Last Train To New York, The Remake Of Last Train To Busan, Gets A Release Date

The upcoming English-language remake of Yeon Sang-ho's zombie banger "Train to Busan" is picking up speed. The 2016 original feature concerns a viral undead outbreak in Seoul (yes, zombies can run and plot attacks — see Umberto Lenzi's "Nightmare City" for precedent) and an intense fight for survival aboard a train of unassuming passengers. It made moviegoers scream and cry, so much so that it spawned an animated prequel and a standalone follow-up. Now, an overseas translation of the story situates the outbreak around one of the most populated cities in the United States (considering the recent massive Covid resurgence in the state of New York, the production couldn't have picked a better setting).

We already know that "The Last Train to New York" is helmed by the maestro of violence Timo Tjahjanto, known for the mercenary free-for-all "The Night Comes for Us," midnight scarefest "May the Devil Take You," and the most bonkers-in-Yonkers segments of the "V/H/S/2" and "V/H/S/94" anthologies. Tjahjanto is directing the remake for New Line Cinema, with James Wan's Atomic Monster producing with Michael Clear. Gaumont's Nicolas Atlan and Terry Kalagian also produce with Coin Operated's Gary Dauberman ("Annabelle: Creation"), who also pens the screenplay. Judson Scott, Sidonie Dumas, Christophe Riandee, and Johanna Byer executive produce.

Now, a release date has pulled the train out of the station; "The Last Train to New York" arrives at its theatrical destination on April 21, 2023.

Balls-To-The-Wall Action and Surprise Sentiment? Timo's Your Man

The scuttlebutt on social media is predictably wary of English-language remakes of Asian works, even with a director as talented as Tjahjanto at the helm. Spike Lee's 2013 re-interpretation of Park Chan-wook's "Oldboy" stands as one of his worst-performing films at the box office in addition to middling-to-negative criticism. Meanwhile, seeing Nicolas Pesce (he of the brutal meditation "The Eyes of My Mother" and the visually dazzling BDSM study "Piercing") get his creative wings clipped to fit into the horror IP formula with his "Grudge" reboot remains one of the biggest horror disappointments of 2020. These projects can be gateways for our favorite storytellers to get the bigger budgets they deserve, but these remakes often defang the very distinct styles and intensities that these directors are hired for in the first place.

But Timo Tjahjanto is the right gun-for-hire here, largely due to the shared hot-blooded vigor that runs through both the "Busan" franchise and the Indonesian writer-director's filmography. The butcher house brawl in "The Night Comes For Us," in addition to being one of the finest action sequences of the last decade, has all the grit and gristle of the initial train outbreak scene in "Busan." More than that, Tjahjanto's work has a beating heart at the core of its close-quartered battles, whether watching fraternity and protective instincts kick into high gear in "The Night Comes..." or observing the disintegration of a loving relationship within a not-so-"Safe Haven" in the second "V/H/S" franchise entry (co-written and co-directed by Gareth Evans of "The Raid"). 

The "Train to Busan" follow-up, "Peninsula," illuminates just how important the balance is between hard-hitting gore and effective emotional beats — without one, the other doesn't stick the landing. Tjahjanto's resume displays an intimate understanding of this push-and-pull, and it'll be a treat to see him sink his teeth into zeds-on-a-train, especially with Atomic Monster (which brought us "Malignant") backing him. This is optimal.

"The Last Train to New York" releases in theaters on April 21, 2023.