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4K UHD Review: TRAIN TO BUSAN Presents: PENINSULA

Nov 13 Posted by in DVD/Blu-ray, Reviews | Comments

It’s been four years since the events of Train to Busan. The Korean Peninsula has become an abandoned wasteland, overrun with deadly, fast-moving zombies. While lots of people managed to escape during the initial panic, many countries had to close their borders to the asylum seekers for fear that the virus would spread onto their shores as well. During the initial outbreak, Captain Jung-seok (Gang Dong-won) and his sister’s family managed to secure passage on a ship to Japan, but when an infected passenger was found aboard, it turned into a deadly trip. Jung-seok and his brother-in-law Chul-min (Kim Do-yoon) managed to survive and make it to Hong Kong, but the rest of their family wasn’t as fortunate. Four years later, those who escaped from the Korean peninsula are still looked upon with fear and treated like second-class citizens. Shops won’t serve them, and people scatter when they are around for fear that they could be infected. Jung-seok and Chul-min live on the streets, doing whatever they can to survive. Chul-min still holds a grudge against his bother-in-law for not saving his wife and son, and Jung-seok is still haunted by the death of his sister and the others he failed or refused to help out of fear.

The two men are offered a unique opportunity that would change their lives. A truck carrying twenty million dollars had nearly made it to the port before the peninsula was overrun by the zombies. The plan is for a ship to take Jung-seok, Chul-min and two others back to the Korean peninsula, where they would retrieve the truck with the money, and drive it to the port. In exchange they would get to keep half of the money for themselves. However, once they arrive, they will only have three days to complete the mission before the ship leaves them stranded on the zombie-infested land. The job sounds too good to be true, and perhaps it is, but they don’t really have any other opportunities knocking at their door.

While the zombies can move fast and are sensitive to sound, they are somewhat blind at night, so the team’s best chance of success is to only travel when it’s dark. However, they soon discover that finding the money is the easy part—it’s getting off the peninsula that is going to be a lot tougher. There are others who have managed to survive in this wasteland—such as a former military rescue unit that has now devolved into their own post-apocalyptic like civilization that thrives on baser instincts. When they’re not scavenging for supplies and food, the menacing Sergeant Hwang (Kim Min-jae) and his platoon entertain themselves by using other humans as fodder in their underground zombie fight club—and they are always looking for fresh meat to put in the arena.

Not every survivor on the peninsula is evil. During his mission, Jung-seok crosses paths with a family who had managed to leave Sergeant Hwang’s camp. The head of the family is Elder Kim (Kwon Hae-hyo), who lives with his daughter Min-jung (Lee Jung-hyun) and grandchildren Joon-i (Lee Re) and Yu-jin (Lee Ye-won). Four years being trapped on the peninsula has taken a toll on Kim’s mind and sanity—he is constantly on the radio, assuring his family that he is in contact with the UN, who will be coming to save them. While the family humors him, they believe if they are ever going to escape, they will need to take matters into their own hands. Min-jung and her daughters have really honed their survival skills over the past four years. Joon-i has become an expert diver who could give the Fast and the Furious team a run for their money. She is constantly flying down the streets, smashing through hordes of zombies, and drifting around corners like a professional racer. Meanwhile, her younger sister Yu-jin is an electronics whiz, building RC cars and other gadgets to help distract the zombies as needed. Jung-seok and the Kim family realize they are going to need to work together if they want to get off this peninsula alive!

Peninsula has a very different feel than Train to Busan. The first film used the confined setting of the fast-moving train to create this stressful claustrophobic atmosphere. In this sequel, the world is far more open, set in creepy, empty city streets and highways littered with abandoned vehicles, and overgrown with vegetation. Behind every corner there are literally piles of zombies just waiting to spring into action and chase you down. While slow zombies can be scary, I’ve always found quick moving creatures like these to be far more terrifying—they just flow at their target, consuming them like a crashing ocean wave (they remind me of the zombies in World War Z). And while the zombies are very much a threat, it is the other humans who pose an even greater risk. In this new world, desperate people will do anything to obtain the scarce resources, or find depraved new ways to entertain themselves to keep their mind off of their dire situation. Jung-seok and the Kim family face both of these deadly threats as they try to make their way off the peninsula.

Even though it is somewhat different from the first film, Peninsula is still a very exciting and action-packed movie—from the deadly zombie fight club arena, to the high-speed car chases through zombie-filled streets, there’s always some new threat facing our characters. At the same time, the film also does a nice job of injecting some character drama into the mix. Jung-seok is haunted by the demons and failures of his past, and sees this mission as a way to redeem himself by helping out his brother-in-law and the Kim family. At the same time, the Kims, Chul-min and the rest of Jung-seok’s team also have their own motivations and issues to work through. Back at the military camp, there’s also this interesting power dynamic between Sergeant Hwang and the others in charge, and the general level of distrust among them. This all combines to create a fun, tense and exciting follow-up to Train to Busan—though it is not necessary to have seen that film to fully enjoy this one, particularly since this sequel follows all new characters. Of these new characters, the highlights for me are easily Joon-i and Yu-jin&msah;these two make a hilarious and skilled duo who could probably take on the zombie apocalypse all on their own. While these two add a lot of comic relief to the film, Joon-i’s driving scenes also help give this sequel those tense, adrenaline-filled moments that were available in droves in the first film.

