journey for the characters, that everything isn’t just a marathon of humans running for their lives, fighting against a horde of undead but also has something more to offer. Gong Yoo and the rest of the cast especially Kim Eui-Sung, who, surprisingly is a more effective antagonist than the zombies.
Train to Busan has gut-wrenching moments, not just when they are being chased by zombies but also in smartly written scenes to keep the suspense up. Yes, it is comparable with the Brad Pitt starrer World War Z and maybe also the dystopian film starring Chris Evans Snowpiercer, as the zombies move the same way as World War Z and the story’s setting is mostly in the train like Snowpiercer’s. But it can stand on its own as it has a story worth telling and was told effectively.
The story moves forward effortlessly as its characters are really going somewhere and there are just obstacles going from one point to another. The story is basic, and it’s easy to follow even with the subtitles, you wished for more but it might have gone way more than it should be. It’s good as it is, it offers the right amount of suspense, thrills, it may be less gory than some would want but the story is decent, it won’t make the audiences feel stupid and its father-and-daughter story is just perfectly presented.
Even though the film’s selling point are the soulless zombies, the film has a soul, has a heart, and you’ll ultimately realize and feel everything about its main characters in its third act. That these sacrifices are not for nothing, that you’re given the chance to make up to something you love, something that means the world to you. Train to Busan will probably surprise you, not just for its intense scenes but also for its ability to give a heartfelt ending.
4 OUT OF 5 STARS
“Train to Busan” opens September 1, 2016, Thursday in Philippine cinemas nationwide from Rafaella Films International. Rated R-13 by the MTRCB.