Tuesday 8 September 2020

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula (Movie Review)

Let's try to overlook just how ridiculous the title Train to Busan presents Peninsula sounds for one moment, shall we? In the crowded zombie movie genre, it has become increasingly harder for new entries to stand out. But that was precisely what Train to Busan had managed to accomplish when it released in 2016, offering a sharp, fresh take on the genre that was both thrilling to watch and breathtaking to look at.

Fast forward to four years later and of course we were bound to get the inevitable sequel. Granted, the new movie is only related to the first one through prefix alone. And like most sequels of this kind, its filmmakers have tried to double down on those elements that made the first movie great. Unfortunately, that doesn't always translate into a movie that is better, or in this case, as good as the one that came before.

Set in the same universe as the first movie, namely a South Korea that has been ravaged by a full-blown zombie apocalypse, the film introduces a new cast of characters. This includes Jung-seok (Gang Dong-won), a former Marine captain, and his brother-in-law, Chul-min (Kim Do-yoon). Both men were survivors of the zombie outbreak from the first film, but they still carry the guilt of failing to save those they love.

Struggling to make ends meet in the slums of Hong Kong where they now reside, the two men are given an opportunity to score big when they are recruited by a local gang leader. Their mission is to retrieve an abandoned truck loaded with $20 million, inside the quarantined South Korean peninsula. And so they set off along with two others, but what they find there is even more horrifying than anyone could've imagined.

Watching Train to Busan presents Peninsula, it is hard to imagine that the film was made by the same talent behind the original film. There is none of the intrigue that made that first film so compelling, or characters with arcs worth following, not to mention the social commentary for which the zombie horror genre has grown to be known over the years. Instead, we have a fairly predictable story that tries to elicit emotions from viewers that ultimately feel unearned.

The one area where the film attempts to compensate for its shortcomings is in the thrills department. The film is full of spectacle, and some of the most cartoony CGI to grace screens from a big budget production in a long while. There is certainly enough of it for action junkies to feel like they are getting their time and money's worth, but the first film never had to sacrifice thrills for a heartfelt story and characters you actually cared about, which is why I find it hard to give this one an overall pass.

But if you go in with lowered expectations, and approach the film as the popcorn action flick it is trying so hard to be, then perhaps you might be able to overlook some of its flaws. There's no getting past that ridiculous title though. Sorry.


  1. That is a really dumb title. The first one was refreshing but sounds like they just went for a cash grab with this one.