Writer/director Sang-ho Yeon’s 2016 movie Train To Busan introduces us to a business man named Seok-woo (Yoo Gong). Recently divorced, he has custody of his young daughter, Soo-an (Soo-an Kim), who is celebrating her birthday. Seok-woo comes home with a Wii for her, unaware that she’s already got one. He’s clearly been putting his work ahead of his daughter, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the little girl who wants only one thing as her gift – to go to Busan and visit with her mother.
Realizing he’s screwed up, Seok-woo gets them tickets on the KTX high speed rail line that will travel from Seoul to Busan quite quickly. It should be simple, really. Once the train leaves the station, however, things quickly take a downward spiral. One of the hostesses on the train is bitten by an infected girl and before you know it, a full on zombie plague has broken out on the train. The first station that the train arrives at isn’t safe, so soon everyone onboard – the high school baseball team, the pregnant woman and her mouthy husband and the selfish businessman in his three piece suit – all realize that if they’re going to survive this, they can’t count on being rescued.
As the train gets closer to Busan, the outbreak spreads and soon only a handful of survivors are left – will they make it? And once they get to Busan, will it even matter or has the outbreak spread farther than any of them realize?
Blending the train setting of something like Snowpiercer with the fast moving zombies of 28 Days Later (yeah, these zombies ‘turn’ very quickly and once they do, they move like all-star athletes not like shambling corpses), Train To Busan takes about twenty-minutes to hit its stride and then spends the next hour and forty minutes ramping up tension. It does what it does quite well, and while this might not be a particularly original concept, it uses the train setting to create some interesting set pieces and offering up a few interesting characters, both good and bad, to help add some drama to the proceedings. The movie overdoes it a bit with the finish, heading straight first into corny melodrama, but aside from that, this works quite well.
The special effects are pretty solid and the performances are solid across the board. There’s enough style here to keep the movie looking good but not so much that it overshadows the storyline or the characters. It might not be particularly deep but it is will made, really fast pace and at times remarkably tense.
Train To Busan looks great on a 50GB Blu-ray disc in this AVC encoded 1.85.1 widescreen 1080p high definition transfer from Well Go USA. Depth is impressive here as is the color reproduction. There are no problems with compression artifacts and detail is generally strong throughout, though some scenes which use heavy CGI aren't quite as sharp looking as others. Some minor banding is noticeable here and there but it's not ever to the point where it becomes distracting. Skin tones look lifelike, black levels are strong and there are no noticeable problems with compression artifacts. Texture is great, you can really soak up a lot of the intricacies of the costumes used in the movie, and all in all the movie looks very good in high definition on this release.
The primary audio option on this disc is a Korean language DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio track, though an English language dubbed option is also available in the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. Dolby Digital Stereo tracks are also provided in English and Korean. Subtitles are provided in English only. Getting back to that Korean language lossless track, it sounds really good. The film makes great use of the surround channels, especially during the action scenes, so expect a good amount of sound effects to zip past you in addition to some great directionality in terms of how the score is used here. Dialogue stays clean and clear, the subtitles are easy to read and free of any typographical errors, and the levels are properly balanced throughout. All in all, this is a very lively and active mix and a very enjoyable one at that.
Extras are start off with a thirteen minute long Behind The Scenes piece that is quite interesting as it shows how sets were used to create the illusion that everything is happening on an actual train. We also get a look at the stunts and some of the actors and actresses taking direction, a few scenes being blocked and more. A second featurette, entitled That’s A Wrap, runs four and a half minutes and it shows off more behind the scenes footage before then offering up some interviews with Yoo Gong after principal photography had finished up and some candid moments with the cast and crew.
The disc also includes a trailer for the feature and trailers for a few other Well Go USA properties. A foil embossed cardboard slipcover is included and inside the Blu-ray keepcase there’s an insert advertising a few other Well Go USA releases.
The Final Word:
Train To Busan is fast paced and entertaining, which helps to make up for some of the heavy handed melodrama that the film pushes on its audience. Fans of modern zombie films should appreciate this, and the movie earns some bonus points for trying something a little different within the genre. Well Go USA’s Blu-ray looks and sounds great and contains a few supplements to round out the package nicely.
Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!