“Train to Busan” was a ground-breaking film that marked zombie history in 2016. With a perfect blend of action, physically flexible extras, a simple, yet well-exploited concept, and even some heart-breaking emotion, I had given it a perfect 10/10 score, which I don’t often do. Therefore, we were all very excited to discover that it would be having a sequel. “Peninsula” hit select North American theaters on Friday, August 7th, 2020, and it was sub-par to its predecessor’s glory.
Four years after the original film, we discover that Korea had completely lost control of the zombie virus and was quarantined from all neighboring countries, abandoned to deal with its own fate. A small crew of individuals who managed to make it out of Korea are recruited to bypass its closed borders and retrieve a huge amount of cash. If they succeed in doing so, the group can keep half of the bounty. Despite the imminent dangers awaiting, the group of survivors accept the mission and return to the Hell that they had barely escaped from.
When you come up with a sequel to a movie that hasreceived raving reviews and was hailed as one of the best zombie movies of its generations, the expectations are evidently high. Add to that the original director and writers from “Train to Busan” and it should be a nearly guaranteed classic as well, right? Well, “Peninsula” unfortunately doesn’t deliver as much of an impact as its first chapter, despite being an above-average zombie film, nonetheless.
“Train to Busan” was the only living dead film that can brag about succeeding in making me cry (shut up. I’m not crying; you’re crying). Well, within the first 10 minutes of “Peninsula”, I have to admit that the movie almost had me tearing up. Without barely any knowledge on the characters, their fate, added to yet another great soundtrack, will unquestionably tug on your heart strings. In fact, the first third of the film is great, showing us how the Korean government lost control of the situation, in addition to witnessing the intense arrival of our group of protagonists back into the overthrown country. The second portion has a slight lull, allowing the main character, Jung Suk (Dong-Won Gang), to reconnect with people of his past and the introduction of the typical apocalyptic-surviving society. The last third of the motion picture plays out awkwardly as a compilation of scenes of “Fast and the Furious”, surrounded by zombies.
The actors are fantastic and portray their characters genuinely. We get attached to every single protagonist, despise the main antagonist, and are even surprised at the change of heart of others. The directing is on par, for the most part, and the soundtrack is intense at times and touching at others. A nice mix of practical effects and CGI explode onscreen for maximum carnage. The plot seems to be the main weakness of the film, turning to typical storyline outcomes in an apocalyptic, lawless society. Now, the whole plot isn’t all bad; it’s just that a great portion of the movie seems to feel like other zombie films we’ve seen before, minus the incredible number of extras and zombies piling up on top of each other.
“Peninsula” is a weak sequel to a modern-day classic horror movie, yet it isn’t a waste of your time, either. It’ll easily surpass most zombie movies you’ve seen in your life, without a doubt. However, due to the unprecedented success of the first chapter in this franchise, it was almost impossible for this sequel to live up to its reputation. Part two of “Train to Busan” receives a solid 7 out of 10.
Article written by Simon Rother