Four years ago, the zombie action film “Train to Busan” became an insider tip among genre fans. This is now being continued – under the title PENINSULA Lots of undead attack people again. We’ll reveal in our review whether it’s just as effective without a train.
OT: Train to Busan 2 (KOR 2020)
When the zombie invasion rocked South Korea, soldier Jung-seok narrowly escaped hell. While he has since spent his desolate life in Hong Kong, four years after the tragic events he receives a tempting but by no means serious offer: he should return to the quarantined peninsula and drive a truck with a group of rather poorly qualified mercenaries within a set period of time in the middle of Seoul, which is flooded with zombies, and secure the cargo.nAfter he only very reluctantly takes on the mission and, above all, follows his widowed but little combat-experienced brother-in-law, he finds himself a little later at the place where the zombie apocalypse originated took. At first everything goes well, the target is found quickly – if it weren’t for the mysterious militia Unit 631, which, together with vicious zombie hordes, turns the operation upside down within a very short time.
Even though the Korean zombie film “Train to Busan” was never regularly released in cinemas in this country, it still managed to gather a small fan base around itself. The screening at the Fantasy Film Festival is largely to blame for this, as the film became one of the audience favorites there in 2016. The chamber play shocker was previously shown at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival and, after its triumph in Asia, also had a limited theatrical release in the USA – the fact that the sequel, which is due to its success, will even be shown in local cinemas in contrast to the first part, is obvious, but there are risks also a problem: Yes, the fans of “Train to Busan” will even more flock to the cinemas when they hear that they can see the sequel there (despite Corona!). But how do you get people to buy tickets if they don’t know part one? And we remember: There is a loyal fan base, but it is (also) small due to the lack of a theatrical release of part one. In short, “Train to Busan 2” is not called “Train to Busan 2” in United Kingdom, but “Peninsula” after the peninsula of the same name on which the film largely takes place. That’s at least consistent, because this time too the setting gives the title – but at the same time it’s the biggest problem, because having a zombie film take place in the cramped setting of that same train to Busan was brilliant. “Peninsula” is not it.
The zombies react to the remote-controlled flashing toy car.
Now you have director and writer Sang-ho Yeon (“Seoul Station”) To his credit, he dared to abandon his successful concept from the first part for the sequel. A plot could certainly have been spun together somehow in which a group of train passengers were once again haunted by the undead; Maybe not on a train to Busan this time, but to some other Asian metropolis. But for “Peninsula” Yeon completely abandons the idea of a limited setting and chooses several set pieces and constellations of characters that move around in it for his zombie hunt. A large part of the action takes place on the eponymous Peninsula; and unfortunately in a rather redundant way. What dominates here are huge CGI zombie hordes, through which Jung-seok (Dong-Won Gang) and a few random acquaintances race through with routine regularity on their wheels. This is still quite impressive the first time around, even if the lack of directorial finesse brings back memories of the last “Resident Evil” films. The second time around you’re still amazed at the seemingly endless mass of undead bodies. But by the third time at the latest, this spectacular stunt is exhausted because Sang-ho Yeon lacks directorial variation.
“Now you have to give credit to director and author Sang-ho Yeon for having the courage to break away from his successful concept from the first part for the sequel. A plot could certainly have been spun together in which a group of train passengers were once again haunted by the undead.”
He sometimes finds this through the other set pieces; In particular, a subplot about underground zombie gladiator fights is impressive in terms of audio and visuals and is implemented in an appropriately harsh manner in keeping with the topic. The man-eaters, baring their teeth and eating their brains and innards, once again look damn nasty and are in no way inferior to the fellows from the previous film. At the same time, the idea of the undead being misused for entertainment purposes is not new, at least since various horror parodies. The scenes in “Peninsula” do not lack intensity, but they do lack creativity – and an emotional anchor point, because although the script by Yeon and his debut co-author Ryu Yong-jae establishes various new characters – there are cross-references to well-known characters or incidents from part one are rather rudimentary – no one is suitable to really empathize with. In order for this to succeed, the story would have to take much more time and, above all, longer to tell each individual storyline and the fates associated with it. But in “Peninsula” all the characters are just a means to an end – in this case, to the action.
The city is in a desolate condition.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look nearly as passable as you’d expect from the minimalist, but tough, first film. The haptic zombie design with lots of nasty effect make-up looks suitably intimidating, but disappears into the crowd when it suddenly comes entirely from the computer. Now it is either a blessing or a curse that “Peninsula” takes place almost entirely in the dark; In this way, the effects, which are sometimes only clearly achieved, can be easily concealed, but on the other hand, this makes the film look even more dull. After a very intense start on a ferry, on which an infected person suddenly infects all fellow travelers in no time (a very morbid scene, especially in view of current world events!), “Peninsula” takes on a variety of grey-brown-night-blue colors, in which you can also Due to the hectic editing and the shaky camera (Hyung-deok Lee), we sometimes can’t even tell exactly what our protagonists are actually doing. It almost seems like an attempt at emotional balance when Sang-ho Yeon unleashes the full load of pathos towards the end. But unfortunately it seems primarily artificial and purely dramaturgy-driven, whereas in the first part you noticed at every point that, despite all the action, the creators were always concerned with the characters.
“Now it’s either a blessing or a curse that “Peninsula” takes place almost entirely in the dark; In this way, the effects, which are sometimes only clearly achieved, can be easily concealed, but on the other hand, this makes the film visually seem even more dull.”
Conclusion: The zombie horror insider tip “Train to Busan” impressed four years ago with its innovative idea of unleashing an emerging undead epidemic on a group of train passengers. But together with the train setting, the cleverness also disappears from the interchangeable sequel, in which one dull action set piece follows the next.
“Peninsula” can be seen in USA cinemas from October 8th.