Movie review: Train To Busan: Peninsula
Train To Busan, the 2016 runaway zombie hit, is the highest-grossing Korean movie in Singapore to date.
So if any brand new blockbuster release can nudge us back to reopened cinemas this week after a three-month hiatus, its sequel has to be it.
And watching Peninsula amid an escalating Covid-19 pandemic just makes the whole experience extra unnerving, prescient and creepy.
The harrowing yet heartbreaking opening sequence, which picks up right where Train To Busan left off and occurs on board a ship packed with evacuees and one very unfortunate infectious case, is likely to make you rethink those post-coronavirus cruise plans.
Four years later, we follow a fresh cast of characters led by Gang Dong-won's military man, who re-enter South Korea - now a hellish, undead-infested wasteland - on a mercenary operation that predictably goes awry.
Train To Busan occupies such a beloved space in the genre because of its expertly executed high concept.
However, the final instalment of director Yeon Sang-ho's zombie trilogy - which includes Train To Busan's animated prequel Seoul Station (2016) - chugs along on more generic tracks.
It is a typical Hollywood post-apocalyptic actioner, re-animated from the parts of I Am Legend, A Quiet Place, Doomsday, Death Race, 28 Days Later and World War Z.
It is even reminiscent of the Fast & Furious franchise, with white-knuckle car chases that play out thrillingly on the big screen and would give Vin Diesel and gang a run for their money, especially when the top driver-drifter is a gutsy teenage girl (Lee Re) and her sidekick sister.
We also discover that humans (from a militia gone rogue), not zombies, are the real bad guys.
Which other species is debased enough to come up with a "zombie fight club" in a makeshift gladiatorial arena as a form of mass entertainment?
However, by changing gears, Peninsula surrenders the emotional depth of its predecessor along the way.
Gang's tormented, guilt-ridden protagonist and Gong Yoo's divorced workaholic dad have similar redemption arcs, with young kids thrown into the fray again.
But there are hardly any gut-wrenching sacrifices made this time, and instead, many instances of sheer stupidity that may make you shout.
I'm not sure if Peninsula should be anyone's idea of escapist entertainment - isn't real life enough of a horror show already?
But for starved movie buffs, this offers quite the ride. And all you need to do to stay safe is wear your mask.
FILM: Train To Busan: Peninsula
STARRING: Gang Dong-won, Lee Jung-hyun, Lee Re
DIRECTOR: Yeon Sang-ho
THE SKINNY: Set four years after a zombie outbreak sweeps across South Korea, a survivor (Gang) who now lives a life of despair in Hong Kong, returns to the quarantined peninsula to retrieve an abandoned truck. But his mission goes haywire when a mysterious militia ambushes his small team and vicious zombies get on his tail.