Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula – Sequel is Bigger but Not Better

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula, so named in the US because audiences may not remember what movie it's supposed to be a sequel to, is a return to Zombie Apocalypse South Korea with bigger, louder but not necessarily better results.

Train to Busan Presents Peninsula: Sequel is Bigger but Not Better
"Train to Busan Presents Peninsula" key art; Well Go USA.

Train to Busan Present: Peninsula is a sequel in the sense that it takes place in the same universe but doesn't feature any of the characters from the original movie. It takes place years after the Korean Peninsula has fallen to the zombie apocalypse. Former Marine sergeant Jung-Seok (Gang Dong-won) and his brother-in-law Chul-Min (Lee Jung-Hyun) are living a miserable life in Hong Kong as refugees, subjected to racism from the locals. The local triad makes them an offer: go back to the Korean Peninsula to recover US$20 million, escape the zombies, and they'll be set for life.

Jung-Seok and a team of equally desperate Korean refugees sneak back to Korea and find that the zombies are not their biggest problem. A former military unit of sadistic assholes rule the roost in the city now and grab people for a zombie fight club that's what passes for local entertainment. Jung-Seok is rescued by two plucky kids whose mother turns out to be the woman whose family Jung-Seok left behind when he was escaping the city with his own family years when the zombie apocalypse broke out. Now he has to atone for that as they help him escape the city. Zombie movies are all about karma.

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula is a sequel with bigger, crazier action but not as good as Train to Busan. It lacks the coherence of the first movie, whose self-contained story onboard a train is much tighter, its commentary more cutting and concise. Director Yeon Sang Ho is an adept director at shooting action, especially creating big, elaborate blockbuster set-pieces that mix CGI with live-action. However, the sequel feels derivative. There's a touch of Terminator, John Carpenter's Escape from New York, Mad Max: Fury Road, and the whole movie feels like the zombie mode of the Call of Duty video game adapted into a movie.

All that action and mawkish Korean tears – every Korean movie has to have melodrama and lots of crying – pass the time since the sequel has less to say than the original. There's Yeon's usual preoccupation with being a good dad to daughters and a vague subtext about South Korea's fears of collapsing into neglect, obscurity, and becoming forgotten by the world. If an action movie about a country desiccated by isolation and quarantine turns out to be about the Pandemic yet again, even if it was completed before COVID hit, then this is another timely zombie movie; Korea keeps doing that with zombies lately.

Train to Busan: Peninsula is now streaming on VOD platforms in the US.

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About Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist who just likes to writer. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
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