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TGRF's Reviews - Train to Busan

Posted June 21st, 2022 at 04:46 PM by The Grim Reaper's Friend
Welcome to another review, this time of a movie. I've reviewed movies before, but never broken them down and rated every part, opting instead to focus on one aspect. This will be a full review, because this movie certainly deserves it.

I've seen Train to Busan twice, and each time I was highly impressed. On the surface it's your average zombie movie, but compared to the other zombie media I've seen (which admittedly isn't a ton), it rises above the rest easily. I wanted to break it down and show why I think that is.

Train to Busan is a Korean movie, so if you watch it, there are subtitles. I thought this would be a detriment in a zombie movie, but I was wrong. Both this and Parasite seem to indicate that if Hollywood doesn't watch out, Korean movies are going to surpass them in quality. Seriously, watch them both.

Ratings:
5: Amazing, above flawless.
4: Flawless, but doesn't really stand out.
3: Might have some issues, but works fine.
2: Has some issues which might detract from the movie.
1: Flawed, bring the movie down noticeably.

Title: Train to Busan
My Rating: 4.67 - A dang good viewing experience

Spoiler-free summary: Train to Busan follows a business man taking his daughter to see her mother in Busan for her birthday. However, as they board the train and depart, the outbreak (which they aren't even aware of) follows them. Soon zombies start appearing on the train, taking it over car by car, and those who recognize what's going on must fight to stay together and stay alive, as the train continues to hurtle past infected cities towards Busan, which they can only hope is still safe...

Acting: 4.5
First off, the acting in this movie is top-notch. All the characters are believable. I can't think of a single one which didn't seem like they really were the person they were portraying. However, the performance by the main character's daughter (played by Su-an Kim) was especially impressive. For being only ten at the time, she truly delivered. The only reason her performance doesn't stand out as much as it should, is because honestly everyone else was acting just as well.

Pacing: 5
Zombie movies can definitely be prone to pacing problems. Audiences expect zombie action, but if you're going to have a movie with any substance at all, you need those slower bits where characters and story are developed. Then there's the trap of extra exposition, where things like outbreak origin, zombification process, and similar things which seem necessary but don't add as much as they should, can slow down the story further.

Train to Busan was, I feel, paced nearly perfectly. It has action scenes and slower scenes, but they compliment each other with perfect ratios, the slow scenes building up the anticipation for the action scenes, and the action scenes delivering on expectations while still working in quality story depth. Now that I think about it, this movie is an excellent example of what to show and what to tell, and how to balance both.

Story: 4.5
Now don't get me wrong. On paper, Trian to Busan is your average zombie movie, with a well-known theme. But it's the combination of the two which makes the movie stand out.

The zombies are nothing new. They're your typical flesh-craving, people-chasing, death-defying monsters. And the theme is nothing new (I won't spoil it). It's a simple character arc we've seen many times before.

But put together, the character arc almost puts the zombies in the back seat, in a good way. It's still a zombie movie, but it feels like it has depth. When you watch it, you feel like you've done more than kill two hours with zombie action. There's a point to the movie, a feeling of satisfaction and resolution you normally don't get with other zombie movies. And that ending, I feel, raises it well above the others I've seen.

Really, that last paragraph sums up the movie nicely. I can't really think of any negatives the movie has. It's just one well-executed scene after another, the actors giving it their all, the story relentlessly making the movie better as it goes.

If you want to see a zombie movie done well, you definitely want to watch Train to Busan. Even if you don't like zombie movies, I'd still recommend it. It's just a good solid movie; something which is becoming increasingly rare these days it seems.

~TGRF.
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