Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula – Film Review

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula

I was a big fan of 2016’s Train to Busan so I was excited for its sequel, Peninsula, but I came away sorely disappointed.

Set four years after the zombie outbreak depicted in the first film, Peninsula follows former military sergeant Jung-Seok (Gang Dong-won), who narrowly escaped South Korea and is now living in Hong Kong. He is approached about a mission to return to the quarantined peninsula to find an abandoned truck filled with cash and escape via the port within a set amount of time. Sounds easy, right? Nope! Not only is the peninsula riddled with fast and bloodthirsty zombies, but there’s also a mysterious and dangerous militia group on the prowl.

The zombie genre has been done to death (pun intended) but Train to Busan managed to inject a new lease of life into it. It felt fresh, exciting, and had a contained setting. Given its huge success, a sequel isn’t a surprise, but it’s a shame it falls into the same trap many follow-ups have done in the past. Peninsula’s budget is almost double the original’s and it is clear to see where the money was spent, as it is much bigger in scale, filled with action sequences, and jam-packed with CGI. But bigger doesn’t equal better. A prime example of this is the film’s first proper action sequence – a car chase which looked plucked straight from a video game, with the screen teeming with zombies rendered in sub-par CGI.

The concept for the first one was cool and new, whereas this story feels unnecessary and pointless, like it’s just been conjured up for the sake of making more money. The cash truck is located within the first half hour and I wondered how it was going to pad out the rest of its 116-minute runtime. This question was answered pretty quickly with the arrival of the militia group, which were largely unlikeable and had no redeemable qualities, and thankfully, the shining light of the movie – two sisters, Jooni (Lee Re) and Yu-jin (Lee Ye-won), who rescue Jung-seok and take him to their hiding place, where he meets their mother Min-jung (Lee Jung-hyun) and grandfather Mr. Kim (Kwon Hae-hyo). They were capable and kickass and added humanity and substance to a story desperately in need of it.

Although these characters are the saving grace of the movie they aren’t able to redeem it. The acting isn’t great, the mindless action scenes are chaotic and confusing, and the story is cliched and generic. It’s such a shame that Yeon Sang-ho, who returns to direct Peninsula, has not only failed to create a sequel that lives up to his predecessor but made one which fails to justify its own existence. Sad times.

Available on digital download from Monday 23rd November and Blu-ray and DVD on 30 November.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

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