To begin, let’s establish a baseline of sorts.
Sang ho-Yeon’s Train To Busan, while it promotes itself as a zombie movie, isn’t. It’s actually closer to “infected” movies like 28 Days Later, Rec, The Girl With All The Gifts and The Night Eats The World than a traditional zombie movie.
And while George Romero didn’t make the rules for zombies in movies, he did more to advance their cause than any director prior, and he’s established that they don’t do things like run.
That’s because they’re dead and dead things aren’t known for their athleticism. In fact, the trend of Olympic-level zombies is relatively recent (I want to say it began in earnest with Zach Snyder’s reboot of Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead in 2004 but don’t hold me to it) and it’s a trend I don’t accept because what makes zombies so dangerous isn’t their speed, it’s their inevitableness.
They’re like the tide: You might be able to escape it just by moving backward a few feet, but it’s not going to stop and if don’t get out of the way it will eventually “get” you.
That being said, Train To Busan is among the best of it’s type because the story isn’t about the monsters, but the people that have to deal with them.
Though that doesn’t mean anything if your characters aren’t engaging enough to keep one’s interest, though Busan does.
At the heart of the movie is Seok-woo (Yoo Gong), a businessman more concerned about his work than anything else, and his daughter, Soo-an (Su-an Kim).
Estranged from his wife(?) he’s taking his daughter to visit when chaos breaks out. We know things are getting bad from various newscasts as Seok-woo moves through the movie, though we don’t truly see how bad things have got till he reaches the train station.
Here’s where you see the huge debt the movie owes to World War Z, which came three years earlier.
In fact, it could be argued that it’s a sequel of sorts, so firmly does it hew to that movie’s visual esthetic (in fact, it’s a little problematic at points because the movie has two instances of zombies falling from heights which should have shattered their legs, but instead they just get up and start moving – by which I mean running).
Though that doesn’t happen a lot, and isn’t enough to distract from the very human story the movies tells.
Train To Busan is currently streaming on Tubi and is available in both dubbed and subtitled versions.