Train to Busan review – Korean zombies-on-a-train movie is a terrific ride

Yeon Sang-ho’s live-action debut delivers on its delicious premise, as a father and his daughter have to survive carriages of the enraged undead

An unimpeachable mega-hit in its native Korea, Yeon Sang-ho’s horror-thriller floats a delicious premise – zombies on a train – delivered on several times over. Its pleasures are as much logistical as visceral: after a biotech leak, our hero – callow financier Seok, shepherding a young daughter towards an estranged wife – is confronted by the old Southern Rail trains problem of how to navigate entire carriages of violently enraged shufflers (one hint: luggage racks). Making his live-action debut, Yeon – who animated 2011’s memorably grim The King of Pigs – stages thumping close-quarters action, but also manages numerous deft, affecting manoeuvres with characters drawn from a cross-section of Korean society. We’re bound for an extraordinary rail-yard finale that involves seemingly half the country’s population and a living-versus-undead dust-up atop a runaway loco, but Yeon keeps us guessing until the nervy closing seconds. It’s a delayed arrival, but here, finally, is the summer blockbuster for which we’ve all been waiting.


Mike McCahill

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter review – more dull and deafening antics
Milla Jovovich returns for yet another high-impact action thriller set in a zombified world dripping with yucky horror-violence

Peter Bradshaw

02, Feb, 2017 @10:15 PM

Article image
Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies review – snowy zomcom splatfest
Trapped snowboarders try to escape the ski-based zombie apocalypse in this gruesome, if spirited, horror complete with not-very-special special effects

Alan Evans

27, Oct, 2016 @7:55 PM

Article image
Cockneys vs Zombies – review
Forget the cockneys – it's the care-home residents who put up the most impressive zombie resistance, writes Phelim O'Neill

Phelim O'Neill

30, Aug, 2012 @9:30 PM

Article image
Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead review – zombies. Ketchup. More zombies
Crowdfunded Aussie horror flick with more energy than ideas. But it at least has an undead character called Neville

Mike McCahill

07, May, 2015 @8:14 PM

Article image
Train to Busan review – a nonstop zombie thrill ride
Social satire competes with melodrama and gore into this frenetic South Korean horror movie about a rail-borne plague

Mark Kermode, Observer film critic

30, Oct, 2016 @9:00 AM

Article image
Redcon-1 review – zombie bloodbath can't keep the infectious fun alive
Chee Keong Cheung brings a fanboyish glee to a gory post-apocalyptic rescue tale that flatlines after a promising premise

Mike McCahill

28, Sep, 2018 @9:00 AM

Article image
The Girl With All the Gifts review – creepy but confused zombie thriller
Gemma Arterton and Glenn Close grace the cast in this post-apocalyptic horror, but its atmosphere is punctured by stock cliches and am-dram gurning

Peter Bradshaw

22, Sep, 2016 @9:45 PM

Article image
Cell review – Stephen King zombie satire lacks a pulse
John Cusack and Samuel L Jackson are phoning it in as survivors of a crisis that turns mobile users into mindless grunts

Peter Bradshaw

25, Aug, 2016 @9:15 PM

Article image
Seoul Station review – social realism infects animated zombie prequel
The prequel to Train to Busan is a more downbeat affair – a social satire with political ideas and a nasty conclusion

Gwilym Mumford

17, Mar, 2017 @7:15 AM

Article image
Little Monsters review – school-trip kids teach zombies a lesson
A bunch of children led by teacher Lupita Nyong’o tackle a marauding army of the undead in this enjoyably silly zomcom

Peter Bradshaw

14, Nov, 2019 @11:00 AM