Take Train to Busan and set it in China just before the communist revolution and replace the zombies with hordes of rats and you have Junkrat Train (Rat Train, Rat Disaster, 狂鼠列车), another Chinese CGI creature feature pitting man against a pissed off Mother Nature.
Su Zhenghuai (Yu Zhaode), his daughter Su Wei (Xia Yiyi) and his son Su Yuexuan (Chu Yuga) are taking the train to visit relatives in the provincial capital. As the train pulls out of the station he gets a quick look at what appears to be another train with blood and rats pouring out of a door. He’ll be getting a much better look at both soon.
Shortly after the train leaves the station, hordes of rats begin to fall from the ceiling of the train’s passenger cars and attacking the occupants. To make matters worse, they carry a disease that causes its victims, including Su Yuexuan, to fall into a coma and die. There’s an antidote for it but that means crossing an infested town to get to the hospital. And hoping there’s some left when they get there.
Director Zhenzhao Lin (The Enchanting Phantom, Snakes) takes the basic setup and characters from Train to Busan and mixes them with elements from King of Snakes, World War Z and even Horror Express then adds an extra dose of soap opera style drama in the form of Su Ling (Juya), Su Zhenghuai’s eldest daughter who ran away from home years ago and now is engaged to one of the officers in the Imperial Army unit guarding the train against bandits. And yes, there are bandits aboard as well.
Junkrat Train starts off on a strong note, the ominous sight of the blood leaking from the other train, well-staged scenes of panic, and what would have been a fairly spectacular bit of destruction if the film’s CGI had been up to it. Unfortunately, the second act bogs down badly. The film splits between the team that goes to the hospital and those that stay on the train. The mission to the hospital is a collection of adequately staged clichés. But the endless bickering among those back on the train is incredibly dull and predictable, as is the outcome of it all.
Thankfully it picks back up in the last act as what’s left of the expedition race back to the train as an army of rats moves in for the kill. Their escape is complicated by a wreck on the track that’s reminiscent of Train to Busan’s railyard scene, as are the film’s final scenes. Once again the CGI lets the film down though as long shots of fields being overrun by the hordes of rats look more like a flood of dirty water than a pack of animals.
Like most Chinese films, Junkrat Train suffers from very inconsistent, and frequently subpar CGI. Some of the scenes of packs of rats in the city streets work, but for the most part, the effects just don’t work. The explosion near the film’s end is particularly awful, both in terms of effects and just how large a blast that improvised suicide vest would actually create.
If you can deal with that and some preachy moments from the script Junkrat Train will kill ninety minutes reasonably well. Overall it falls in the middle of the pack when it comes to Chinese creature features which means if you like the films on SyFy or from The Asylum you’ll probably enjoy it.