Train to Busan
Character development in literary and visual production is crucial in determining the plot of the story. The film director, Yeon Sang-ho has perfectly achieved this concept in his movie, ‘Train to Busan.’ The movie can be categorized as an action-thriller film, as it focuses on human attempts to fight against zombies. Sang-ho introduces literary monsters (zombies) who terrify the whole city by attacking people and turning them into zombies. This article critically explores the undead, their personalities and influence in the Train to Busan (Yeon, 2017).
Prior to the crisis, life in the city appears to be normal with business activities, social life and political life continuing as usual. Sang-ho introduces Seok-woo, a busy funds manager and a divorced man living with his daughter Suan. At first, Seok-woo is too busy to attend his daughter’s recitation event, but he later turns out to be the main protagonist in the movie as the plot continues. Sang-ho also introduces other characters such as Sang-hwa, a working class fellow with an expecting wife, Seong-kyeong. Other characters of interest are Yon-suk, a CEO with selfish interests, two sisters In-gil and Jon-gil and a homeless man who appears stressed up (Yeon, 2017).
The crisis begins unsuspectingly when a truck driver knocks down a deer near a biochemical quarantine zone. Surprisingly, the deer comes back to life but its eyes are astonishingly milky. Seok-woo meets media reports about ‘Mysterious Fish Deaths’ but he does not give it keen interest due to his busy schedule. Signs of a devastating virus are witnessed in the environment but no one seems to give it keen interest. The crisis escalates when Seok-woo grudgingly consents to his daughter’s birthday wish to visit her mother in Busan. Together with other passengers, the Seok-woo and his daughter board a high-speed KTX train headed to Busan from a station in Seoul. They board the train with one particular woman having an infected leg, with signs of a bite. She turns into a zombie and becomes responsible for the viral infection inside the train. The infection turns humans to zombies who crave to spread the infection by biting other non-affected people (Kermode, 2018).
The infection in the bullet train begins when the woman attacks a train attendant. The attendant turns into a monster with milky eyes and sharp vampire-like canines. The train attendant who has been turned into a zombie, and the woman get into a spree to spread the virus in that car. The zombies become violent and aggressive in biting other passengers. Several passengers manage to escape for their lives, including Yon-suk and Jin-hee. Other passengers fail in their attempt to escape. They try in vain to escape to other cars which are free from the zombie virus. However, as the affected people crave for human blood, their violence increase as they fight to bite more and more. When media reports announce the crisis of zombie outbreaks and attacks throughout the country, it hits other passengers on board that all is not well. The tension further heightens when the passengers learn that their train is also under attack (Yeon, 2017).
As the train halts at Daejeon station, the panicking passengers alight from the train. They, however, becomes more terrified when they realize that the whole station is full of zombies. Chaos and tension fills the station as the alighting passengers retreat to the train under attack. To them, the train is a better option compared to the state of the station. in the mix-up, Seok-woo loses touch of his daughter Suan, and Sang-hwa also separates with his expectant wife, Seong-kyeong. Yong-guk also gets separated from his elder sister, In-gil. The train conductor hastily restarts the train and the journey continues (Kermode, 2018).
The three characters, Seok-woo, Sang-hwa and Yong-guk embark on a mission to rescue their loved ones amid the terror in the train as most terrified passengers stuff themselves in the front train car for shelter. They struggle through hordes of zombies in the train cars as they try to find their way through. A bloody battle with zombies ensue. Sang-ho develops the zombies as human monsters scary to look at, having sharp protruding canines and milky eyes with impaired vision. The zombies are limited in that they cannot see in the dark. Therefore, when the train passes through a dark tunnel, their vision is affected. In such instances, the zombies rely on sound and scent to navigate their way. Furthermore, the zombies are also slow in their physical motion, violent, and feed on human flesh. The zombies fight to bite and infect many people with the virus. In effect, the train turns into a zombie train as more people get affected (Yeon, 2017).
Yon-suk demands that other passengers may open the car door for them, but the survivors object in fear that they have been turned into zombies. As he continues to persuade the survivors and struggling to open the door to the car, much time is wasted. The zombies in their car continue to cause destruction. As the process continue, Sang-hwa and In-gil voluntarily sacrifice themselves to be bitten by the zombies in order to save lives of other passengers and give them more time to forcefully open the door. The two manifest selflessness amid the crisis. More people get attacked by zombies and the infection spreads further (Yeon, 2017).
