Action / Drama / Horror / Thriller

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 95%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 89%
IMDb Rating 7.5 10 76772


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December 18, 2016 at 03:33 AM



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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by 3xHCCH 10 / 10

More Than Just a Zombie Film

This new Korean film "Train to Busan" is certainly earning a lot of positive word of mouth and box office success since its debut in the Midnight Screenings section of this year's Cannes Film Festival.

The central character is Seok-woo, a man stressed out with problems about his investments business and his divorce. His 9-year old daughter Su-an, feeling neglected, requests her father to bring her to Busan the next day to see her estranged mother. Seok-woo could not say no.

On the same train to Busan as Seok-woo and Su-an, a lady passenger with a bite wound on her legs, collapses and turns into a zombie. As she bites another person, that next person would also turn into a zombie and so on. Panic ensues on the train, and as everyone eventually discover along the way that the same zombie frenzy was true for the rest of the country. The fight to survive is now on.

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.

Gong Woo played the flawed lead character Seok-woo very well. He was able to convincingly portray the development of this uncaring apathetic guy into a hero we could all root for to get through this crisis alive. He was as good in the weepy dramatic scenes as he was in the swashbuckling action scenes. This actor has come a long way since his breakout role as lead star of the TV romantic comedy series "The Coffee Prince" back in 2007.

Kim Su-an is only 10 years old but she had already been acting in films for five years now. She is the dramatic core of this film as the daughter desperately reaching out to her jaded father. As a child actress, she held her own impressively among this cast of veterans with her heartfelt portrayal. Who would have thought that the sad little song she wanted to sing for her father would resonate so much?

Ma Dong-seok is charismatic as Sang-hwa, a devoted husband and selfless fighter. We see him first as some sort of comic relief only, which made the audience warm up to him. Later, we would discover how much more his character was able to do and give for others, and loved him more. His pregnant wife Seong-kyeong was played by acclaimed Korean indie film actress Jung Yu-mi, conveying strength in her delicate condition.

Another actor of note is Kim Eui-sung, who was totally hateful in his role as the selfish Yong-suk. In total contrast to Sang-hwa, Yong- suk was a man only thought of himself alone, not caring that he actually put a lot of other characters directly into harm's way.

Ahn So-hee (as Jin-hee) and Choi Woo-shik (as Young-guk) were in there to inject some teenage romantic angst into the film. They were relatively lightweight performers who were probably included just because they looked cool. That scene when Young-guk encounters his baseball teammates-turned-zombies was very well-conceived by the writers.

People may dismiss as "just" being a zombie film, but it is the drama of human relationships and interactions that rises above the horrific and thrilling carnage. Director Yeon Sang-ho's first two feature- length films ("The King of Pigs" and "The Fake") were both animated films exploring the bleak side of human nature. With his first live action directorial effort, Yeon has created a complete film masterpiece with "Train to Busan." Highly recommended! 10/10.

Reviewed by ctowyi 8 / 10

Board this train!

This is one fantastic train ride. I love the creative ideas and the economical character setups. No need for too much heavy top-down moralization. This is a straight-up disaster flick with zombies coming in swarms from all directions. So we already know the archetypal characters - the coward, the brave one, the pregnant one, the youth in love, the heroic one and so on. The fun is in seeing which one will die first and who will live. This train is loaded with some colorful characters.

Putting 80% of the action on a bullet train didn't constraint the wealth of inventive ideas one bit as the commuters escape the crazy zombies from car to car. The momentum is terrific and I kept marveling at all creative problem-solving; some I have never seen before. The character arc of the main actor from narcissistic anti-hero to titular hero is very potent and what injects the narrative with much forward power. Love the subtext of class and government hypocrisy, class division, vileness of human nature and the dreaded herd mentality. Ya ya ya, I know the movie never delves too deep into them. Because that would rob the movie of its relentless momentum. I think Paul Greengrass who made Jason Bourne needs to study the cinematography here. You don't need to do split-second cuts and shake the camera to make the audience feel in-the-moment. The action set-pieces are so well choreographed that I understand and see everything.

Straits Times (my local papers) said the last act is disappointing with the train derailing, crashing into some cliché-obstacles and careening through melodramatic territory. Hello? This is Korean cinema - melodrama is expected and in this case welcomed with open arms. IMHO the first two acts are so explosively fun and rollicking thrilling that it practically earned its melodramatic ending. Heck! I was nearly tearing up.

This is one of the most entertaining and unpretentious zombie movies I have seen in a while. This is one train you need to board.

Reviewed by davelowen 10 / 10

The best zombie movie I have ever seen

The best zombie film I have ever seen (outside of the comedy Shaun of the Dead). Such a great film. It starts exactly like a train ride gathering momentum and gaining speed. The only difference with this train ride is I didn't want it to stop. It has a brilliant script, fantastic effects plus a very good choice of cast and acting. It also has a 'credible' plot (as credible as you can get with the zombie genre). Many of the scenes will stay with me for a long time. I hear that Hollywood want to do a remake of it. It will be interesting if it will be done as well as this. I thoroughly recommend this very refreshing and fast paced film. Get a ticket and enjoy the ride!

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