PENINSULA is an exciting and emotionally honest zombie film. It is a worthy successor to the rightly venerated Train To Busan. It is a celebration of all the good things in human beings and the importance of human lives.
The film is agile, the characters become functional for the development of the plot, and for the action, it takes advantage of all the visual resources to a large extent without clashing towards the end. Peninsula is best considered a stand-alone action zombie film… Audiences willing to overlook the egregious CGI and familiar narrative will discover a solidly entertaining action film with a number of thrilling sequences.
The story has some potential with interesting themes on human greed and sacrifice when all else is lost. Director Yeon Sang-ho’s Peninsula is a solid follow up to his original, with just about enough shambling momentum to distract from a fairly uninspired plot. There is a lot to like about PENINSULA, with co-writer/director Yeon refining his ability for staging action that was already engaging.
… Peninsula doesn’t follow any individuals from Busan which frees up the narrative to explore any number of themes or motivations. This may frustrate Busan fans who loved the small nature of the film, but will delight general audiences …fans of Train to Busan are unlikely to be disappointed by more (of the same) well-executed remixing of other filmmakers’ routines.
The action is high-speed and fairly relentless.
Fasten your seat belt and don’t blink.
Gang Dong-won as Jung-seok
A former South Korean Marine Corps Captain, who feels guilt for not saving his nephew and sister.
Lee Jung-hyun as Min-jung
A mysterious lady who had seen Jung-seok four years back while attempting to get out of Korea.
Kwon Hae-hyo as Elder Kim
The father of Min-jung, and grandfather of Joon and Yu-jin, who attempts to radio out of Busan.
Kim Min-jae as Sergeant Hwang
The sergeant of Unit 631 and co-manager of an underground fight club, who leads alongside Seo.
Koo Kyo-hwan as Captain Seo
The captain of Unit 631 and the cynical head of an underground fight club, who went insane years after the virus ravaged Korea.
A zombie outbreak occurs in South Korea, where the government is overwhelmed in a day. Korea Marine Captain Jung-seok drives his family members to a ship. On the way, he encounters a couple with a young daughter, but he ignores their pleas for help as the man is bleeding. Jung-seok’s family board a ship where an infected man turns into a zombie and infects several people in a cabin, including Jung-seok’s nephew Dong-hwan. Jung-seok’s sister refuses to leave Dong-hwan, so Jung-seok closes off the cabin while zombies bite her. Jung-seok stops his brother-in-law Chul-min from entering as armed soldiers arrive. Other nations contain the outbreak by quarantining South Korea.
Four years later in Hong Kong, a guilt-ridden Jung-seok and Chul-min are recruited by Chinese mobsters for a mission with two other Koreans to return to South Korea and retrieve a truck containing US$20 million; if successful, they will supposedly receive half of the money. The team arrives at the peninsula at night by boat and finds the truck. The team fends off and kills the zombie truck driver, making noises that attract more zombies. Jung-seok shoots several, and the team escapes.
On the way back to Incheon Port, the team is ambushed by a rogue militia, Unit 631, which uses light to attract more zombies, leading to the team crashing their vehicles. Jung-seok is thrown out of the truck while Chul-min hides in it. The other members of the team are killed, one due to the crash, and one by Unit 631 leader Sergeant Hwang. Jung-seok is rescued by two sisters in a car: Joon, a skilled driver who is adept at manipulating and killing zombies, and young Yu-jin. They return to their hideout, joining their grandfather Elder Kim and mother Min-jung. Jung-Seok realizes Min-jung and Yu-jin were part of the family he refused to help four years ago.
Meanwhile, Unit 631 take the truck to their compound. They imprison Chul-min, forcing him to take part in two-minute survival games between unarmed prisoners and the zombies. Private Kim discovers the truck’s cash and informs Captain Seo, who contacts the mobsters and hatches a plan to escape the peninsula with the truck, keeping the plan a secret from the rest of Unit 631. Meanwhile, Min-jung learns from Jung-seok that the mobsters’ ship is at Incheon Port waiting to extract him and the truck. She decides to steal the truck to escape with her family and Jung-seok.
The following evening, Jung-seok and Min-jung attempt to steal the truck. While holding Private Kim at gunpoint, Jung-seok learns that Chul-min is alive, and interrupts a survival game to rescue him, killing several zombies and Unit 631 soldiers. Chul-min saves Jung-seok from being bitten, then Sergeant Hwang kills Chul-min. Min-jung fends off Captain Seo and saves Jung-seok from Unit 631. Min-jung and Jung-seok escape the compound in the truck, but are blocked by zombies. In their car, Joon, Yu-jin and Elder Kim distract the zombies to free the truck.
Using their vehicles, Unit 631 gives chase, while zombies attack the humans. The family and Jung-seok successfully disable the pursuing vehicles, causing Sergeant Hwang to be overwhelmed by zombies. Captain Seo, who had killed Private Kim, ambushes the family at Incheon Port and holds Joon hostage. Yu-jin distracts Seo to free Joon. Elder Kim protects Yu-jin; but Seo mortally shoots him, wounds Min-jung in the leg and escapes with the truck to the ship. The mobsters betray Seo and shoot him. As he dies, Seo reverses the truck to keep the ship’s cargo hold open, allowing the zombies outside to enter and kill the mobsters.
The family signals a passing United Nations Chinook helicopter. The injured Min-jung stays behind to clear a path for Jung-seok, Joon and Yu-jin to escape the zombies. They safely reach the helicopter, where U.N. troops refuse to help Min-jung. Surrounded by zombies, Min-jung prepares to kill herself.
Jung-seok remembers Chul-min saying that Jung-seok did not do his best to save their family, and is spurred to help Min-jung. Min-jung decides to live, and she escapes the zombies with Jung-seok’s assistance. The family, Jung-seok, and the U.N. troops leave the peninsula in the helicopter.
Initial release: January 5, 2016
Directors: Jo Gyu-jang, Cho Kyujang
Music by: Kim Tae-seong
Box office: US$4.5 million
Written by: Min So-yeon; Jo Kyu-jang