Film: “Train To Busan”; Director: Yeon Sang-ho; Cast: Gong Yoo, Jung Yu-mi, Ma Dong-seok, Choi Woo-sik, Ahn So-hee, Kim Eui-sung, Kim Su-an; Rating: ***1/2
Director Yeon Sang-Ho’s “Train To Busan” isn’t a just mindless, zombie horror film. In fact, it is a thrilling film, packed with meaningful lessons that tend to be moralistic.
The film serves as a potent allegory to portray a dog-eat-dog world, where humans are just another lot of selfish animals.
The plot almost follows a formulaic pattern where a divorced father tries to be a better dad to his daughter. All of which, takes place within a zombie apocalypse, but this time on a train that rolls out from Seoul.
So, to fulfil his daughter Su-an’s (Kim Su-an) desire to be united with her mother in Busan on her birthday, the conscientious yet workaholic fund manager, Seok-woo (Gong Yoo) agrees to accompany his daughter on the 270-mile journey.
And while the two get seated in the train, we are introduced to the other passengers, which include; Sang-hwa (Ma Dong-seok) a rough but kind-hearted man and his pregnant wife Seong-kyeong (Jung Yu-mi), Young-guk (Choi Woo-sik) a young baseball star and his team along with Jin-hee (Ahn So-hee) a cheerleader, Yong-suk (Kim Eui-sung) a self-centred and selfish CEO of a bus company, In-gil and Jong-gil (Ye Soo-jung and Park Myung-sin) two elderly sisters and a homeless man (Choi Gwi-hwa).
The script does spell out the philosophy of karma and with every character, well-defined and having their moment of on-screen glory, one gets invested in them. And, with the progression of the plot, you start rooting and sieving the good from the evil and wait to see who will survive this epidemic.
The entire cast delivers a convincing performance. But what makes the film stand apart is the execution of the entire drama that makes it a nerve-wracking edge-of-the-seat spectacle. Yang Jin-mo’s razor-sharp editing raise the bar as he layers cinematographer Lee Hyung-deok’s intensely captured images.
Technically, the action sequences and the visual effects are crisp and brilliant. The piling up of zombies in the various scenes along with the zombies forming a trail of human-undead, latched to the speeding locomotive, are worth a mention.
The special effects, stunts and make-up artists have enhanced the realism in the film.
The background score and music by Jang Young-gyu along with the sound-effects designed by Choi Tae-young, heighten the viewing experience. They are both frugally and effectively used to create genuine shocks rather than false jolts.
Overall, this film is a pleasantly appealing and engaging film that will find a place among the zombie cult classics.
By Troy Ribeiro