Monday, November 16, 2020

Peninsula Offers a Path to Redemption: A Film Review

*full disclosure: a Blu-ray screener of this film was provided by Well Go USA.

Director: Sang-ho Yeon.

Writers: Sang-ho Yeon and Ryu Yong-jae.

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula or the simpler Peninsula takes place four years after a viral pandemic. Shot in Incheon, South Korea, this third film in the series is set squarely in the action genre. As a rag-tag group of mercenaries try to retrieve some U.S. cash, gangsters roam the car strewn city streets. Very much a comic styled actioner, Peninsula also wears its influences on its sleeves, with nods to films like: I Am Legend (2007), Fury Road (2015), Land of the Dead (2005) and others. There is even a moral message here of redemption, with protagonist Jung Seok (Dong-Won Gang) given a second chance. And, Peninsula is as it should be - very entertaining!

The comic book style of the film can be seen in its: lighting, settings and characters. Many of the interior sets are lit up with many different colours and many of the interiors look bright, like the pages of a comic book. As well, the external city settings look the opposite - very dark and drab as if shot in a cemetery; everything looks dead, outside. Also, the characters are very over-the-top, like the crazy Grandpa. Grandpa is still hoping for a rescue, which is never coming. His use of the radio is just an act of despair. And, all of these film elements together make for an action packed comic strip.

The story is a bit light in plot. Korea has been lost to the zombie hordes. But, several mercenaries are tasked, by a local Hong Kong gang, to enter Incheon - to retrieve bundles of U.S. dollars (millions worth). This group of mercenaries must face another gang, called Unit 631, before making their escape with the cash. Almost nothing goes to plan, with competing groups struggling to secure the money.

In the meantime, writers Sang-ho and Ryu Yong-jae make a few nods to the zombie films that have come before. Zombie film fans will notice a similar evacuation scene in I Am Legend. Instead of helicopters, there are ships to take refugees to safety and events do not go well for those on the lower passenger decks. There is also a nod to Romero's Land of the Dead with the cage matches. Humans are pitted against zombies, while the crowd cheers the action ever onwards. Some humans are helped by others, which happens in both films. Finally, this viewer could not help but notice the long chase scenes that look influenced by George Miller's Fury Road. The suped-up cars are armoured and customized for the apocalypse in each film. All of these influences and probably more give a nod to some of the zombie films that have risen before Peninsula.

This film fan also enjoyed the moral message, which is of redemption. Jung Seok leaves a family behind, in a time of chaos; the family's outcome is uncertain, in a zombie apocalypse. After this, the hero loses someone(s) close to him, but is given a second chance in Incheon. Here, he is given the opportunity to right his wrongs and to "help the weak." Whether the hero chooses well will be left up to viewers, whom should see this film, if they like this style of zombie actioner.

Peninsula has already released in a couple of formats, thanks to Well Go USA. Now, this title is set for a 4K Blu-ray combo release this November 24th. Peninsula is a great film for fans of character driven action. A bit light in plot, this films is continually visually stunning, even though the use of CGI is heavy. A story of redemption helps liven the script as Incheon offers lots of antagonists: zombies, gangsters and corrupt soldiers. There is only one choice to make with Peninsula and that is whether to watch this amazing title, or forget about it (not recommended).

Overall: 7.5 out of 10.

*the Blu-ray offers a dubbed and subtitled version.

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula at Well Go USA: Peninsual w/More Release Details at Well Go USA

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