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All Aboard the Train to Busan

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The Korean wave continues to hit our shores in full force and has brought with it their interpretation of the zombie apocalypse genre in, “Train to Busan”.

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The film is set in South Korea, and deals with a number of the usual themes which zombie movie buffs will find familiar – The parent-child relationship, the husband and wife, and even the old self-sacrificing person. Of course, there is the requisite pregnant lady that has no trouble running fast enough to get away from the flesh-eating horde.

Your take on whether zombies should be a shambling mob or channelling Usain Bolt will have an effect on your enjoyment of the film. You’ll be treated to sprinting zombies who turn instantly upon being infected, and have a rather strange disabling affliction, which would be a major spoiler should it be revealed here (you can thank me later). An affliction that is neither sensible, nor fully explained in the movie.

You will get what you paid for – A fleeting glimpse of what a world ending epidemic might look like

As with the genre en masse, we find the stereotypical elements in abundant supply, and you won’t be treated to any life-altering realisations about what an apocalypse might entail. Instead, you will get what you paid for – A fleeting glimpse of what a world ending epidemic might look like. This is not a criticism by any means, as it delivers on every aspect of this genre that you already enjoy, and then some.

The movie has its share of tear-jerkers; though if you are one who sympathises with Soo-an’s character, you will assuredly not survive this particular apocalypse. As is the norm with this genre, the central premise is that the epidemic is the result of science gone wrong/mad. It very briefly touches on the issues of quasi-evil institutions putting profits first, coupled with the human price paid by their employees, but doesn’t delve too deeply into these issues.

While unashamedly glorifying the selfless, heroic individual, Train to Busan doesn’t supply the cliched happily-ever-after when it comes to its list of survivors. This is an excellent departure from the trend where even in the face of a theoretically all-pervasive apocalypse, every primary character is eventually saved from any lasting harm, which detracts greatly from the drama and makes a mockery of the time and money you invested watching the film. Instead, it deals with the very real themes of loss and difficult choices one might face in the event of a world ending catastrophe.

Being both graphic and heart-wrenching, you will be glued to the screen through to the very end. In conclusion, the film has a number of noticeable flaws such as the build-up to the actual content of the film will seem unnecessarily long, and an ending which seems like a wasted opportunity to tell a better story. Nevertheless, the film will be extremely satisfying to fans of the genre despite the obligatory product placements. It’s a definite must-watch for those who are already infected with the love of all things zombie and/or Korean, as well as those looking for a movie with a little bit of extra ‘bite’.

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