(by TRICIA MAE MALICDEM, ABM – 1 Student from Mangaldan National High School, Pangasinan)
You probably have heard of the new zombie film called “Train to Busan” and you may or may not know that it is actually the first zombie movie of South Korea. But what’s more interesting is the fact that it has an audience record of an increasing number of over 10 million theatergoers despite the fact that the whole film was in Korean! Well of course subtitles were used throughout the movie but still this is an astonishing feat.
I myself do not have any interest in zombie films and I did not even have the slightest motivation to go and watch the film. And yet in one way or another, my older sister, who is hyped about anything South Korean and a zombie enthusiast, eventually convinced me to watch Train to Busan with her. And for the very first time I am so glad that she did because I can say that this zombie film gave me a whole level of respect for this genre. This movie was definitely not just a zombie film, it had something else.
The story started with a quite realistic scenario. Father and daughter, Seok-Woo (Gong Yoo) and Soo-An (Kim Soo-Ahn), are not getting along well with each other. Because of her parent’s circumstances and the fact that Seok-Woo is a busy fund manager in Seoul, Soo-An can’t help but feel lonely. On the night before her birthday, Soo-An insists on seeing her mother for her birthday even if she had to go alone. Seok-Woo did not permit this idea and had no choice but to go with her. So early the next morning, they board the KTX train for Busan at Seoul Station. However just before the KTX train leaves Seoul Station, a zombie infected girl jumps onto the train. With an infected on board and the horrible virus spreading like wildfire Seok-Woo, Soo-An and the other passengers on the KTX train must now battle and risk their lives on a journey that they could never have imagined.
That thought alone is already quite horrible for me but it’s different for others, they find it exciting. I expected rotting bodies, blood splatters and gut sinking gore scenes just like any other zombie film that my sister forced me to watch with her. And yes they were definitely shown but it was in a level that I can tolerate and the gore scenes were not overdone yet still remained the thrilling adrenaline rush.
In terms of movie aspects, the part that really had an impact on me the most was how great everyone’s acting was and how it was executed. From the main actors down to the mindless zombies, all of them really did a great job. The zombies were most definitely frightening not just because of their gruesome looks but as well as they were really fast and were literally sprinting compared to zombies on other zombie films in general who were very wobbly and slow. Aside from the lovable main and second main characters, Yong-Suk who is a businessman and that one character that everyone hated was also played very well by Kim Ui-Seong. So much that the movie theater would be filled with countless profanity almost whenever he was shown. Let us not forget the tear jerking scenes which really shook me and I swear that if it were not because of my sister bawling in the corner of her seat, which for me was quite hilarious, I would have shed endless tears.
Speaking of tear jerking scenes, the background track music really played an important part in making the scenes more effective. It really sets the mood for the variety of scenes showed whether it was action packed, slow paced, suspense, heart wrenching, etc. It also emphasized the rollercoaster of emotions felt throughout the film where a tear jerking scene can suddenly turn into an action packed scene and vice versa. Out of all the background track music, two particular pieces really captured my heart. They are “Goodbye World”, an amazingly moving piano piece, and “Aloha Oe.”
Goodbye World really gave a lasting impact on me the most. Even though more than a week has already passed once I play it, my tears would start falling. On the other hand, Aloha Oe was really a major punch back to my childhood because of the cartoon series “Lilo and Stitch”. I really appreciate the use of Aloha Oe in the movie and as well as what it symbolized.
However even with all of these, I still cannot help but find some possibly “lacking” aspects of the movie. One of which was the lack of character background which for me was actually quite understandable since the plot was focused on the actual process of survival rather than each of the character’s personal issues. Another example is the lack of information about the zombie virus. The movie did not elaborate the actual reason on how and why this horrible virus spread throughout the mass.
I was not quite content with the ending as well. My speculations increased on what the life of the survivors would be, what they felt after all of that, the people who are living in Busan and much more. Fortunately, there was actually an additional piece of film entitled “Seoul Station” which is said to be the continuation of the movie.
And allow me to say this again, Train to Busan is certainly not just any other zombie film. Its connection to reality was very special and left me thinking deeper than I ever thought I would in a zombie film even more than the popular zombie movie “Warm Bodies”. Setting the zombie ordeal aside, I was left with the impression of pure human emotions. Like how we humans can be consumed by fear and greed which was shown by the passengers of the train where their own life was seen to be “more important” than the life of other passengers; how our unconditional love for our family proved to be so powerful enough to make very big sacrifices which was shown through numerous heart wrenching deaths; and how us humans progress and change for the better as we strive to make connections with other people’s hearts. There are actually a lot more but for now I’ll leave the rest for you my dear readers to think about it.
Overall, Train to Busan totally blew up all of my concerns on the fact that it is a zombie film even though the concept is not new to us, it showed a unique and refreshing take on this genre and I absolutely came to adore it! It even proved to me that the film is not just about gore and thrills that you would normally expect on this kind of genre, it gave me even more than that.
I highly recommend it to everyone not just zombie enthusiasts but as well as my fellow “scaredy cats” and people who cannot take on gore to give this movie a chance. I assure you, your time will not be wasted and I hope it will give you a better outlook on life. I also encourage the people who may have already watched this movie to give it a much deeper outlook and meaning on what the movie is trying to convey to us. 10/10 would watch it again!