Peninsula | Chicago Reader
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Peninsula

Many critics noted something about South Korean writer-director Yeon Sang-ho’s 2016 zombie thriller Train to Busan—there were no guns fired in it. Lest anyone think that was some kind of statement, this loose sequel is rife with them; in Romerian fashion (Yeon has cited Land of the Dead as an inspiration), the filmmaker redefines the world he created four years earlier as a postapocalyptic hellscape placed in indefinite quarantine, with little opportunity for escape. Having found refuge in Hong Kong, former Marine Captain Jung-seok (Gang Dong-won) is lured back to the Korean peninsula, where he’s tasked with locating a truck full of cash. He finds more than he bargained for when he crosses paths with a cadre of rogue survivors and a scrappy family (including two resourceful young girls, their mother and grandfather) who save him from the miscreants; it turns out the mother, Min-jung (Lee Jung-hyun), is the woman who Jung-seok declined to rescue in the film’s opening scenes. The action largely stems from each group of survivors attempting to make it back to the ship that brought Jung-seok to Incheon, plain-dealing zombie action taking a backseat to a Mad Max-esque (another inspiration) society where the militia-knaves imprison “wild dogs”—human survivors not part of their group—and make them fight off the zombies for sport. Yeon perhaps tries too much here; many of the action sequences are phenomenal, and the two young girls are charming as all get-out, but the compelling simplicity of the previous film has been forsaken. In English and Korean with subtitles.

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