Train to Busan was a huge hit when it was released, and with good reason. The South Korean film industry continues to produce some of the best horror movies every year, and Train to Busan infused action, zombies, and redemption into a two-hour movie that didn’t let up from the start. It set the stakes, built up the tension, and unleashed the action. And it threw a lot of surprises at us along the way.
Train to Busan 2: Peninsula picks up well after the events from the first movie. It starts with Captain Jung-Seok trying to escape the zombie uprising with his sister and nephew. He has to make some tough decisions, which include leaving innocent civilians behind. Despite those choices, things don’t go well, and four years later, Jung-Seok is still mired in grief over his losses. He’s recruited by a gangster to go back to Busan and recover a truckload of money left behind. Jung-Seok and his crew are promised a share of the money, which will give them the means to escape life as a refugee in Hong King.
Now, it’s Train to Busan 2, so of course it seems like an easy mission and of course it starts out smoothly. Things are going well … until they aren’t. Shit turns sideways in a hurry, and this movie has some Mad Mad Beyond Thunderdome and Walking Dead vibes as it lays the foundation for the critical events. Jung-Seok, and his whole team, will soon learn that whether you’re brave or cowardly, sometimes the outcome is the same.
One of the best things about this movie is that it’s filled with bad ass female characters who take charge, even when the men around them are overwhelmed and falling apart. The women in this apocalypse get shit done.
It wasn’t just the strength of the female characters that I appreciated, though. The trauma Jung-Seok has experienced feels real, and it isn’t glossed over. Peninsula doesn’t flinch from PTSD, and it shows us how past experiences can impact current choices.
If there’s a niggle, it’s the CGI in the car chase scenes. In the end, my husband and I talked about whether it was a deliberate choice. It, along with some other elements in the story, had a bit of a video game vibe, and we wondered if the CGI was meant to emulate a video game look and feel. Either way, for me it was a very small niggle.
In a year without a lot of new releases, Pensinula was the kick-ass, action-packed story I needed, and I appreciated that the characters felt anchored and real, and I was fully immersed in their world. Pensinsula is streaming online and well worth the price of admission. It should be noted that if you’re looking for a replica of Train to Busan, you won’t find that here. The creators did not remake the first movie. This one has a very different look and feel; it’s much darker, although it still has moments that will tug at your heart strings.