Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula Review
Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula Review - The train is not stopping anytime soon
If you haven't watched Train to Busan, you're missing out on one of the greatest Zombie movies of the modern age. Luckily, even if you missed it, it won't affect your experience with its predecessor Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula. Sang-ho Yeon returns to direct the sequel to his massive hit taking place 4 years after the zombie outbreak takes over Korea. The safe zone Busan was thought to be, does not last but luckily many citizens were able to get off the island. However, now they live as refugees in Hong Kong and are treated with extreme prejudice.
Peninsula follows Jung Seok (Dong-Won Gang), who is a member of Korea's military, as he escorts his sister, her husband Chul-min (Do-Yoon Kim), and his nephew, to the lifeboat that takes them to Hong Kong. On their way they pass a couple on their young child stranded due to their car breaking down. Sadly, Seok and his family do not help them, despite their desperate pleas.
As the ship is on the seas, the family has momentarily split apart as they settle in and gather supplies. Seok's sister and her son are in the passenger cabin where a man slowly succumbs to the zombie virus. The cabin is quickly infected as Seok makes his way back to find his sister cradling her son as he is in the midst of becoming a zombie. Seok attempts to get her out of the cabin, but she is in pure shock at the sight of her dying child. Seok fights off some zombies as he screams for his sister to snap out of it, ultimately he leaves the cabin and seals it off to protect the rest of the ship. Just as he shuts the door, his brother-law-returns and they both are forced to witness Seok's sister get mobbed by zombies.
Four years pass and we see that Korea has become completely taken over. A guilt-ridden Jung Seok and Chul-min are contracted, along with two others, for a mission to acquire a food truck with $20 million US dollars abandoned in Incheon in the quarantined peninsula. The four survivors make their way to the truck, only for everything to go horribly wrong.
Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula continues to gripping zombie horror, thrilling zombie combat, and intense human drama that made its predecessor incredible. It's a perfect mix of grounded humanity and action in a completely world-breaking situation. What Peninsula does extremely well is progress the world and adapt to the new way of life. In any zombie franchise, the survivors eventually stop trying to survive and begin to live. While the threat never goes away, people learn to cope. When Jeong Seok and Chul-min go to the peninsula, they find survivors who have lived there since the outbreak.
On the more positive and ideal side, there's Min Jung (Jung-hyun Lee) and her daughters, Jooni (Re Lee) and Yu-jin (Ye-Won Lee), along with Old Man Kim (Hae-hyo Kwon). Min jung and her family have incredible skills used to survive and live rather hopefully despite the literal end of the world. In contrast, you have Captain Seo (Koo Kyo-hwan) and Sgt. Hwang (Min-Jae Kim) who run a contemptuously dictated society. While their group is relatively safe, the growing animosity within the group is palpable.
Sang-ho Yeon masterfully takes us to the extremes of long-time zombie apocalypse survivors, capturing the resilience of people as well as the deplorable depths. Seo's group ruthlessly pits captives against zombies as entertainment, whereas Min jung and her family stay hopeful and cheery. Without giving anything away, Jung-hyun Lee beautifully captures a jaded hope. Her character has been through the mess, and is affected, but unchanged. Dong-Won Gang is a certifiable action hero, however Re Lee is the biggest badass in the movie. Lastly, heroes are only as good as their villains, and Koo Kyo-hwan and Min-Jae Kim are truly deplorable people with 0 redemption. Fans will truly love to hate these people.
The last thing I want to cover in my review is the expansion of the story and how it has me hopeful and excited that Train to Busan will become a global franchise. Peninsula immediately includes America, on the rescue ship, and later throughout the film in subtle and obvious ways. Then there's Hong Kong, whose citizens treat Jung Seok and Chul-min with the vitriol of non-named villains that later get their much-deserved comeuppance. The seeds of global expansion directly within the story and indirectly in the marketplace have been planted. I don't expect the Train to Busan to stop anytime soon.
Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula is a great sequel that perfectly captures the spirit of its predecessor and masterfully moves the story forward. It is even more impressive considering 0 returning characters and is a testament to the amazing directing of Sang-ho Yeon. Peninsula is an unending thriller of terror, action, and drama that perfectly captures, and I'm not sure if it's intentional, dealing with a deadly disease outbreak. Just when you think the worst is over, it gets worse. However, unlike in real life, Sang-ho Yeon makes the entire experience entertaining from start to finish. My Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula review gets a 4.5/5. If you like zombie movies, or action-horror movies, and don't mind reading subtitles, you should definitely watch this movie.
Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula is out now on VOD.