Monday, August 17, 2020

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula Review: Zombie Action With Fun Gadgets And Plenty of References to Original

Sequel to 2016 Zombie Suspense Film Train to Busan, Peninsula takes the team back to the island.  The movie is a zombie horror action film with entertainment and heart  The film stars Dong-Won Gang	Jung-hyun Lee Re Lee	 Hae-hyo Kwon Min-Jae Kim Gyo-hwan Koo Do-Yoon Kim Ye-Won Lee
Release date: August 21, 2020
Running time: 116 minutes
Starring: Dong-Won Gang, Jung-hyun Lee, John D. Michaels 

Taking place four years after South Korea’s total decimation in Train to Busan, Peninsula takes us back to South Korea for a look at how the nation fared.  From director Yeon Sang-ho, takes us back in a tense, zombie filled sequel.  Jung-seok, a soldier who previously escaped the diseased wasteland, relives the horror when assigned to a covert operation with two simple objectives: retrieve and survive. When his team unexpectedly stumbles upon survivors, their lives will depend on whether the best—or worst—of human nature prevails in the direst of circumstances.

Sequel to 2016 Zombie Suspense Film Train to Busan, Peninsula takes the team back to the island.  The movie is a zombie horror action film with entertainment and heart  The film stars Dong-Won Gang	Jung-hyun Lee Re Lee	 Hae-hyo Kwon Min-Jae Kim Gyo-hwan Koo Do-Yoon Kim Ye-Won Lee
Train to Busan was such an amazingly fresh take on the zombie genre that it was an instant classic.  The movie had so much tense action, so much heart, and an overall great zombie aesthetic.  Peninsula, taking place four years later, does have a lot of great references to the original movie.  It also has a heart wrenching, rough opening sequence.  However, after that the movie turns into more of a covert action movie and less about what made Train to Busan so amazing.  The movie follows a team who enter the Korean peninsula and deal with all the issues that come with it.  It is less Train to Busan and more Dead Rising.  It actually feels very much like Dead Rising, with some over the top personalities, fast but flawed zombies, and the use of gadgets to outwit them both.  This would not be bad in and of itself, but when coming from such stellar source material I can't but be let down. 

The movie does have a lot going for it, however.  On top of the references to the original, the movie does have some really great zombie acting.  Zombies will twitch, run on all fours, and throw themselves at their prey.  And although there is not a lot of it until the end, when there is gunplay or hand to hand combat, it is quite good.  With strong martial arts influences, and use of weapons as both projectiles but also as parts of the martial arts fighting, the action in this film is very exciting.  And on top of that, the movie does have some great uses of tools and environments to avoid and utilize the zombies.  There are some awesome gadgets that are pulled out to take advantage of the zombie triggers and limitations, and it makes for some enjoyable sequences.

However, there are some major flaws with this film.  First and foremost, the use of CGI in this film is frankly distracting.  Individual zombies are great and even small groups, but when the horde gets to be too large the CGI kicks in and is distracting at best.  Large zombie groups look unnatural and cartoony, making their impact less impressive.  Additionally, for a lot of what should be exciting car chase scenes, they again kick in the CGI to make them feel very unnatural.  Cars and trucks will move much quicker and have far more precise turns than they should, especially for salvaged, broken down cars on roads that are neglected and shattered.  It makes these sequences look and feel like video game sequences, less zombie horror and more Initial D.  And finally, this film should have been completely in Korean.  For whatever reason, the English VO sounds like a non-native speaker dubbing over non-Korean actors.  It is distracting and everything just sounds better and more natural in Korean.  Overall, there is a lot to like about this movie but all these little nits distract from the good sequences and action.  And although the film takes a long time to develop and sometimes feels disjointed due to the multiple plot lines, the ending is decently epic and recaptures a lot of the heart that made Train to Busan so endearing.  

Peninsula is an exciting trip back to the Train to Busan universe, with good action and plenty of references to the original.  However, the distracting CGI, inconsistent story, and change in tone make this a trip you can delay taking.

Rent it.
Sequel to 2016 Zombie Suspense Film Train to Busan, Peninsula takes the team back to the island.  The movie is a zombie horror action film with entertainment and heart  The film stars Dong-Won Gang	Jung-hyun Lee Re Lee	 Hae-hyo Kwon Min-Jae Kim Gyo-hwan Koo Do-Yoon Kim Ye-Won Lee
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