I was sent the 4K Ultra HD version of this release for review and I have to say it looks and sounds amazing! The picture looks pristine, making excellent use of color, from the blue and red neon lights and reflections in Hong Kong, to the eerie moonlit streets of the Peninsula—the film looks quite breathtaking at times. The level of detail is also very impressive, especially given how much of the film takes place at night. You can really see the textures in the actors’ faces, in the mossy and debris covered streets, in the water and blood-soaked arena, and so on. Even the fast-moving hordes of zombies look well-defined and not just as one big massive blur. The disc provides both the original Korean Dolby Atmos audio track as well as a new English DTS-HDMA 5.1 dub. For the first time watching, I chose the English dub so that I could concentrate more on the film itself rather than reading. I found the track to be very well acted and the dialogue to be quite natural. The sound effects and pulsing score really helped to build the tension and did a nice job of filling the room with sound to provide a really immersive aural experience. Afterwards, I checked out the Korean soundtrack, and was blown away. While the first track was already great, this one provided an even fuller sound, that was generally louder, with a stronger bass, and felt even more immersive—such as the sounds of flares exploding overhead, or the whoosh of the zombie hordes coming from every direction. I also noticed some differences in the dialogue between the English track and the subtitles. For example, in the English audio, Joon-i tells Jung-seok, “Hey there, need a ride?”, whereas the subtitles make a great Terminator reference, “Hop in if you want to live”. I found that each version of the dialogue had its advantages.

All of the bonus material is located on the Blu-ray disc. It consists of some trailers and about 9 minutes of interview snippets with director/writer Yeon Sang-ho, and stars Lee Jung-hyun, Lee Re and Gang Dong-won sitting together at a press junket. This is presented in Korean with English subtitles. The 4K and Blu-ray discs come packed in a standard black 4K keepcase with a slipcover. No digital copy is included.



What’s Included:

Film: (1:55:54)

    4K Ultra HD:

    • 2160 / Widescreen 2.39:1
    • Dolby Vision, HDR10
    • Audio: Korean Dolby Atmos in Dolby TrueHD, Korean Stereo, English DTS-HDMA 5.1, English Stereo
    • Subtitles: Full English, English

    Blu-ray:

    • 1080p / Widescreen 2.39:1
    • Audio: Korean Dolby Atmos in Dolby TrueHD, Korean Stereo, English DTS-HDMA 5.1, English Stereo
    • Subtitles: Full English, English

Extras:
Bonus material can only be found on the Blu-ray disc. Once started, all bonus material plays back-to-back.

  • Bonus
    • Making Of and Interviews
      Interview snippets with director/writer Yeon Sang-ho, and stars Lee Jung-hyun (“Min Jung”), Lee Re (“Joon-i”) and Gang Dong-Won (“Jung Seok”) sitting together at a press junket. Presented in Korean with English subtitles.

      • The Sequel (1:43)
        The director and cast talk about the film and how it differs from the original, Train of Busan.
      • The Action (2:31)
        The cast talk about the challenges of filming the big action sequences, while the director mentions his favorite sequence. Includes behind-the-scenes footage.
      • The Director (1:29)
        The cast talk about some of the notes they were given by the director. Includes behind-the-scenes footage.
      • The Characters (3:04)
        The actors describe their characters, while the director adds his own thoughts on the characters and performances.
    • Teaser (1:35)
    • Trailer (1:55)
  • Previews
    • Possessor Uncut (2:15)
    • Deliver Us From Evil (1:32)
    • Synchronic Teaser (1:31)

 


Final Thoughts:

My Rating
Film:
Video:
Audio:
Extras:
Recommended

Peninsula is an exciting, but somewhat different, follow-up to Train to Busan. Like the original, the film contains lot of tense, action-packed moments while also exploring some interesting character drama and relationships, and even finds some moments of humor within the deadly zombie outbreak. Well Go’s 4K Ultra HD release looks stunning and features excellent immersive audio both with the English dub, and even more-so with the original Korean language track. The bonus material is a minimal, but features some entertaining interviews with the cast and writer/director. The release comes highly recommended based on the stellar technical presentation and quality of the film itself, which I enjoyed even more the second time around. The connection between this sequel and the original film minimal, but I think fans of Train to Busan will also quite enjoy this follow-up, while those unfamiliar with the first film can still fully enjoy this one on its own.




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