Vampire Owl: So, we do have the return of the zombies after a long time.
Vampire Bat: Well, Train to Busan always deserved a sequel.
Vampire Owl: We remember that it was the one movie which took us to Korea.
Vampire Bat: It led to our first Korean films on Movies of the Soul.
Vampire Owl: I remember that there are many other films which followed.
Vampire Bat: That was our entry into South Korean movies.
Vampire Owl: Only to have movies in many other languages follow.
Vampire Bat: South Korea should be among our dream nations too.
Vampire Owl: As far as Asian nations are concerned, I don’t see why it shouldn’t be.
Vampire Bat: Yes, we have visited only Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia in the east so far.
[Gets a marble cake and three cups of mixed tea].
What is the movie about? :: As a zombie outbreak occurs in South Korea, nobody has any clue about how it started, even though a particular bio-facility is suspected, and there is also no idea about how to contain it. There was pandemonium breaking loose in South Korea though, as people were believing in rumours circulating online, and traveling to safe areas further south – in the end, no place was safe, except for, maybe North Korea. As Captain Jung-seok (Gang Dong-won) of South Korean Marine Corps drives his family to safety, he ignores everyone seeking help on the way, suspecting that they could all be infected. But the infection has also spread in the ship, and more and more people are transformed into the zombie-like state. His nephew and sister are among the people who are bitten and lost to the disease. As they are re-routed to Hong Kong, while the world nations try to quarantine South Korea in whichever ways possible.
So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: South Korean refugees were no longer accepted in other countries, and the quarantine continued for four years, without any break in between. Later in Hong Kong, Jung-seok and his brother-in-law Chul-min (Kim Do-yoon) are recruited by some Chinese gangsters for a mission which includes retrieving a truck containing millions of dollars from South Korea. They would be paid half of the money if they come back with it alive. As they are certain that they won’t be given refugee status, and are going to be discriminated, they decide to take the offer. They go in at night hoping that they can stay undetected from zombies and most of the ships patrolling the peninsula, and for others, they can pay cash. With the help of the gangsters and their influence, they manage to get there and also find the truck, following it up with the murder of the zombie driver. But this mission won’t be that easy as they thought, as there is something else.
The defence of Peninsula :: Train to Busan was a favourite, and as Peninsula maintains the same spirit up to an extent, we can say that there is enough around here too – the focus on action would be the big change around here. The setting of the post-apocalyptic South Korea is also worth seeing with some fine visual quality. The devastated city is a scene to remember at night as well as the day. The film offers a lot of zombie action as expected, and the fighting sequences happen naturally, as it has always happened with Resident Evil and its sequels, even though this is a more believable one in comparison. The zombies remain as good as they were, even though the attention is less on them this time in comparison to the first film. Well, the world has changed, and we are into another environment now. There is enough action, and some emotions to be added here, and things work well. It is an interesting, thrilling ride from the beginning to the end.
The claws of flaw :: Peninsula wouldn’t get the appreciation that Train to Busan had gathered long ago, as there is not that much innovation being added here. It could have been stronger with the continuation of the original tale. We know that there is a lot that can get added to a post-apocalyptic world, much more than what is seen here. With all the vehicular mayhem that goes on in the end, things do get a little confusing with so much of fights between everyone. The graphics goes closer to a video game than the live action movie at times. It was surely built for the big screen, no doubt about that. The inspiration from other similar post-apocalyptic films to create this particular world cannot be ignored either. The possible messages about selfishness and sacrifice are mostly not there to stay, and are often lost. The focus on the story is not that much maintained when providing too many zombies to kill on the road.
Performers of the soul :: The cast here is led by Gang Dong-won, who manages to stay ahead with ease. He has his moments from the beginning stages itself, mostly emotional, even though that changes later. Lee Jung-hyun is the next one to catch our attention, as she plays the strong mother who has had to make some tough decisions, and lives with a purpose for her children. She goes strong with the emotional side, and becomes part of the big action very soon too. Kwon Hae-hyo adds a funny side at the same time too. Kim Do-yoon plays the brother-in-law role in a believable manner. Lee Re gets a lot of action with the vehicular mayhem, and its a glorious drive through the zombies as far as she is concerned. Those scenes could be taken right into a video game at some point. Lee Ye-won plays the young child in an interesting role. Kim Min-jae and Koo Kyo-hwan plays the two major antagonists, and they do the job well enough. Kim Kyu-baek also adds some humour here.
How it finishes :: We have waited for very long to have a sequel to Train to Busan, and here we have it – that film along with The Wailing are the two first Korean movies which I had reviewed, and that was indeed a game changing moment, the next Korean film reviewed being The Divine Fury coming much later. When Peninsula makes sure that the same zombie feeling returns, there is the similar feeling. We get to see the zombies in Korea yet again, and during the time of Corona virus pandemic, we are seeing the viral apocalypse again. It does feel different when we look at it now, after going through the COVID-19 pandemic, and seeing the viral outbreak unfold before our eyes. The movie continues the journey through the world of zombies in a way that keeps us interested, and I would recommend this film for all fans of the first one too. After all, what is better than a group of fully powered zombies in this world of quarantines and lock-downs? Especially when they come with so much of action on the streets. Well, zombies are forever too, just like vampires and werewolves.
Release date: 15th July 2020
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Yeon Sang-ho
Starring: Gang Dong-won, Lee Jung-hyun, Lee Re, Kwon Hae-hyo, Kim Min-jae, Koo Kyo-hwan, Kim Do-yoon, Lee Ye-won, Jang So-yeon, Moon Woo-jin, Kim Kyu-baek, Bella Rahim
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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.