Afterwards, Yon-suk instructs the newcomers to isolate themselves inside the vestibule. He also instructs other passengers to follow him. Jong-gil opens the door intentionally for other zombies to enter their car and join In-jil, her zombified sister. Jong-gil’s move is intentional and anger driven due to Yon-suk’s selfishness in restricting other passengers from joining the safe car. The zombies entering the train car end up killing and eating all the passengers hiding in the car. The passengers hiding in the vestibule survives the attack. These include Seok-woo, Seong-keong, Suan, Jin-hee, Yong-guk, and the homeless man. In the face of terror, Yon-suk and the train attendant flee for their safety, to hide in the bathroom. Terror increases as the train becomes bloody with killings and zombie attacks. The few survivors shrink in fear for their lives as zombie attacks advance more and more in the train.
The journey gets halted at the East Daegu station due to a blocked railway track. As the zombies search for more survivors to kill, the few surviving passengers force their way out to board another train. Due to fear and panic, Seok-woo, Suan, Seong-kyeong, and the homeless man get separated from Jin-hee and Yong-guk. When the zombies get to where Yong-suk and the train attendant are hiding, Yong-suk pushes the train attendant who was hiding with him to be killed by the zombies. Yong-suk demonstrates his selfishness in surviving at the expense of other people’s blood. Afterwards, Yong-suk pushes Jin-hee to the zombies to be killed, just as he had done with the train attendant. Jin-hee turns into a zombie and she attacks Yong-suk and bite him. In this context, the zombies are presented as vengeful beings, with emotions.
The train conductor quickly restarts the train following a different track. As he tries to save Yon-suk, the zombies kill and maul him. In the chaotic scene, the homeless man distracts the zombies by sacrificing his life to let Seong-kyeong, Suan and Seok-woo escape into the train cabin. The homeless man gets killed in the process as the three survivors escape (Kermode, 2018).
Inside the train cabin, the three survivors meet with Yong-suk, who was gradually turning into a zombie. Since Yong-suk unsuccessfully fought to prevent his attack, to the point of sacrificing other people to survive, he becomes determined to ensure that the remaining three passengers also get infected. As Yong-suk launches an attack, he meets resistance from Seok-woo, the remaining male survivor. Seok-woo fights Yong-suk to shield his daughter and Seong-kyeong from the zombie attack. The battle does not auger well with Seok-woo as he gets bitten by Yong-suk in the process. Seok-woo’s reactive response is by getting hold of Yong-suk and throwing him out of the moving locomotive (Yeon, 2017).
Seok-woo’s love for his daughter Suan does not make him heartless even after contracting the zombie virus. Instead of launching attacks on the two survivors as did many zombies, Seok-woo surprisingly puts the two inside the engine room and instructs Seong-kyeong on how to stop the train. As he gets transformed into a zombie, Seok-woo gives his last fatherly words to his daughter, Suan. The scene becomes emotional as Seok-woo recalls the first time he lovingly embraced his daughter. With a smile on his face, Seok-woo jumps off outside the locomotive. The journey to Busan continues, and only two survivors alight from the train, Seong-kyeong and Suan. They meet soldiers stationed strategically to keep of zombies. The soldiers nearly open fire for fear of zombie arrival (Kermode, 2018).
The movie agrees with the general concept that zombies are monsters which desire to inflict terror and pain upon human beings. Sang-ho achieves this concept through the use of characters such the woman who entered the train and spread the infection, the first train attendant to be attacked, the many passenger-turned-zombies, In-gil, Jon-gil and Yong-suk. These evil characters are determined to spread the infection further. On the other hand, Sang-ho also develops another concept of friendly monsters who do not devour their loved ones through the use of characters such as Seok-woo (Yeon, 2017).
Kermode, M. (2018, March 21). Train to Busan review: a nonstop zombie thrill ride. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/oct/30/train-to-busan-review-nonstop-thrill-ride-zombiesYeon, S. (2017). Train to Busan. Köln: Splendid Film
Fear Needs No Translation: Eat Your Heart Out – An Analysis of ‘Train to Busan? (2018, April 4). Retrieved from https://lewislitjournal.wordpress.com/2018/02/28/eat-your-heart-out-an-introduction-to-fear-needs-no-translation-and-a-review-of-train-to-busan/Train to Busan. (2018, September 16). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Train_to_Busan#Critical_responseA Reaction Paper: “Train to Busan” (2016, September 18). Retrieved from https://chlxecanoblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/18/train-to-busan/