On one of the zombie fan groups that I’m in, someone mentioned the movie Train to Busan. It’s a Korean film about a father and his daughter who are trapped on a train with a horde of incredibly dangerous zombies, and questionable humans who may prove to be worse than the zombies.
I’m normally fairly skeptical of foreign films, and it’s a drag for me to have to plow through subtitles. It’s really hard to be on my phone when I have to read every word. It’s not even like Spanish movies, where I can limp through the dialogue without having to read. But I gave it a shot, because everyone seemed to like it, Rotten Tomatoes gave it a startling 95%, and I know the Pacific Islands are masters at horror.
We start with a guy in a cargo truck stopped at a biological checkpoint. Men in hazmat suits spray off his vehicle, as he is coming out of bio research area. Since this isn’t a normal occurrence in America, at least, I’m interested.
The man drives off but smacks into a deer. It looks like the deer’s totaled. But after the truck continues down the road, Bambi hops up. We get a close-up of its eyes, which look like they have cataracts. I know people have different opinions about a zombie virus that can jump species to infect animals and vice versa, but I rather like the idea. It’s a good spin on the old human-only zombie, it’s like real-world zombies, and it’s very dangerous for the characters.
Character Interest Factor
We meet a somewhat neglectful father Seok-Woo and his young daughter Soo-An . He spends most of his time at work and makes up for it by giving her poorly thought-out gifts. He gives her a Wii when she already has one. She wants to go to Busan where her mother is, but he says he doesn’t have time. She’s willing to go by herself. It’s not that he’s trying to be a dick; he’s just a workaholic. He leaves her in the care of her grandma most of the time, because I’m sure she totally wants to raise another kid when she’s in her 70s. Already I’m starting to care about these people. They feel real.
We get a little picture of how his life at work is, where he is a fund manager. Apparently his company knows a little bit about what’s going on in the bio research bone, but they think it’s a false report.
Normally in horror movies, I really don’t care about the characters. By the way, I don’t consider Zombieland a horror movie, because I really can’t give that label to any movie that turns Bill Murray into a zombie. I do care about the characters in that film, fyi.
The protagonists grow quite a lot throughout the movie. The biggest change is seen in the father, who finally steps up to the plate for his daughter. There is much sacrifice on the characters’ parts, which is always compelling.
There is not one instance where I roll my eyes at the quality of the makeup or costumes.
Special effects quality the special effects are amazing. Particularly impressive is the transformation of human into zombie. The zombies attacks are also well done.
There isn’t a whole lot in regard to medical issues.
I’ve said before I’m usually pretty good at predicting who dies. This does not hold true for movies that are not American. Especially the Japanese and Korean movies. This one is no different. The ending was a complete twist and had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I can only hope that I write so effectively in my novels.
The plot was quite logical. People are trapped in a train. The train and the surrounding cities become infected with the zombie virus or whatever it is, and the survivors on board must do all they can to protect themselves and each other.
All characters behaved quite logically. You have a good feel for the characters early on, which makes understanding their motives easy.
Monster Danger Factor
The zombies are incredibly dangerous! They are fast, strong, and work in a pack. They do have a weakness, but it’s not one that you can use too easily. When you’re bitten by one of these monsters, you turn into one of them in a matter of seconds.
There are very few horror movies that have a monster that I’m actually impressed by, but this pulls it off. It’s even harder to make zombies threatening. We’re all used to The Walking Dead type, which you can basically take out with the sharpened #2 pencil and a brisk walk.
There really aren’t any moments where you wonder why on Earth such and such a thing happened. If something happens that you wouldn’t have done personally, it’s explained quite well by the fact that that’s how that character behaves. No, really, it makes sense. When a person sacrifices themselves, it is in keeping with their personality. When they act selfishly, it’s not really a surprise.
Facebook Check Index
Since I had to read the subtitles, and since I had to finish the movie on my cell phone because my laptop was screwing up, there was no Facebook involved.
Like The Walking Dead, Train to Busan uses a human as one of the main antagonists. In this case, it’s greedy railroad bigwig Yong-Suk, who dominates the train conductor and staff into doing his bidding. He is focused on his survival alone, which is bad news for everyone else.
His villainy starts out small enough as he asks for totally reasonable actions to be taken by the conductor. If it had stopped here, we could have labeled him The Logical One, not the antagonist. Though in horror movies, those are often the same. There’s a fine line between logical efficiency and efficient cruelty. You do what you have to in order to survive, but where do you draw the line?
This escalates, however, costing many their lives. The very actions he thinks will save him actually doom him. We have to be careful to consider the long-term impact of our actions. They can have unintended consequences, which we must try to foresee as much as possible.
Overall, I loved to hate the villain, yet I understood his motives.
Was it worth watching?
Most definitely! If you like zombie movies even a little, or even if you don’t, this is worth the two hours. Yes, you have to read the subtitles, but there aren’t that many of them, since this is a survival-horror movie. I will warn you, though, you’ll need a box of Kleenex at the end.
Thoughts? Did you watch this? Do you know any other quality zombie movies? Comment!
Author: LC Champlin
About me: Writer, traveler, adventurer, prepper. Lover of all things Geek and Dark. INTJ. I share my experiences because they can help you adapt, advance, and achieve.
I write fiction because the characters in my head have too much attitude to stay in my skull, I want to see the world through different eyes, and I want to live life through different souls.