Peninsula is the (kind of) sequel to the excellent 2016 Korean Zombie movie Train to Busan. I say kind of because, well, it is only kind of a sequel. It is set in the same universe, four years after the events of Train, but features no returning characters and only barely references the first film, mainly Busan itself.

I think this actually hurt itself by being marketed as a Train to Busan sequel, because that movie was just so damn good. Literally one of the best Zombie films of the decade. This is even marketed in the US as “Train to Busan presents: Peninsula”, so you’re just setting people up for disappointment because they go in with sky high expectations. They should have just marketed it as Peninsula and then put easter eggs in the movie itself to connect it to Busan.

As for the movie itself, it’s okay. It feels like a blend of Mad Max 2, the Dawn of the Dead remake with just a sprinkle of Fast and Furious 5 and just the tiniest pinch of Beyond Thunderdome. You might think “well, that sounds great”, and at times it is. But it ultimately leaves the movie too unfocused. Sure, there are some excellent action sequences but with the movie spread so thin, it’s hard to care about anything that is actually going on. What I mean by that is that there are so many characters and subplots, that I ended up not caring about any of them like I should have. I don’t want to compare it to Busan but I feel I must. The difference is in Busan, the story is so focused on the father and daughter and you get one setting; the train; it makes the movie that much tighter and focused. Peninsula could’ve used that.

The makeup design is great on this as the zombies look very scary. It’s a shame that that’s where the practical effects end. The film, weirdly, decides to go completely overboard with the CGI, including full car chases done completely with CGI. I get having specific settings via CGI/green screen but then normally you’d map out your car chase and have a stunt driver go through it, not CGI the cars as well. It looks completely unconvincing and ruins what could’ve been a really fun sequence.

The acting is still pretty solid, including from the young child actor Lee Ye-won. Kang Dong-won is good in the lead role, and is supported well by Lee Jung-hyun and Lee Re. Unfortunately the emotional moments that should hit us just don’t resonate due to the lack of character depth. I will say, if given the option, absolutely go subtitles over dubbed version (it’s like the old anime rule; subs over dubs) as the dubbing in this is really not good.

I think if you can go into Peninsula with somewhat lowered expectations, there are plenty of things to enjoy. This isn’t some heartless straight-to-DVD action movie that you see Bruce Willis constantly pumping out; Yeon Sang-ho, the writer/director of both this and Train to Busan, was clearly passionate about this project, and I respect him for swinging for the fences and going for something completely different to it’s predecessor. But in the grand scheme of things, this is a disappointment.

Peninsula is available in the US on DVD, blu-ray and is streaming on Shudder. It will launch on Shudder in New Zealand sometime in early 2021.