The un­dead are born again

TRAIN TO BU­SAN ★★★★ Di­rected by Yeon Sang-ho. Star­ring Gong Yoo, Ma Dong-seok, Jung Yu-mi, Kim Su-an, Kim Eui-sung, Choi Woo-shik, Ahn So-hee. Club, Light House Cin­ema, D7, 118mins

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARA BRADY

Seok-woo (Gong Yoo), a di­vorced fund man­ager and dis­tant dad, takes his young daugh­ter Soo-an (Kim Su-an) to see her mother in Bu­san as a birth­day gift.

On board the high-speed train, we en­counter two squab­bling, el­derly sis­ters, a gre­gar­i­ous bruiser and his heav­ily preg­nant wife, a self-serv­ing ex­ec­u­tive, a lively gang of teenagers, and a young wo­man with a bite wound, who soon pounces on an at­ten­dant.

Be­fore you know it, a plucky group of sur­vivors – in­clud­ing Yoo and Su-an – are at­tempt­ing to hold fast against an en­croach­ing horde of zom­bies. Will they ever get to Bu­san? And has Bu­san fallen to the same cat­a­strophic in­fec­tion?

Al­most 60 years since Ge­orge A Romero’s Night of the Liv­ing Dead made its bow, and some seven sea­sons deep into The Walking Dead, one would imag­ine that the zom­bie apoca­lypse sub-genre is surely run­ning out of fresh brains.

Nar­ra­tively speak­ing, Train to Bu­san, forms a pleas­ing, if fa­mil­iar shape. Its mild-man­nered, of­fice-bound hero has to get vi­o­lent and re­source­ful, while learn­ing that per­haps his daugh­ter is more im­por­tant than his job and that maybe, just maybe, peo­ple are more im­por­tant than profit.

Un­likely al­liances are formed be­tween work­ing-class he­roes and their fi­nan­cial bet­ters. There are echoes of Snow­piercer in the film’s de­pic­tion of so­ci­etal col­lapse. The SFX are very post- World War Z.

But, as with Romero’s still-peer­less orig­i­nal, Train to Bu­san in­fects its zom­bie DNA

with a keen so­cial and po­lit­i­cal aware­ness. Di­rec­tor Yeon Sang-ho is best known for the fes­ti­val-cir­cuit an­ime favourites The King of Pigs and The

Fake, which sim­i­larly worked weighty themes and plot­lines into car­toon­ish forms.

Pay at­ten­tion for this new, wildly en­ter­tain­ing B-movie is the most nu­anced mon­ster movie since Bong Joon-ho’s

The Host (2006). Its whiteknuckle chases and gory wounds speak to cor­po­rate re­spon­si­bil­ity, xeno­pho­bia and the new neo-lib­eral class strug­gle.

Never mind the flesh feast­ers: gaze in hor­ror as a priv­i­leged few refuse to open the door to other sur­vivors. Hu­man­ity may be worth sav­ing, sug­gests di­rec­tor Yeon Sang-ho, but hu­man be­ings mostly suck. No won­der Soo-an (the ex­cel­lent Kim Su-an) cries all the way to the tragic de­noue­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.