It is rare for me to watch a film and love it so much that I immediately hope for a sequel to be made. Not just any sequel will do, of course. It has to be one that continues on with the spirit of the first, expanding on whatever universe or lore or other strong elements its predecessor has delivered. Read on to find out if that is the case with Yeon Sang-ho’s Train to Busan sequel, Peninsula.
Four years after the outbreak, South Korea is in ruins and has been quarantined from the rest of the world. Now, a soldier has been tasked with joining a small group to return to the peninsula to retrieve a truck full of enough money to change everyone’s lives. Once there, the crew must surivive the seemingly impossible odds against the zombies that still roam free, as well as various survivors they encounter along the way.
In 2016, Train to Busan seemingly came out of nowhere and blew me away. Everything about that film was flawless to me, from the special effects (both practical and CG) and acting performances to the plot and overall emotion oozing from every scene. When a sequel was announced, I could not have been happier. Not only did I want more of what was offered the first time around, but I needed it!
Unfortunately, no matter how badly I wanted it, I’m not sure any subsequent sequel could have delivered on the level necessary.
Peninsula is not a bad film by any stretch. It is incredibly fast-paced, leaving its audience no time to catch their breath, and features some of the most ferocious undead hordes ever put to film. Sadly, it just doesn’t feel like it even exists in the same realm as the 2016 masterpiece.
Gone are the characters I fell in love with and the tight quarters in which I hoped they would survive in. Instead, Peninsula introduces new characters entirely and our protagonists have an entire country to run around in. Sure, the environment is in shambles, bodies, buildings, and vehicles strewn about all around them. An open world brought to destruction is still an open world, after all.
This isn’t to say there aren’t characters introduced during the film’s 1 hour and 55 minute runtime that I don’t grow to care for. There are a handful actually. Joon-i (Re Lee, Seven Years of Night) and her adorable younger sister, Yu-jin (Ye-won Lee, The King: Eternal Monarch), for example.
Similarly, the open world I mentioned, once a vibrant city now tattered and torn, is an absolutely acceptable setting for any post-apocalyptic zombie-infested film. It is just such a stark contrast to that of the original film, that it is hard to digest as a true successor.
As a standalone project, Peninsula is very good; The acting from all parties is done extremely well with the worst performances ironically coming from the English [only] speaking actors. They felt out of place from the start and it shows through big time every scene they are in. Luckily, that is not very many.
All of the main characters are a joy to watch, however, and I have no problem with any of the ones we are meant to cheer for or, on the flip side, any of the baddies we meet along the way.
The world we are thrown into here is one that has evolved. Groups of people were forced to survive in an infected city that was forgotten about by the outside world. No one came to rescue them and they were left to their own devices. Some continued on the best they could, remaining the kindhearted people they always were, while others turned into savages, letting their inherently bad natures shine through fully.
This is understandable in any post-apocalyptic story; People cope with tragedy in all sorts of ways and just do whatever they think necessary to survive as long as possible. This is what makes some humans worse than their undead counterparts, however, and that is where the war between the ‘good guys’ and the evil ones comes into play. Even where this subject only barely breached the surface in Train to Busan, it is a huge part of the plot this time around.
Peninsula at Home
Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula is available now on Digital and will be available to own on 4K Ultra Blu-ray combo pack, Blu-ray combo pack, and DVD on Tuesday, November 24 from Well Go USA Entertainment.
The Blu-ray version of this home release is presented in 16:9 widescreen format with Dolby Atmos, 5.1 Dolby Digital, and Stereo audio tracks, in both Korean and English languages. There are also English subtitles present, of course.
The film is accompanied by a few short behind-the-scenes featurettes and trailers for other Well Go USA titles.
Peninsula is a great zombie shoot ’em up actioner. It is fast-paced, features great acting, and although it is CGI heavy, it still looks dreadfully beautiful. It is an enjoyable film that is even more enjoyable if you can ignore the fact that it is nothing like 2016’s Train to Busan.
Give this one its fair chance to impress you and let me know what you think, as I give it 3.5 light-up remote controlled cars out of 5.