'Train To Busan' takes place in a modern day Seoul, where Gong Yoo plays the role of a fund manager (which is often referred to as being the job of a "blood sucking leech" throughout the film). He and his family are undergoing a divorce and emphasis the fact that he struggles to thoroughly be there for his daughter, typically when she needs him most, yet he is put to the test once the zombie outbreak occurs and he must do everything he can, crazy or not, to save his daughter.
Typical family drama aside, it is revealed from the beginning that there is a zombie outbreak as a truck is pulling through a toll and needs to be sanitized before entering. Although annoyed, the workers alert the driver that there was a minor nuclear leak and to take precautions. Then the irony befalls us, as he doesn't take precautions and hits a deer in the middle of the highway. Assuming the deer is dead, he wearily drives away as the deer suddenly props up back to life revealing it is infected. This is when all the panic settles in.
I"ll admit it though, for me personally, the film does lack a lot of fear factors that the 'Walking Dead' series offers up (maybe due to a low makeup budget?) but as a fan of such zombie thrillers, 'Train To Busan' offers up an appealing rush of suspense and anxiety throughout the film. But it is the killer story line that keeps the move interesting.
As the film progresses, it is Gong Yoo's daughter's birthday and they decide to take a train to Busan to visit his wife. Unfortunately, all hell breaks loose as a sudden passenger enters the train, has a seizure and then bites the neck of a KTX service-woman. Yikes! Upon that moment, the KTX service-woman busts down the doors and starts biting necks left and right, creating complete and utter panic while a couple of imbeciles sit there in disbelief waiting to be eaten.
Although these Korean zombies are not the usual ones you'd see on the big screen in America, I enjoyed this new style. The zombies still maintain very human-like qualities with the only difference being that once they are bitten they are instantaneously infected; their eyes become glossy with stark white skin and bulging veins, and they have unbelievable dexterity and speed. If you're wondering, the answer is yes, it looks exactly like TWICE's 'Ooh Ahh' without sexy dancing.
But the real horror doesn't lie in the zombies, the true message of this movie is the horror that lies within the actions and values of an odd group of people mashed together by a twist of fate. A little dash of comedy is crafted through the hilarious pairings that I feel no one, including Gong Yoo, would want during a zombie apocalypse. Two grandmas, a homeless man, a pregnant woman with a slightly overweight husband, a baseball player and his girlfriend (who happens to be Sohee), a train conductor, a corrupt businessman and then Gong Yoo's daughter.
The zombies are a strong symbolism of uncovering one another's true intentions. The corrupt businessman still believes he is better than others in a world where hierarchy no longer exists, Gong Yoo feels helping others can lead to his own demise in a world that isn't always nice, the grandmas wonder why being kind to others can sometimes create a personal problem, and then there is the innocence of Gong Yoo's daughter, who's raw, canvas-like mind is a representation of our own minds deciding between morality and survival.
Gong Yoo's daughter makes little actions throughout the film because I believe it leaves us in the same position as her, wondering how to react in this circumstance. What morals and values do we have that would affect our actions?
Speaking of moral, notice earlier how I mentioned a corrupt business man? It is because that is all he is throughout the whole film! He locks one of the grandmas outside the train cart to be eaten to death, he uses the conductor as bait to lure the zombies away from him, and ultimately flings Sohee at a zombie in his ruthless attempt at an escape. Oh, yeah, and he bites the lead hottie, Gong Yoo. And just like that, there was an epic moment of silence that takes over the film and the audience alike as Gong Yoo struggles to resist infection while saving his daughter and the pregnant woman who are last to survive on the train to Busan.
The movie ends with the pregnant woman and Gong Yoo's daughter reaching a barricade of dead bodies on the train track. As they sift through the debris, they tiredly walk through a long, dark tunnel awaiting what is on the other side. Fortunately, there are army men waiting at the end but mistake them for being infected as they aim their guns towards their heads...and I'll end this review on a cliffhanger.
Overall, the underlying theme is that people are greedy, selfish, and often think of themselves first. There is also the conflicting idea of how people only think of others when it is beneficial for them and a strong sense of 'the good guys finish last' mantra. In the case of a zombie apocalypse, or any life or death situation, which comes first-- your life or someone else's?
'Train to Busan' did well in theaters in and outside of Korea. It scored high ratings on American sites like Rotten Tomato and in my book as well. It was also revealed on August 7th that the film set a record as the first Korean film of 2016 to break the audience record with over 10 million theatergoers. The numbers speak for itself. So don't waste any more time, get yourself to a theater and judge for yourself!
Music Score................ 7