Train to Busan Blu-ray Review
Blu-ray released by Well Go USA
Written and directed by Sang-ho Yeon
2016, 118 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on January 17th, 2017
Yoo Gong as Seok Woo
Soo-an Kim as Soo-an
Yu-mi Jung as Sung Gyeong
Dong-seok Ma as Sang Hwa
Woo-sik Choi as Young Gook
Ahn Sohee as Jun-hee
It’s hard to believe there was once a time when the zombie was considered the unloved step-child of the horror community. Legendary director George A. Romero could be counted on to deliver a fresh installment of his “living dead” series once every decade, but with the exception of a bunch of Italian knock-offs, he sat alone in his cinematic kingdom. Night of the Living Dead (1968), Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985) set the standard for what audiences expected from these flesh-eating ghouls. Dan O’Bannon’s The Return of the Living Dead (1985) provided the subgenre a much-needed shot in the arm with his comedic spin on the material. This picture introduced the idea that zombies craved brains, gave them a voice and allowed them to move at speeds much quicker than Romero’s traditional creeping shuffle. The genre was reinvigorated once again with Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later (2002), a fast-paced infection thriller that helped unleash a zombie epidemic on unsuspecting viewers like never before. These undead creatures now dominate cinemas, television, comic books and video games with little sign of their popularity slowing.
Writer/ director Sang-ho Yeon (Seoul Station) made a name for himself in the realm of animated features and transitions to live-action genre filmmaking with Train to Busan. His keen eye for dynamic storytelling is perfectly realized with the assistance of cinematographer Hyung-deok Lee (A Company Man), as together they create a visually stunning picture that audiences will find both terrifying and energizing. His script is deceptively simple, as it follows the traditional disaster movie setup where a variety of characters are introduced in different scenarios before bringing them all together onto the same speeding Bullet train. Chief among the passengers are Seok Woo (Yoo Gong), a workaholic father taking his young daughter (Soo-an Kim) to celebrate her birthday with a trip to see his estranged wife. An injured woman jumps aboard as the train leaves the station and when confronted by a porter, she attacks in a bloody rage that leaves them both raving like maniacs, attacking their fellow passengers now trapped in the moving coach. Local news reports show the military responding to outbreaks of extreme violence all across the country, suggesting this is going to be a bumpy ride.
Train to Busan is a fast moving tale that builds speed as a small group of passengers finds new and inventive ways to evade the growing threat as they push their way through the compartments in hopes of reaching the next stop. Sang-ho Yeon proves a master of suspense as he continues to increase the tension from one sequence to the next. He knows when to put on the brakes and allow audiences to catch their breath before doubling down with a new wave of bloody chaos more violent than its predecessor. The script introduces many new elements to classic zombie tropes and explores how the creatures respond to different stimuli. Romero fans will appreciate the subtle doses of social commentary, but the main goal of this picture is action and entertainment. There is a lot to like in this movie and even with a running time of nearly two hours, audiences will never notice the length of their commute.
Video and Audio:
Train to Busan receives a gorgeous video transfer presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Colors are quite strong and black levels are solid with plenty of small-object detail. The only flaw in this picture is the clarity presented to some of the lesser digital effects.
The 7.1 DTS-X audio mix is aggressive with a real workout given to the surround speakers, and not just during the numerous action set pieces. The film is presented in the original Korean language with English subtitles provided. An English language dub is included, but I cannot recommend it, as I am a shameless cinema-snob.
A brief making-of (13 minutes) piece delivers a glimpse behind the scenes with a collection of footage shot on location during production.
That’s a Wrap (5 minutes) provides traditionally enthusiastic comments from key cast members at the end of the shoot, but offers little insight.
The original theatrical trailer is also included.