Leaving Behind that Train to Busan in Peninsula

13 Aug

Peninsula poster.jpgBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Release Date:
August 7, 2020 (Canada)
August 12, 2020 (USA)

No prior knowledge is needed to enjoy Peninsula (반도) a side story set in a world of Train to Busan. All fans have to know is that most of South Asia has succumbed to the zombie pandemic and nobody is working on a cure to this mystery disease. The Walking Dead is everywhere and the premise is not too different from Robert Kirkman’s epic. Zones of infestation are declared and the timing of this release cannot be any more ironic when considering the current medical crisis happening right now.

Marine Captain Jung-seok (Gang Dong-won) could have saved Min-jung (Lee Jung-hyun) and her family who was also fleeing Incheon. However, he chose not to not because there was lack of room, but he was scared. Nobody knew how this deadly virus transmitted. It’s a dog eat dog world in this cinematic universe and it’s also rare to get second chances to right what’s wrong.

Much like the first film, the theme of self-preservation versus self-sacrifice is just as evident. Without it, I’m sure Jung-seok would be up the creek with no way to paddle home. He meets up with this family again a few years later and the tensions become very obvious. But unless these rag tag survivors set aside the past, their mission to return to the homeland will fail. There’s an abandoned food truck which holds more than a meal ticket to leave the region for good.

Writer director Sang-ho Yeon sets this film up for more action than horror. I hoped for more of the latter and ultimately, what I watched felt more like Resident Evil meets Mad Max. We get more action than suspense. Any sense of terror is tossed out the window and I suspect that this filmmaker had to play by a few executive producer’s rules if his film is to be distributed in an international market. The first movie was a breakout hit, and the second still needs a few barriers to break through if its to get proper notice.

It’s safe to assume more movies will be made in this setting. It might feature a few returning characters. I get the sense the young girls we’ve met in Peninsula and the last movie will make up a new resistance. As for whether or not they can free Korea from the pandemic’s hold, that’s up to Yeon to figure out when he’s ready to write parts three and four.

3½ Zombies out of 5

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