I didn’t even know this was coming, even though I had hoped for it.
A few weeks back I received an email from the gracious folks at Well Go Entertainment asking if I would like to have a review screener of the sequel to the South Korean zombie apocalypse movie, “Train to Busan” titled “Peninsula.”
Some of you may not have watched the original “Train to Busan,” and if that is the case, I couldn’t recommend it more highly. It is one of my all-time zombie genre movies. Michael Greyeyes, star of “Blood Quantum,” the Indigenous zombie thriller in which Native people are immune, also told me in a previous interview that the movie was one of his favorites.
That said, here is my review of “Peninsula.”
My #NativeNerd scoring system
When reviewing movies, I employ the decimal system to a tenth of a point. So instead of 7 stars, I might give a 7.4 out of ten. Some movies aren’t an eight but deserve a little more than a seven.
9.5 out of 10
My quick quote: “Peninsula” is an epic blast of bloody, gory, maniacal greatness, don’t walk, run to see this movie, but also because the zombies can run faster than most of us.”
Synopsis: Four years after South Korea’s total decimation in TRAIN TO BUSAN, the zombie thriller that captivated audiences worldwide, acclaimed director Yeon Sang-ho brings us PENINSULA, the next nail-biting chapter in his post-apocalyptic world. Jung-seok, a soldier who previously escaped the diseased wasteland, relives the horror when assigned to a covert operation with two simple objectives: retrieve and survive. When his team unexpectedly stumbles upon survivors, their lives will depend on whether the best—or worst—of human nature prevails in the direst of circumstances.
'Peninsula' movie trailer graciously provided to me courtesy Well Go Entertainment
First, I highly recommend you watch “Train to Busan.” Then make your way at a very fast pace to dive into the next stage of South Korean zombie survival, its sequel “Peninsula.”
This movie, directed by the genius director Yeon Sang-Ho, lept from my movie screen and catapulted me into the story. I was captivated instantly.
I often appreciate each director’s approach to zombies, and in this South Korean version, humans, once bitten, turn into full-fledged zombies in a matter of minutes. This is a truly frightening concept that filled me with excitement as well as extreme anxiety.
“Train to Busan,” one of the best movies I have ever seen in this genre, follows a father and daughter across South Korea, looking to reunite with the girl’s mother. In a matter of hours, televisions are showing a complete dismantling of the country.
Everywhere passengers turn, zombies are popping up like mushrooms in Super Mario Brothers.
“Peninsula” is four years later. South Korea, an island of sorts for a zombie apocalypse — due to it’s militarized locked down border — may be filled with deadly zombies, but it has a lot of abandoned goodies that an unbroken North Korea wants to take advantage of. But with these spoils of an apocalypse, comes great risk.
Throw in a mash-up of “Mad Max,” “Escape From New York” and a supremely energetic population of zombies, and you have “Peninsula.” It was a thrill ride (in many places, literally) I never wanted to end.
As far as the characters, led by Dong-won Gang and Jung-Hyun Lee, there was just a bit more I wanted to be explained. Their performance was excellent, I have zero complaints, yet I wanted to know just a bit more about what happened to characters from the previous movie.
It is possible I missed a little bit in translation, yet, I would have really liked a bit more “here is where they are now” in this movie.
The above criticism is truly minor, and I really don’t have anything bad to say.
“Peninsula” was a journey I look forward to taking again right away.
The zombies were still incredibly frightening, and let’s even throw a few intimidating bad guy villains into the mix. Maybe those abandoned goodies aren’t worth such high stakes.
But the high stakes are what make this movie. And due to its extreme volatility, I really didn’t have any clue where any character might end up from one moment to the next. That was the value incarnate in this excellent film.
Because if you have nothing to lose, then why bother?
“Peninsula” was a genius of a film, filled with excellent special effects, great characters and a fantastic storyline. I highly recommend not missing this gem.
That is, as long as you don’t mind a bit of zombie gore. I sure don’t.
The movie is available in the US as of August 21st. It is available in theaters, but please be safe.
#NativeNerd Vincent Schilling is the associate editor for Indian Country Today and a film industry certified movie reviewer.
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