TRAIN TO BUSAN PRESENTS: PENINSULA (Blu-ray Review)
From WELL GO USA
Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀
Train to Busan’s highly-anticipated sequel, Peninsula, isn’t nearly as good. But I can’t really say I was disappointed.
The original 2016 film had the distinction of topping Dawn of the Dead’s 38 year reign as my personal choice for the greatest zombie movie ever made (sorry, George). Thrilling, scary, funny and surprisingly touching, it even made this website’s Greatest Movies Ever list.
But if George Lucas and the Wachowskis taught me nothing else, it’s to keep one’s presumptions in-check, especially regarding sequels to universally revered films. So I didn’t expect Peninsula to top - or even equal - the visceral rush Train to Busan. If the thing ended up being even half as engaging, it would still be better than a majority of the zombie films released in the past decade.
If you can approach it with the same tempered expectations, Peninsula is a solidly entertaining action-horror film. Though it has the same director (Yeon Sang-ho) and co-writer (Park Soo-Suk), this one is completely different in tone, pace and narrative approach, with an all new setting and cast of characters. Only the snarling hordes of sprinting zombies - which have now overrun South Korea - connect the two films.
|Sometimes you gotta dance like no one's watching...|
They’re hired by a local gangster to return to the peninsula and retrieve $20 million stashed in an abandoned truck. If successful, they’ll get half the money. The city is still crawling with zombies, as is what’s left of the South Korean army. No longer soldiers, they’re a squad of psychotics commanded by Captain Seo (Koo Kyo-hwan) and his sadistic second-in-command, Sergeant Hwang (Kim Min-jae). Jung-seok also runs into Min-jung (Lee Jung-hyun), the mother who begged him to help her four years ago. She and her two daughters have since become pretty resourceful at survival.
If nothing else, you can’t accuse the filmmakers of repeating themselves. It does, however, appear that they looked to such films as Escape from New York for inspiration, which also applies to the setting and production design. Overall, the performances are pretty good and Dong-won makes an intriguing anti-hero who’s given an opportunity for redemption. And of course, the zombie hordes are as fleet-footed, vicious and nasty as ever. For the most part, the film is fast-paced and exciting with a few creative flourishes, such as an arena where victims are thrown in with zombies and soldiers wager on who survives.
|...and sing like no one's listening.|
Train to Busan was one of those rare films that managed to transcend its genre and chances-are the law of diminishing returns would apply to any follow up. So perhaps going in a completely different direction was a wise decision. When viewed as a stand-alone story that takes place in the same universe - as opposed to a true sequel - Peninsula is an enjoyable, action-filled horror film. You just gotta temper your expectations.
4 PROMOTIONAL FEATURETTES - These mostly consist of interviews with the primary cast and the director.