ReviewJess V. K2016Comment

Train to Busan (2016), Dir. Yeon Sang-Ho

ReviewJess V. K2016Comment
Train to Busan (2016), Dir. Yeon Sang-Ho
Busan is still open, so let’s go there...
— Train to Busan (2016)

Stars: Gong Yoo, Ma Dong-Seok, Jung Yoo-mi, Choi Woo-shik, Ahn So-hee, Kim Soo-Ahn.
Director: Yeon Sang-Ho
Screenplay: Yeon Sang-Ho

This is a thrilling, emotional ride from start to finish. An estranged father (Seok Woo played by Gong Yoo) is taking his daughter Soo Ahn (Kim Soo-Ahn) on the train to Busan to see her mother. He is reluctant at first as he is always working long days at his job but as he bought her the same present for her birthday as "children's day" this is the best thing he can offer in place of his slight neglect. 

Before the train heads off a frantic looking woman races onto the train. She looks as though she is having an epileptic fit and while a conductor is trying to help her she is viciously attacked and bitten by the woman. Quickly people are being attacked and turned into zombies and from cabin to cabin people must run for their lives in order not to be infected. Soo Ahn meets a married couple Saug Hwa (Ma Dong-Seok) and Sung Gyeong (Jung Yoo-Mi) who are expecting their first child while she tries to hide in the lavatory. So Seok Woo and Suag Hwa make a formidable team that try to save the uninfected people on the train.

Their saving grace is that the infected zombies don't seem to know how to open compartment doors and when they enter tunnels or if they cover the glass doors they don't seem to attack the uninfected. While all of this is happening on the train there has been a widespread outbreak of the infected all over South Korea. There are times where they try to disembark the train only to find that these cities have been completely taken over by the virus.

It is a simple zombie apocalypse scenario but this film has real heart. It is hard to watch these characters go through each cabin trying to survive and have hope that their destination is zombie free. The relationship between Saug Hwa and his daughter is so beautiful to watch as he learns to connect with her. There are real stakes at play here, no one character is safe from being turned and as there are less and less survivors the tension builds to something that is barely tolerable.

I am not a general zombie fan, I usually find it as a lazy premise but this film really nails the action beats, emotional drive, and sheer desperation of the entire train and country. It is an emotional ride that is more than I bargained for. It is a massive highlight of 2016 filmmaking.