This is a record-breaking film for a reason. Being the first Korean film of 2016 to get 10 million theatregoers to see it, it’s a big blockbuster at its finest. It’s wittier than the incredibly witty Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and that’s saying something. Being not much of a horror/thriller fan myself, I was taken aback by how watchable this film is. Meet Seok-woo (Gong Yoo), a divorced single father. His daughter, Soo-an (Kim Su-an), asks him to take her to Busan so that she can see her mother. He is reluctant, but when his workplace allows him to take the time off, he is happy to do it, travelling using a train service that departs from Seoul. As the train departs, a woman who had earlier been attacked on her leg, turns into a zombie, and chaos erupts. The city of Busan manages to fight back the zombie attacks, but when Seok-woo discovers what role his company had in causing the attack in the first place, he is truly shocked.
It does a good job at easing you into the action, as the first “dead and alive” thing the audience comes into contact with is a deer, as a truck drives through a biochemical quarantine area. The train to Busan also features a wide host of characters, many of them quite standard stock characters, such as a working-class couple and a high school baseball team, but it is the homeless man who is the most interesting; he saw a Zombie attack earlier and has been traumatised by the incident. He manages to stay with Soo-an and her father, and therefore escapes quarantine. As you can imagine, there’s lots of death and gore, but the somewhat happy ending offers a silver lining.
It’s a bit of a heavy watch, but undoubtedly an interesting one. The characters are well built and it’s a great narrative piece. The film is well constructed, with the melodramatic music thoughtfully implemented in order to off-set the gore and trauma. This also gives the film more emotion as any other mindless zombie-apocalypse franchise. It’s crazy and wild, but one you’ll want to finish…on Halloween, perhaps?
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