Train to Busan is a korean film directed by yeon Sang-ho. I went into this film with very little known about the film. I actually thought it would be about a historical train incident (like the Captain Phillips or Sully of South Korea). This was very surprising considering that 20 minutes into the film, I discovered that this was in fact a zombie thriller. The film explores very little of the zombie outbreak’s origins, but goes through lengths to depict the zombies with an incredible amount of detail and craft. Everything from the motion of the zombies to their frenzy is very well done. The story has very distinct acts that don’t make it constantly feel like a runaway zombie movie, and the characters are ones you can empathize with: pregnant women, children, teenagers, and the elderly.
The story centers around Seok-woo, who is an investment banker who fails to tend to his daughter's true needs (He buys her a Wii twice because he forgets he got her one the first time). His daughter’s only wish is to be taken to her mother in Busan, which they take via train (hence the title: Train to Busan). With the exception of perhaps depicting Korea’s high-tech KTX transit as well as high susceptibility to a zombie outbreak due to how crowded the country is, there remains very little that can be brought into the classroom from an educational standpoint. Perhaps, there’s the elements of heroism and redemption in Seok-woo’s character, who (spoiler alert) sacrifices himself to allow for his daughter to live. Or perhaps, an analysis of ethics could be made through the self-sacrifice and self-serving nature of people who find themselves in this situation. But, where this film can truly stand out in American classrooms is providing visibility to korean actors as well as empathy for people from all ethnicities. The film depicts people in their baser emotions, which is something that all people have in common. If you’ve ever seen shows like Lost or The Walking Dead, this is a common theme among survival shows - where regardless of where we came from, we are very much human in the end and that transcends much of our political, economic and social differences.
Train to Busan: 8/10