Suspenseful zombie ride on Train To Busan

Gong Yoo plays a businessman in Train To Busan, where a virus outbreak turns passengers into zombies.
Gong Yoo plays a businessman in Train To Busan, where a virus outbreak turns passengers into zombies.PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES

REVIEW / THRILLER

TRAIN TO BUSAN (NC16)

119 minutes/Opens tomorrow/3.5/5 stars

The story: Divorced workaholic Seok Woo (Gong Yoo) agrees to take his neglected daughter Su An (Kim Soo An) from Seoul to Busan to visit her mother as a birthday gift. Their train ride soon descends into chaos when there is an outbreak of a virus that turns the passengers into crazed zombies.

With so many zombie flicks already on television and in cinemas, it is remarkable that South Korean director Yeon Sang Ho has managed to make one that feels fresh.

Keeping most of the action on a bullet train, the film-maker behind acclaimed animated films such as The King Of Pigs (2011) delivers some truly imaginative and tense set pieces in his debut live-action film, as the passengers try all ways to defeat the zombies within the confines of train cabins.

The movie is all the more suspenseful given how crazily fast the zombies here move and repopulate - these are not the slow, shuffling types seen in The Walking Dead, but more like the rabid ones in World War Z (2013) and 28 Days Later (2002).

Things move along quickly enough to keep audiences entertained and, perhaps, forgetting that most of the human characters here are so underdeveloped.

Most memorable of this sad lot is not leading man Gong Yoo's cliched dapper businessman, but his scenestealing daughter, played by a fantastic Kim Soo An, 10, who never goes overboard even when she has to bawl in complete fear.

A pity, then, that the thriller derails in the last 30 minutes when it moves into soap-opera territory.

A lot of hysterical shouting and crying is involved, coupled with an unnecessary flashback to happier times for the family.

A ludicrous stunt off the side of a train at the end, which uses CGI that looks like it was ripped off from Mission: Impossible (1996), undoes the good work the film-maker achieved with a lot of the previous action that had felt realistic and achievable by human beings.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2016, with the headline 'Suspenseful zombie ride on Train To Busan'. Print Edition | Subscribe