What to do? What to do? Train To Busan was a fabulous film, if you haven’t seen it, I urge you to get out and give it a go. Sure, it’s a zombie film, but one with great performances and a brilliant story to-boot.
This follow up that’s not a follow up, known as Peninsula, well, it’s not that. The makers have been at pains to say this film is not a sequel to 2016’s Train To Busan, which is odd when it’s original title was Train To Busan 2.
There is one reference to Busan in Peninsula, during an English-language TV interview when an interviewee says there were rumours it was a safe-haven in South Korea. Other than that, Peninsula is a stand-alone film and it needs to be, because, if you want to compare it to Train To Busan, the verdict is woeful, so we won’t. We’ll treat it as a stand-alone movie that just happens to be set in Korea. And feature zombies. And be set four years after Train To Busan. But it’s not a sequel.
Peninsula follows Jung Seok, Dong-Won Gang (“The Secret Reunion”, “Haunters”), a former soldier who escaped South Korea to land in Hong Kong, one of the final refugees before countries began closing their borders.
On the ship over, Jung Seok’s sister and nephew caught the zombie virus, as did many others on board, and he managed to escape, along with his brother-in-law. Fast forward some time and Seok is summoned to see ‘the boss’, where he finds his brother-in-law, a woman and a man.
The boss, Geoffrey Giuliano (“One Woman”, “Buffalo Rider”), wants to send this rag-tag bunch of folk back to Incheon to pickup a truck-load of cash, $20 million to be precise, that the previous rag-tag bunch failed to bring back.
Reluctantly they go and almost immediately things don’t go well. They aren’t alone in the city, besides the hoards of zombies, there’s squadron 631, a bunch of soldiers sent to look for survivors who are now a bit ‘mad-max’ and have made their home in the city.
Jung Seok also finds Min Jung, Jung-hyun Lee (“The Battleship Island”, “Love, Again”), her two daughters and an old man known as Commander. These three have escaped the confines of 631 and now live-out alone.
Naturally, when everyone learns of a satellite phone and that all they need to do is return the truck full of money to Incheon port to get out of the hell whole, well, more hell breaks loose.
Whilst watching Peninsula I constantly had the feeling I was playing a computer game. I think it would make a great computer game: you run around with a machine gun, blowing zombies heads off, rescuing people, trying to get a truck and its contents, to a port before a ship departs.
However, it’s not a game, it’s a movie, and as such it’s fair to say it’s a bit of a mess. Writers Sang-ho Yeon (the original writer and director of Train To Busan), who also directs, and Ryu Yong-jae, attempt to bring some of the heart and story from Busan to this film. They do not succeed.
The movie flips between over the top sentimentality, slow-motion moments that go on forever, car chase scenes that look like they’re out of a manga series and gameplay-style shooting scenes.
At nearly two-hours long it goes on a bit. Any originality has gone and instead we are left with an over sentimental mad-max style movie that fails to reach the heights of either the first film, or any mad-max film.