Train to Busan (Busanhaeng, South Korea, 2016)

They are going to get you

It’s 50 years since George A. Romero revitalised the zombie movie with Night of the Living Dead and Yeon Sang-ho show’s there’s satirical life in it still with this entertaining bloodfest. The spin is ‘zombies on a train’ and the social satire is at the expense of corporate Korea, though I guess hedge fund executives are the same everywhere.

Horror, particularly of the gory kind, tends to become less appealing as you age not because you become squeamish but you’ve been taken out of your visceral comfort zone often enough thank you. Yeon’s direction, though, as is often the case in Korean cinema, is kinetic enough to grab the attention and the characters are well-drawn enough to be both sympathetic and hated. It’s difficult to hate zombies as they know not what they do so a good human villain is necessary.

The protagonist is taking his neglected daughter to Busan when the shit hits the train and he convincingly regains his humanity whilst battering back the undead hordes. Ma Dong-seok’s working class hero is a great character channeling the humour of The Good, the Bad and the Weird into the pathos of a man trying to do the right thing.

Train to Busan was Yeon Sang-ho’s first live action feature; it followed Seoul Station which is described as a sequel in places but its links to the later film is simply ‘zombies in Korea’. A genuine sequel is following.

One Response

  1. […] Republic, 2003), for example, shared a ‘battle through a train’ narrative with Train to Busan, but was nowhere near as good. To be fair Harvey ‘Scissorhands’ Weinstein may have […]

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