Train to Busan Review: Still Worth Watching in Cinemas?

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When I first saw The Straits Times report about Train to Busan being number one at Singapore box office yesterday, I was like, Isn’t that an old movie? I mean, if I’m tasked to write a movie review now, I would have written recent movies I’ve watched like Lights Out or Suicide Squad (which I did write here).

I remember watching Train to Busan after one of my colleagues told me how good it was even before it was out (here and here). That day (like, weeks ago?!), I was pretty shocked that the hall—in fact, a pretty ulu one in Clementi—was fully packed. I went in without much expectation—the last zombie movie I’ve watched was Cell, and it sucked so much that it got a 0% approval rating in Rotten Tomatoes.

Train to Busan isn’t unlike any Hollywood zombie movies, whereby the characters shot zombies with guns and the climax occurred when they ran out of bullets. In a country that has strict gun laws just like Singapore, you won’t see the characters retrieving sub-machines and shotguns from abandoned houses, and that makes it refreshing, because the only weapons they had were their fists and the occasional baseball bats. The plot of the movie is simple; in fact, too simple. It’s about a group of people trying to survive as they’re in a train to

The plot of the movie is simple; in fact, too simple. It’s about a group of people trying to survive as they’re in a train to Busan, when the entire nation is struck by an unknown infection that turns people into fast-moving, but brainless, zombies.

What makes the movie shine is the characterization: each character’s motivations are clearly defined through their actions, and they’ll make you love or hate the character. Take for instance one of the bad guys—in order to survive, he discards his conscience completely, causing each viewer to pray that he’ll be bitten soon. The first fifteen minutes or so are pretty slow-paced, as if a warm-up to the fast-paced action later on. The moment you see the first zombie, the movie took a drastic U-turn and you’ll be at the edge of your seat for the rest of the movie, because zombies will take over the screen so much that you almost wonder whether the person sitting beside you will bite you the next minute. Zombies flick rely a lot on jump scares, and if you’re looking to be scared, this isn’t for you.

Train to Busan is an action flick, almost like how Resident Evil has evolved from “jump-scare-packed” to “action-packed”.  So, is it a movie worth watching? If you’re like me who focuses a lot on the plot, then you might be disappointed because you won’t expect plot twists or that “wah” factor. But if you just want to while your time away with a big tub of popcorn, then it’s the movie to watch this weekend (because, well, I’ve watched all other movies available now and they all really CMI seh).

My verdict will be a 3 out of 5 stars—watch it, but don’t watch it in Gold Class (not that it’s available, anyway).

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