(From left to right) Choi Woo-shik, Ma Dong-seok and Gong Yoo
This South Korean zombie apocalypse horror film is an intense train ride to escape an unidentifiable virus that spreads rapidly across Korea. The claustrophobic tension in a train compartment is the best thing to see right now!
- Korean title: 부산행, Busanhaeng
- Director: Yeon Sang-ho
- Cast: Gong Yoo, Ma Dong-seok, Jung Yu-mi, Choi Woo-shik
- Language: Korean
- Genre: Action, thriller and horror
- Country: South Korea
- Release date: 20 July 2016
- Running Time: 118 minutes
- Box Office: US$120 million
Did You Know…
- Train to Busan is the highest South Korean grossing film of all time in Hong Kong since its release.
- It also premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival in France.
- Actor Ma Dong-seok, who played the husband of the pregnant lady, was Gong Yoo’s personal trainer.
- This film is the director’s first ever action film as his previous works were animated feature.
- Actress Jin-hee, who plays a cheerleader, is an ex-member of Kpop girl group Wonder Girls.
- Similar to Japanese films, Korean horror films focus more on the pain and suffering of characters rather than blood and guts imagery.
… some Quotes…
- “At a time like this, only watch out for yourself” – Seek-Woo (Gong Yoo)
- “I heard you’re a fund manager. Then you’re an expert at leaving useless people behind” – Sang-hwa (Ma Dong-seok)
- “I’ll take you to mom no matter what” – Seek-Woo (Gong Yoo)
… and lastly, my thoughts…
I wasn’t quite sure which South Korean film to start with so I stumbled upon this film called Train to Busan. I’m not really a big fan of anything that involves horror or zombies but this film basically sealed the deal for me.
With a perfect cast and a bumpy ride from Seoul to Busan to escape an unidentifiable virus that spreads Korea, Train to Busan is the zombie film of the year and a smash hit this summer in South Korea ever since its release. On August 7th, it was officially the first Korean film of 2016 that topped over 10 million viewers in the territory. Now, ever since its release in Hong Kong, this zombie blockbuster captivated local audiences, making it the most watched Asian film of all time.
Train to Busan is the first zombie blockbuster in Korea and the first live action film directed by Yeon Sang-ho as his previous works were only animated features. As expected, his directorial debut was simply a success.
Seok-wu is a divorced workholic fund manager that barely spends time with his daughter Su-an. She tells her father that she wants to go see her mother in Busan for her birthday gift, to which the father agrees and accompanies her.
This train ride is not only about going to Busan, it’s symbolic in a way that the father is going with his daughter to the past to amend their relationships and fix what was dead.
As the main leads board the Korean bullet train, the director gives a beautiful set up of his characters, a husband and his pregnant wife, high school baseball team, obnoxious rich CEO, homeless man and two elderly sisters.
Suddenly, an infected teenage girl with bulging veins on her bare thighs secretly boards the train. Yet, the train and crew were alarmed when a homeless man was hiding in the washroom.
Within minutes, the stray passenger attacks a female train attendant who was trying to help her. This is the moment when the virus spreads and the mayhem begins.
During the film, they learn that there is a zombie outbreak in Korea and slowly try to understand everything they need to know about the flesh-eating creatures onboard in order to prevent from being bitten.
The scenes are perfectly structured. The director keeps the action scenes fast-paced, violent and filled with adrenaline in a claustrophobic environment.
Train to Busan is not only about the struggle between people in the train and those who are infected by the virus but it also unleashes social tension and has a lot of social commentary between the classes.
It shows us what would people do to actually save themselves than save others. For example, when the father tells his daughter that she should watch out for yourself at times like this. When I watched that scene I thought to myself, how can he say that even to his own daughter? That says so much about him and his social status.
You know we watch these films and we instantly assume that the main characters always help the strong and the weak, but realistically speaking, if this happened in real life, some people would say and do the same thing as the father in the film. It may be true it may be not.
The director and writer want to tell us that this is reality. This is not just a zombie film they wanted to create to entertain people, they want to relate it to the real word and portray real people in real life situations.
It questions our humanity and also captures our inner monsters at times of crisis.
Throughout the film, the father learns that it’s wrong for him to say what he said even when he was in trouble and the upper class wouldn’t help him, only leaving one of the characters to die in replace of him.
I don’t want to ruin the film, but I just wanted to share my favorite film shot. One of the characters, who shall not be named, gets bitten and instantly gets killed.
As this unnamed characters falls off the train, the director instantly moves the camera to the shadow of the falling body on the sand.
Korean horror films usually focus on the anguish and suffering of the characters rather than on explicit blood and guts aspect.
The negative remark I have of this film was the color of the blood on their shirts. It didn’t look like blood but more of colouring.
Also, I was quote convinced with actress Jin-hee’s acting skills. She plays who a cheerleader in the film. Although she had some minor roles in the movie, it still wasn’t that convincing, but oh well…
With a thrilling and thematic film like this, I just hope that Hollywood executives don’t take this opportunity to remake an English – language film for their local audiences.
However, rumor has it that there is going to be a sequel, but hopefully not. In my opinion, sequels just basically kill the overall picture of the first original films.
To conclude this, Train to Busan is a purely an entertaining zombie film. It’s really interesting to watch onscreen real people face real danger and in some cases is related to today’s society. It’s beautifully set up with just the right amount of thrill and tension.
If you watch this film and don’t find it entertaining, then I don’t know what to say. You can comment below and let me know your thoughts.
– Samar x