The fourth feature and first live-action film from South Korean director Yeon Sang-ho, who also made the bleak animation King Of Pigs, fuses the zombie apocalypse movie with elements of old-school disaster blockbusters.
Train To Busan plays out like an overly sentimental blend of The Poseidon Adventure meets Dawn Of The Dead, only set on a high-speed train headed to Busan.
We meet a single father and his young daughter who are finding it hard to connect due to the fact that he works too much, an expecting couple in love, two elderly sisters and a high-school baseball team on the train. There’s also a villainous CEO who is only looking out for himself. Sang-ho Yeon is once again concerned with how the underclass are affected by the actions of the rich. He lays it on a bit too thick at times with naff declarations of love and condemnations of capitalism, but also delivers some exhilarating action sequences.
His undead are raging, ravenous beings who can run at a quick pace in a similar style to Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, and there’s an impressively choreographed chase sequence which sees a mass of soldiers crashing through glass and landing atop the train.
The sense of mad panic is ably conveyed, but Sang-ho Yeon is also nifty at the quieter scenes, with the passengers using sound to distract the zombies at one point proving to be edge-of-your seat stuff.
When it comes to the heroes of the piece, this train rolls backwards in regards to gender, with three generations of men taking it upon themselves to save the women, who mostly cower in the corner. Dong-seok Ma as the muscular father-to-be gets to kick some serious zombie ass and brings a great sense of humour to the film.
It’s a shame then that the women get sidelined, but at least the young daughter, Su-an, gets to demonstrate her courage in terms of riding against a pack mentality.
Train To Busan is a viciously entertaining ride for the most part, but it’s bookended with a needless introductory sequence and an extremely cheesy ending that borders on comical. Removal of these flaccid parts off would have made it a slicker journey.