Trying to fall in love with film again.

The only thing I could say at the end of Train to Busan was "Wow what a film."

Story 

Fund manager and workaholic Seo Seok-woo takes his daughter, Su-an travel to Busan to celebrate her birthday with her mother and Seok-woo's estranged wife. Unbeknownst to them, a zombie apocalypse is rapidly spreading throughout Korea. 

Movies like this one usually have a simple story that anchors you to a few characters. They all want to survive, however, there is a lot more emotion here than we are used to seeing in zombie movies. 

Acting 

Gong Yoo's acting is incredible. There are so many facets to his character, Soek-woo that we see throughout the movie. He goes from a somewhat reluctant protagonist to someone we are actively rooting for. At his core, Seok-woo is a man who loves his daughter and even though he may not show it at the beginning, we see that he would do almost anything to keep her safe, including fight literal zombies. You spend most of the movie with him and because of that, you see the changes that he goes through as a character, which makes his arch all the more impactful. 
Fun fact, if you have watched Squid Game, then you will instantly recognise him. (He plays the guy that everyone wants to slap them. Twitter's words not mine)

Kim Su-an plays Seo Su-an, and she is arguably the emotional core of the movie, and easily delivers the best performance. Yes, she plays a child but there is so much more to Su-an, she is smart and witty but also comes across as a child who is out of their depth. In truth, she doesn't have much to do but even with that, she endears you to her and is able to tug at you5r heartstrings when necessary.

Zombie movies typically focus on the main characters and leaving the supporting characters to fend for themselves. In this movie, even though we don't learn a lot about the supporting cast, we spend a lot of time with them and start to care about them. They may not be as well-rounded as the Seok-woo and Su-an but they are characters that we start to root for as the movie goes on.

I would also be remiss if I did not mention the zombies themselves. Yeah, they are very unsettling. Would I say they are distinct from other movie zombies? No, I would not, but the actors who played zombies really did everything they had to do. They understood the assignment.

Writing/Direction

The writer Park Joo-suk and director Yeon Sang-ho crafted a fast-paced zombie thriller with emotion. Usually zombie thrillers er on the tense and forgettable. You watch it, feel stressed while you watch it, and leave without it impacting you in any way but you really feel with this movie. 

Now, given the nature of the movie, you know that collateral damage is bound to occur but even with that knowledge, it doesn't make some of the death scenes any less impactful. And that boils down to Yeon Sang-ho's direction. We spend the right amount of time with the characters and see them as people rather than victims. 

This film is also filled with tension in the right places. I was legit on the edge of my seat throughout the movie. And given the fact that 90% of the movie takes place on the train means that there is a sense of claustrophobia as you watch the movie, which adds to the tension.

Something else I want to note is the timing of this movie, both in its runtime and the film's setting. The entire plot takes place over a couple of hours 6 at the most. The train in the movie is a KTX bullet train, one of the fastest in Korea, and the journey from Seoul to Busan is about 3 hours. And this movie manages to fit in so much tension and drama into that time. 

In regards to the runtime, 118 minutes which is about 1 hour and 57 minutes is the perfect amount of time for a movie like this. It is enough time to set up the situation and go through the motions with the movie feeling like it is rushing. 

CGI/Set Design 

Most of the movie takes place on a train and the filmmakers had to be considerate of that. The movie is filmed in a way that lends itself to claustrophobia. You have a lot of tight angles and long shots which help pull you into the world. 

There are some scenes that are reminiscent of this one in World War Z. 


Though not as large a scale. Regardless of those scenes that do look a little fake, the CGI blends very well and I am very curious to know how much of the film was shot practically and how much was CGI.

Score/Soundtrack 

Like many zombie movies, sound design plays a pivotal role in the movie. There are scenes that involve a lot of noise, and scenes that require no noise at all. And Jang Young-gyu who worked on music and sound design of making sure that the sound appropriately fit the scene without taking you out of it.

Overall Thoughts

When I realized that I had never reviewed this movie, I knew that I had to rectify it IMMEDIATELY! Train to Busan is one of those movies that all your film friends mention all the time. And for good reason. This movie stressed me out from beginning to end and that is what I liked about it. It is fast-paced and tense while also having emotional resonance. 

Train to Busan while not reinventing the wheel, is a well-crafted, well-acted movie that is tense when it needs to be, emotional when it needs to be, and made me say, "Wow, what a film." at the end.

If you like Train to Busan, then you'll like Alive, Kingdom, and Sweet Home which are all on Netflix. They're all in the zombie apocalypse/monster movie genre. (I can personally say that Sweet Home is pretty good and I am going to start Kingdom once I am done with this review.)

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