Movie review: Peninsula - Train to Busan 2... sort of

Lead actor Gang Dong-won
Lead actor Gang Dong-won

Fast-paced dialogue, action and zombies make for a thrilling watch

By David Light

Published: Thu 20 Aug 2020, 3:36 PM

Last updated: Mon 24 Aug 2020, 1:13 PM

What's a zombie's favourite shampoo? Head and Shoulders. And when it comes to the Train to Busan universe, the undead featured therein are notorious for being considerably more talented or 'head and shoulders' above their contemporaries. Across the genre the relentless monsters can vary in capabilities. Some are painfully slow, others able to work rudimentary machinery, but in this franchise the chompy chaps are blisteringly quick, even giving a decent account of themselves in a martial arts bout. 
It was with great anticipation, therefore, when we heard T2B's sequel of sorts, Peninsula, would be the inaugural returning blockbuster to VOX Cinemas UAE. From this week forward a major new movie will lead us into the weekend. Next Thursday it's the much-anticipated Christopher Nolan epic Tenet, and in the coming weeks we can look forward to Disney's live-action Mulan and Daniel Craig's final James Bond outing, No Time To Die, but this three-day holiday it's Peninsula and what a way to blow away the cobwebs.

Taking place four years after the original, Peninsula carries the story forward with new characters. Able to flee the initial Korean outbreak on a boat to Hong Kong, army captain Jung-seok (Gang Dong-won) has spent his time in China living as a refugee in limbo - picking up odd jobs and fighting discrimination. His brother-in-law, who also made the crossing, has fallen in with the local mafia who hatch a plan. With the whole of Korea left to rot, rendered out-of-bounds as a result of its zombie take-over, the banks containing still-valid US currency and precious materials are sitting unguarded. The scheme: to land four local experts in Incheon port to collect bags of cash and get out of there as quickly as possible for 50 per cent of the loot. Jung-seok and his bro are in.          

The foursome enter their former home and initially handle the hordes of walking dead with some skill. All goes well until they happen upon an unforeseen enemy - lawless humans who have continued to survive oblivious to the fact the world has abandoned them.    
From its opening traditional zombie tropes to evolving into a Mad Max dystopian view of people lacking law and order (complete with Road Warrior vehicles and chases), Peninsula is a triumph. Jump scares are kept to a minimum, sacrificed for more intense human-undead battles. Special effects are believable even under the scrutiny of an IMAX audience, and the acting is spot on from the lead and Lee Jung-hyun who plays one of the few rays of light amidst the sick rabble left behind. Most of all, however, as Parasite proved earlier this year for those unaware of the country's output, anything coming out of Korea right now is good value at double the ticket price.

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