Main cast: Gong Yoo (Seok-woo), Kim Su-an (Su-an), Jung Yu-mi (Seong-kyeong), Ma Dong-seok (Sang-hwa), Ahn So-hee (Jin-hee), Choi Woo-shik (Young-guk), and Kim Eui-sung (Yong-suk)
Director: Yeon Sang-ho
Maybe it’s the hype, as Train to Busan is touted by what seems like everyone and his mom as a must-see flick. As a fan of this kind of movies, I made myself to go watch it, only to end up unmoved by the whole thing. Perhaps the hype raised my expectations to sky-high levels, or maybe it’s just my bias against Korean movies showing.
The plot is pretty simple. Seok-woo is a very busy man who doesn’t pay much attention to his daughter Su-an, until that daughter guilt-trips him in the most wooden delivery possible – muttering lines like she’s some dyslexic child trying to read out loud from a card held off-screen while under the effects of sedatives – to bring her to visit her mother (Seok-woo’s ex-wife). The train pulls out of the station just in time to avoid zombie rush hour, but one infected passenger manages to get on board. It’s not long before the train ride becomes really hype.
I’m not proud of it, but Korean movies in general don’t appeal to me. A big reason for this is that Korean cinema likes to have their main cast look as impassive as possible, as if everyone wants to resemble that creepy long-haired dead girl cliché in horror movies. Hence, the bulk of the main cast looking dead-eyed here. Gong Yoo is easy on the eyes, but he never displays any credible emotion for a character in his situation. That girl who plays the daughter is the ultimate zombie in this movie – every line is a monotone, and she is as wooden as can be. It doesn’t help that the daughter is a plot device to act up and make things inconvenient for everyone – a smack or two to keep her unconscious throughout the whole movie may have made this one a far more enjoyable movie. Oh, and the melodramatic tears that never fail to get on my nerves – every Korean movie needs plenty of those. The female characters will also be screaming a lot while retaining that dead-eyed look on their faces.
The zombies are of the usual fast-sprinting kind, in this case they are also conveniently unable to detect living beings whenever the plot calls for it. The cast is made up of stereotypes: the idiot, the asshole, the pregnant lady, et cetera. Therefore, there is really nothing new or interesting here, just non-stop sequences of people running away from hilariously athletic and acrobatic zombies. Indeed, as the movie progresses, things start to resemble some fantastical action movie as it focuses more on physics-defying action sequences and explosions than anything else.
I wish I can say that Train to Busan either excites me or makes me cringe, because either would mean that the movie evoked some strong response in me. In truth, I am bored. The movie bores me silly, and I wish I’d not caught it in the theater, as it means that I can’t fast forward through the more boring or annoying bits. Oh well.