Movie review – Train to Busan (2016)

Train to Busan is a 2016 South Korean action horror film directed by Yeon Sang-ho and stars Gong Yoo, Jung Yu-mi and Ma Dong-seok.

The film revolves around the estranged relationship between Su-an (Kim Su-an) and her father, Seok-woo (Yoo). Seok-woo works as a fund manager and never spends time with his daughter, so when her birthday rolls around, Seok-woo forgets about it, scrambles at the final second to buy her a gift she already has, and Su-an demands to spend her birthday with her mother in Busan, who is divorced from Seok-woo.

Strange occurrences begin happening after a chemical leak at a biotech plant. As Su-an and Seok-woo head to the train station for Busan, they spot a massive fire in a building after seeing numerous surge by them.

As they leave the train station, we then see zombies begin attacking people waiting for the next train and our amazing zombie movie begins.

I feel like I’m being spoiled this month because this is another outstanding film. We have some of the most well-written and fleshed-out characters ever put to a horror movie.

Dong-seok and Yu-mi quite possibly portray my favorite horror characters ever. They play a married couple expecting their first child. Dong-seok is this tough, heavy-set man who gets a lot of zombie butt throughout the film and does everything he can to protect his pregnant wife. However, his wife is also a total badass as she fights these zombies as well to protect Su-an. They are the heart and soul of this film and provide a lot of perfectly-timed comedic relief. They are phenomenal.

There’s also some subtle social commentary in this film, which focuses on class and how the wealthy are willing to feed those, who aren’t at their level, to the zombies. They are OK with these people being killed for their own peace of mind. While one of my most hated characters ever, Kim Eui-sung takes this role tremendously as the villain and does some horrible things to stay alive. For my anime fans out there, he’s on Shou Tucker levels of despicable.

The action scenes are fantastic. This isn’t a movie filled with jump-scares. The horror is the enclosure of the train and people dividing themselves to the point where we have a group being selfish enough to close off others and leave them trapped with zombies. The fight choreography is immaculate and the makeup of the zombies is done really well when they aren’t CGI and that’s really my only flaw with this movie.

There’s some highly-noticeable CGI with the body contortion when people transition to zombies and there’s a train crash that could’ve looked more realistic. The location seemed pretty isolated enough where you could a pull a practical stunt like that but budget issues obviously could’ve prevented that.

At the heart of this movie is an emotionally-gripping tale of a father and daughter trying to connect. As we get later and later into the film, you start to feel a sense of dread and by the end, I guarantee that you are going to be balling your eyes out like I did.

Minus some obvious CGI, this is a remarkable film. It’s paced incredibly well, even at a nearly two-hour runtime. There are great action sequences with the zombies and we have some amazing performances and the best characters I’ve ever seen in a horror film.

Rating: 9.5/10

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