Director of South Korean horror film ‘Train to Busan’ planning Chinese-style zombie movie

By Chen Xi Source: Global Times Published: 2020/7/12 19:43:58 Last Updated: 2020/7/12 10:43:58

Yeon Sang-ho Photo: Sina Weibo

South Korean film director Yeon Sang-ho's planned Chinese zombie movie might contribute to film cooperation between China and South Korea amid the coronavirus, Chinese film experts said on Sunday.

In an interview with media on Friday, Yeon said that after watching many Chinese films featuring jiangshi - a reanimated corpse whose stiff jumping movements have led to it being called a "hopping vampire" or "hopping zombie" in English - he has started to understand why these types of films were so popular in Asia during the late 1980s. He noted he was quite impressed by this traditional Chinese monster's unique movements and the Chinese kung fu on display while watching the film Mr. Vampire.

Promotional material of Mr. Vampire Photo: Sina Weibo

Yeon is no stranger to the zombie genre. In 2016 he directed Train to Busan, a South Korean action-horror film that earned $93.1 million worldwide to become the highest-grossing South Korean film in many Asian countries including Singapore and Malaysia. 

Jiangshi-themed movies from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region became a huge trend in Asia after 1985's Mr. Vampire, starring Lam Ching-ying, became a box office hit and introduced the vampire-like icon into the film market.  

Yeon revealed that he plans to act as a screenwriter on the film rather than direct,and wants to create a new image for zombies. He said he is now talking with the production team from Train to Busan for inspiration.

Shi Wenxue, a film critic and a teacher at the Beijing Film Academy, told the Global Times on Sunday that China's zombie-themed movies tend to mainly portray the image of stiff walking corpses dressed in the traditional clothing of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and heavily feature comedic elements, while most South Korean zombie films are based on the horror films from Western countries, and so feature social criticism, metaphors about human society and discussions about morality. 

Though Yeon has not revealed if he will cooperate with Chinese film producers on this new film, South Korean film expert Fan Xiaoqing, an associate professor from the Theater and Film Academy of the Communication University of China, said the director's move to film such a movie with Chinese characteristics reflects the trend toward friendly film cooperation between the two countries, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the shrink of the film industries of both countries.

She added that the apocalyptic film can  become a hit amid the COVID-19 pandemic if it touches moviegoers' hearts and showcases the kindness of human nature. 

The combination of South Korean films' outstanding narrative techniques, deep exploration of human nature and Chinese-style zombies could be quite an interesting combination, but it will also be a challenge to successfully integrate so many elements, Fan said. 


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