If Korean authors are to be believed, the world does not end with a bang, but with a whistling train. In Bong Joon-Ho’s “Snowpiercer” (and its subsequent TV remake), the last remnants of humanity board a train that circles the world; in “Train to Busan” by “Hellbound” director Yeon Sang-Ho, a father, his estranged daughter and countless others are trapped on a high-speed railroad during a zombie outbreak in Korea . But where Joon-Ho’s film uses rail transport to eviscerate age-old classism, âTrain to Busanâ initially seems to just bombard you with quick and scary things, and leave it at that.
But there is actually more than that. Much more. Much like “Hellbound” is concerned with what makes life worth living, “Train to Busan” celebrates what makes humans noble. It is no coincidence that no one survives âTrain to Busanâ without the sacrifices of others; it is deliberate that the panic turns the characters in the film into monsters, living or not. It’s the dichotomies between self-immolation and indebtedness, disgrace and dignity that remind audiences why the train is such a powerful setting for Sang-Ho’s film.
As anyone who’s ever been on the rails can tell you, a long train journey reminds you that we, the passengers of life, are all in the same boat, until we are not. It’s a shared thesis of âHellboundâ and âTrain to Busan,â and if you’ve seen the first but not the last, now’s a great time to tweak that.