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Quick Korean zombies take 'Train to Busan' for station-to-station action

Quick Korean zombies take 'Train to Busan' for station-to-station action
Ma Dong-seok in the Korean horror movie "Train To Busan." (WellGo USA)

It's chew-chew on the choo-choo with "Train to Busan," a Korean zombie flick from Yeon Sang-ho ("The King of Pigs") that has more in common with high-speed disaster films and train thrillers than slow-walking undead sagas. Animator Yeon's first feature-length live-action movie takes its sweet time establishing its core besieged characters — namely a workaholic divorced dad (Gong Yoo) and the neglected daughter (Kim Su-an) he's taking to visit mom — before they board at Seoul for the trek to Busan, as hints of unrest and "workers' strikes" percolate ominously on nearby screens.

When the one infected passenger who sneaks aboard becomes many, the drama of group dynamics takes over, as Irwin Allen decreed it. Yeon gets a lot of mileage — comic and tragic — out of the dwindling survivors' reactions. But the key to the fun is that Yeon eschews lookie-loo gore for thrilling set pieces: his fleet, imaginative action scenes recall Brad Bird's crisp transition to real people in peril when he made his "Mission Impossible" movie.

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Yeon's zombies are a quick-turning, fierce horde who aren't smart enough to open an unlocked compartment door, but they move faster than blazes and clump like bees if necessary. Though there's plenty of emotion as loved ones succumb to that awful bite, "Train to Busan" is really a feast for the scary, gymnastic bit players: contorting their bodies, baring teeth and running full bore. On this express, they're a first-class menace indeed.

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'Train to Busan'

In Korean with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 58 minutes

Playing: CGV Cinemas, Koreatown

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