‘Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula’ Movie Review — Con of the Dead
Train to Busan was a 2016 Korean zombie movie that really caught on internationally. It worked as a Snowpiercer meets Dawn of the Dead riff, keeping the zombie action contained on a train. It may have been a tad overrated but certainly satisfied its audiences. It’s four years later and Train to Busan: Peninsula picks up four years after the zombie outbreak, although it does begin with some train action in the prologue.
Unfortunately, any distinct spin the original had devolves into a completely standard zombie movie in the sequel. It may be enough to satisfy die hard zombie fans, but even they will likely expect more from such a prolific genre.
‘Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula’ promises something it doesn’t deliver
The initial premise of Peninsula is strong. Three Korean refugees in Hong Kong agree to venture back into the zombie infested peninsula to steal gold that was left behind when everybody fled. A heist movie in a zombie apocalypse would be great. Unfortunately, they find the gold right away and then just do the standard zombie movie until morning.
Jung-Seok (Gang Dong-Won) waits out the night with Joon-i (Lee Re) and Yu-Jin (Lee Ye-Won), who’ve been holed up in the Penninsula since the outbreak with their grandfather (Kwon Hae-hyo) and their mother Min-jung (Lee Jung-hyun). Like most zombie movies, most of Peninsula takes place in their refuge as they make a plan.
Captain Seo (Koo Kyo-hwan) has been ruling the underworld of the Peninsula, so there are different subcultures that exist here. It’s no deeper than good guys and bad guys, though. Of course someone used the zombie apocalypse to gain power over his small dominion. That’s what always happens.
‘Train to Busan Presents” the waiting game
Train to Busan was pretty action packed for its confined location. They moved through the train dealing with zombie encounters along the way. Peninsula makes you think it might be the Aliens to the original Alien. It opens with the prologue, the heist and some automobile action. Once Jung-Seok meets all the characters, it just settles in.
Seo holds “Running Man” like games to pass the time, so there are sporadic moments of action. It never really explores the world left behind though. The Peninsula is a fairly generic wasteland in the grand scheme of post-apocalyptic movies. Plus, it’s all at night so it’s too dark to see any of the designs.
The zombie home stretch
The action picks up in the third act. People want to get out out and Seo doesn’t want them to leave, and there are still zombies to deal with so the climax is a big chase. It’s fine. It’s a lot of CGI with cars and zombies.
Were there more of an investment in the characters or situation for the first 90 minutes, the conclusion might have been satisfying enough. Or if they unleashed truly epic action it could be enough spectacle to forgive the down time. Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula simply shows that sequilitis is not solely an American affliction.