Yeon Sang-ho’s spiritual successor to his wildly successful ‘Train to Busan’ is a well-put-together action movie, but stops short of being great
There is no shortage of thrills in Peninsula, Yeon Sang-ho’s spiritual successor to his wildly successful Train to Busan. From car chases to pitched gun battles and even a grim fight club between zombies and prisoners, it is all there. Peninsula, however, falls short in its treatment of the undead, who quickly become tiresome, running around snarling stupidly. They turn up like the proverbial bad pennies whenever Sang-ho needs to get his character out of a sticky situation or propel the already frenetic plot into warp speed. Like a reverse deus ex machina, the zombies swarm in to move things along or give the bad guys their just desserts.
Four years after the events of Train to Busan, South Korea is overrun by zombies and the peninsula is in quarantine. In Hong Kong, Captain Jung-Seok (Gang Dong-won) is guilt-ridden as he was not able to save his sister and nephew. Jung-Seok and his brother-in-law, Chul-min (Kim Do-yoon), are recruited by gangsters to retrieve 20 million dollars in a truck from the zombie-ravaged peninsula—capitalism, greed and crime seem to be thriving in the rest of the world.
- Director: Yeon Sang-ho
- Cast: Gang Dong-won, Lee Jung-hyun, Kwon Hae-hyo, Kim Min-jae, Koo Kyo-hwan, Kim Do-yoon, Lee Re, Lee Ye-won, Bella Rahim
- Story line: A van full of American dollars has to be transported on a perilous route peppered with greedy men and ravenous zombies
- Run time: 116 minutes
Getting the truck to port seems like easy money but of course things go horribly wrong as rogue militia, led by Sergeant Hwang (Kim Min-jae) and crazed Captain Seo (Koo Kyo-hwan), look at the truck as a way of getting out of the peninsula. Two girls, Jooni (Lee Re), a wicked-cool driver, and Yu-jin (Lee Ye-won), who uses remote-controlled toys to distract and draw out the zombies, rescue Jung-Seok. When Jung-Seok meets the girls’ mother Min-jung (Lee Jung-hyun), he realises he had met her before under rather terrible circumstances. The girls’ grandfather (Kwon Hae-hyo) is trying to radio for help and finally seems to get an answer from a UN officer named Jane (Bella Rahim).
The action in the looming dead factories is well-staged even if it looks like a video game. The cast is competent, looking like they mean business as they wield their nasty guns and sundry weapons. The women seem to have stepped out of a James Bond film as they stop with a screech of brakes beside various characters and tersely say, “get in”. There is even a Terminator moment with echoes of, “Come with me if you want to live”.
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Even though the deserted streets exude menace, the almost unbearable tension of Train to Busan is markedly lacking. Peninsula is a well-put-together action movie, which stops short of being great — the zombies should not have been given short shrift.