Friday, 16 September 2016

KOREAN MOVIE REVIEW: TRAIN TO BUSAN


8/10

We have seen it all before, a world pandemic, the dead come alive and the characters are struggling to survive in a changing world. But TRAIN TO BUSAN is not just a "zombies on a train" flick,  it provides and delivers an emotional impact that only Korean cinema is capable of.

TRAIN TO BUSAN is the follow up to Yeon Sung-Ho's animated feature SEOUL STATION and is his first Live Action film. He is a remarkable filmmaker, whose work always focuses on social injustices in modern South Korea, his main characters being underdogs and social pariahs. Here, however, he steps away from this type of protagonist, introducing a seemingly cold hearted and calculating businessman Seok-Woo, who reluctantly accepts his daughter's birthday wish and takes her to Busan to see her estranged mother. Soon after, the country is in lockdown, a virus outbreak begins and the flesh eating army of zombies emerge. Busan, however, seems to be a safe haven, so the train carries on. With the passengers succumbing to the virus one after the other, Seok-Woo will have to make many character defining choices in order to save his daughter and protect others.

TRAIN TO BUSAN relies more on action than suspense. With a very few obvious CGI moments, it is full of practical effects and make up, that make the gory moments naturalistic and "raw". The sympathetic characters and relentless thrills provide a huge entertainment value, but one cannot escape the feeling it has all been done before. What puts TRAIN TO BUSAN apart from many other popular zombie movies, is the famous Korean sentimentality. Delivered just in the right dose it makes TRAIN TO BUSAN somewhat special, putting it higher than many similar zombie flicks.


TRAIN TO BUSAN is a solidly made, well-paced feature, that doesn't pretend to be more than it is - entertainment. It's is a sort of a "bagatelle" for the serious filmmaker Yeon Sang-ho, but it is certain to bring him some international acknowledgement, that he well deserves.

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