Movie review: No train, no Busan in shabby sequel to hit Korean zombie flick

Fred Hawson

Posted at Sep 16 2020 06:13 AM

"Train to Busan" was my No. 1 movie of 2016 overall, including both Hollywood and Filipino films. It was one of the rare films which I rated a 10/10. I ranked it above Marvel films that year like "Captain America: Civil War," "Doctor Strange" and "Deadpool." When I heard that they were coming up with a sequel to "Train" this year, this got me (and I am sure most of its legion of other fans) very excited what they will come up with to surpass (or at least match) the remarkable achievement of the first film. 

When the zombies overrun the entire Korean peninsula, some people managed to escape the scourge when they were able to get on board a ship bound to Hong Kong. Four years after these events, four Koreans, including ex-Marine captain Jung-seok (Gang Dong-won) and his brother-in-law Chul-min (Kim Do-yoon), were chosen by a Hong Kong organization to return to Incheon to retrieve an abandoned truck which contained US$20 million in cold cash. 

Despite the hordes of zombies in Incheon, they were able to find the truck and drive off with it. However, they were ambushed by a crazed militia Unit 631, led by Sergeant Hwang (Kim Min-jae). Two young girls, the skillful driver Jooni (Lee Re) and her younger sister Yu-jin (Le Ye-won), rescued Jung-soek and brought him back to meet their mom Min-jung (Lee Jung-yun) and grandfather Elder Kim (Kwon Hae-hyo). Chul-min was captured by the insane soldiers who made him join other prisoners in their gladiator games against zombies.

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"Peninsula" was more of an action movie than a zombie movie. It was heavily influenced by Hollywood high-energy action films, like the wild car chases of the "The Fast and the Furious" films, the dystopian madness of "Mad Max: Fury Road" (2015) and even the fight-to-the-death games of "Running Man" (1987). The zombies hardly mattered here as they were only easy fodder to be blown up by automatic weapons or run down by speeding vehicles. They tried to shoehorn an emotional ending, but sorry, it felt forced. It certainly did not have the emotional depth nor connection of the original's heartbreaking conclusion. No one in this forgettable new cast could hold a candle to Gong Yu and his stellar company in "Train."

Aside from the zombies, there was nothing really to connect this film with the first "Train to Busan." There was no train here. There was no Busan here. There was no one from the original film that was in the cast now. This was practically a new film about zombies. 

I think they should not have even announced that this was a sequel to "Train" at all. That way, people will judge it on its own merits only, and not in comparison to the revered original. As a sequel though, "Peninsula" is clearly inferior compared to "Train," and did not deserve to have the original title attached to its title at all. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."