The Film (4.5/5)
I hate the Walking Dead.
There I said it.
I do, however, love zombie films, and because I love zombie films I haven't liked a zombie film in about a decade. I have seen most of the great zombie films from 1932's White Zombie to 1994's Dellamorte Dellamore, and so anything that has come out since barring a few things seems derivative, and dull. Nothing is wrong with being derivative, of course, if you manage to do it in a fun way, but I haven't seen anything I really enjoyed since 28 Days Later or Shaun of the Dead.
This year, however, the South Koreans have come out of the gate with Train to Busan, a film that I can honestly say is the first zombie film I have enjoyed without reservation in well over a decade. The premise is simple, which definitely helps it out. Seok-woo is the overly busy businessman Father of a little girl named Soo-an. He is divorced from Soo-an's Mother, and for reasons not explained (or maybe it is a cultural difference for which I am not aware), he retains custody of the child. It is Soo-an's birthday, and showing his colors as an inattentive Father, he buys her the same present he got her for another holiday months before. What she really wants, however, is to visit her Mother in the distant city of Busan. In order to show his forgiveness, and make things right with his daughter Seok-woo buys tickets on the titular train to Busan, and that's where things go nuts.
A person hops on the train that has been infected by a zombie. At the same time a homeless looking guy who is terrified of things he has recently seen (zombies) also gets on the train and hides out in the bathroom. Within moments while the crew and passengers focus on the homeless fellow, the infected person turns into a zombie, and begins to ravage the train, turning other passengers into zombies in short notice (these zombies run, and turn quickly). This makes the situation in the train itself into a dire situation, and the passengers and crew must band together to survive, however, it's not just the train that's a problem and the cities of South Korea appear to have been infected as well and it's spreading fast.
Train to Busan is a real rapid fire blast of zombie cinema. From the moment the zombie starts attacking on the train, the film is pretty much non-stop for the next hour. At the same it manages to maintain a sense of suspense over the whole situation. The film had a number of set-pieces that literally had me cheering in my home theater, they were THAT AWESOME. There are moments in this film where there are literal tidal waves of zombies in a train.
The film also takes time to build interesting characters that we manage to care about. For a film that moves fast, and hits the ground running, I was surprised by how many deaths ended up impacting me. The only negative I can really throw at the film is, how it seems to switch paths in it's final few minutes tonally into heavy melodrama. I get "why" it did it, and I guess it would feel slightly out of place if it had not, but the heaviness of it really effected the feel of the film as things were wrapping up.
Train to Busan is issued by Well Go in a splendid 1:85:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. It has a very digital look, but it represents the film quite well. Colors are stable and detail is excellent, I did not notice any issues with crush or compression here.
The audio is presented with a DTS-HD MA 7.1 track in Korean with subtitles in English. The track was quite excellent with dialogue and score coming through nicely. I did not detect any issues and separation of sound was excellent.
Well Go included a trailer, short BTS piece, and something called That's A Wrap.
Train to Busan is the best zombie film I've seen in well over a decade. The Blu-ray from Well Go USA looks and sounds splendid, though limited in extras I have to HIGHLY RECOMMEND this one.