#filmreview: Train To Busan

WARNING: While the review herein contains little-to-none spoilers, the video footage and clips featured might give away / spoil certain elements of the story.

I like a good zombie movie - and by that I do not mean the gory zombie-blood-porn-fueled offerings folks might remember zombie-flicks for … so films like “Shaun of the Dead”, “Warm Bodies”, and even “World War Z” and it’s ilk, appeal to me. Call it “Zombie-Lite” for all I care LOL

Since “28 Days”, the genre has provided a template of sh*tstorms served by humanity. Mortals screw with viruses. Virus escapes and infects humans. Humans start eating other humans. Humanity is screwed. A group of people somehow escapes.

Although the day might or might not be “saved” - more likely not/never, otherwise how could sequels happen? :)

The film starts ala the above paragraphs, nonchalant, with everyday issues plaguing the folks involve - in this particular instance, we see the POV from funds manager “Seok-woo” (played by Gong Yoo, whom I recognise from TV serials - thanks, Mum!) and his daughter “Soo-an” (Kim Soo-an), whom he takes to see his estranged ex-wife, on her birthday.

We get to see the events unfold thru the eyes of Soo-an, and the next time you take a train ride, you might do double takes on journey and what you see MUAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAA

Then when the sh*t starts to hit the fan, you end up feeling helpless, looking on at the situations happening in front of you, on the big screen.

TRAIN TO BUSAN provided a slightly different POV, in so much an Eastern perspective, bolstered no doubt by western notions, and fills it with “humanity” - both beautiful and ugly - and the choices people make, given dire circumstances. The message might seem heavy handed, but necessary.



The mood is perpetually melancholic from the beginning, so we are somewhat eased into the chaos subsequently, methinks. Nice notion to keep building the mood of the audience this way.

This film is clever. It nurtures the mood both dire and somewhat sprinkled with notions of “hope”, while “despair” constantly waits at the edges of your subconsciousness … “What would you do in a situation like this?”

There are genre surprises that might delight the seasoned zombie-flick goer, and given the oversaturated notion of zombies amongst human beings (from film to TV and media et al), this is refreshing, and entertaining, wrapping rehashed concepts in a nice lettuce leave wrap, yummy to eat!

And what I enjoyed as well about this film, is that the gore is not shoved in your face at any given moment, for cheap scares and sudden loud music - this instead cleverly pulses along with whatever is happening at the moment, and that to me sets this apart from other flicks of this particular genre.

The dramatic pulse pounding music score you hear, is from the trailers you see here. The movie is nicely restrained, and that makes it so much more suspenseful, because you cannot expect what is happening next, without the musical cue, IMHO.

train to busan


I would not disagree that the characterisation might be considered “razor thin”, for most of the ensemble, but what they do, and choose to do, essentially describes them apart from each other, and in such a flick, where the “strongest” survive (or so you assume), that is enough, to provide you a chance to smile when they triumph, and a tear for when they fail.

“The strongest survive” - is tested to it’s limits too, with results both expected and un-expected.


A collective of people with a shared ordeal, quickly forms a memory and impression of people that you might know, know of, or “are”. “What would I do in a situation like this?”

Dialog is kept to what was necessary to provide motivation, emotion, and as well “character”.

From the hapless father, to the brash and brave husband, to the plucky pregnant wife, to the teenage baseball player, to ex-“Wonder Girls” So-hee, everybody had a part to play in the story, everyone contributed one way or another to the journey, not just of survival, but of self-discovery.

The “homeless man” provided the “comedic” twisted in a scenario such as this film, but would otherwise be deemed “comedy” in other circumstances.

This might not be a tear-fest that you might need a box of tissue, but the sadness lingers a bit longer than you’d expect, IMHO.



I liked how the term “zombie” was used in this film, and yet again humanity creates something that bites us back in the butt, and neck, and arms, and … the opening sequence with the deer provided the visual cue we need and see for the entire film’s journey.

And a “road trip” it had been, perfectly enjoyable, with the necessary bumps and scares, but never truly cover-eyes-worthy - which again is fine by me - and I found myself going along for the ride, with hardly any time spent on spotting nor nit-picking any overtly egregious scripting issues and such (habits of a blogger, I guess), and appreciate the freeing notion of such a situation, which heightens the appeal of TRAIN TO BUSAN, post-viewing.


You would expect a film such as this to be crammed with tears and screams of agony, but that is very much controlled, but for the floodgates of emotions opening at the third act, a heart-rendering moment, and choice taken.

Sobs are drowned by the chaos of the feeding frenzy, and you hold your breath … maybe.

The bittersweet ending was unexpected but appreciated. And you know that this is not a Hollywood-made film, because the ending is such, for which I will not spoil anything for you.

TRAIN TO BUSAN is worth the hype and accolades heaped upon it thus far. I have nothing bad to say, and unequivocally give it a 5/5 rating for a throughly enjoyable viewing and time well spent in a darkened cinema!

Watching this on the plasma screen in comfort at home, might do you a disservice with enjoying the film, IMHO. As while this is not queasy for the kids, think twice before bringing your crying child into the theatre, yeh?

MAKING-OF (no English subs / Mandarin subs):

Seems Hollywood will be adapting/remaking this South Korean film (like I said, the “ending” might make the difference to who did what :p). And if you have a chance, maybe catch the prequel to Train To Busan, with Seoul Station - an animated feature (Opening Sept 22nd in Singapore!), as well directed by the live-action ilm’s director; Yeon Sang-Ho - who cut his teeth with two previous animated films too (“The Fake” 2013, “The King of Pigs” 2011).

(No Eng subs):