Sang-ho Yuen shocked the world in 2016 with Train To Busan, by giving us a zombie movie that we didn’t know we needed or wanted. The film provided a surprising level of thrills, humor, and emotion to a genre that had been pretty much depleted. So, expectations have been high for Yuen’s follow-up to Busan. Unfortunately, Peninsula doesn’t quite reach the heights of its predecessor.
Peninsula opens with a brief sequence, during the original outbreak, where we meet Jung Seok (Dong-Won Gang), a former member of the military. Smash-cut to four years later and we find Jung living with other survivors in Hong Kong. Jung is quickly hired to join a small group of mercenaries, charged with the mission of scavenging riches from zombie-infected South Korea.
The mission is supposed to be quick, but of course, plans go awry.
The new zombie reality of Peninsula is both its strength and weakness. Since the outbreak is essentially old news, during the events of this movie, we lose a bit of the energetic surprise by the main characters. Peninsula also lacks the focused tension that Busan maintained by trapping humans and zombies on a moving train. Peninsula opts for action and sort of post-apocalyptic society as it’s backdrop. Viewers approaching Peninsula are better served thinking of it as more similar to Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome or Escape from New York than it is to Train To Busan.
Hardcore fans of Train to Busan are likely to feel a bit letdown by Peninsula. However, more casual zombie movie fans, or movie-goers who aren’t familiar with the original movie, might take Peninsula more at face-value, finding it a generally imaginative, action-horror movie.