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Train To Busan Presents: Peninsula - Everything You Need To Know

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Released in 2016, "Train to Busan" was a South Korean zombie flick that shook the dust off a stale genre and delivered something horrifically visceral and emotionally powerful. When the film premiered, it became a massive worldwide hit, breaking box office records in South Korea and receiving overwhelming critical praise. Of course, fans immediately wanted more undead action, and while they got the animated prequel "Seoul Station" in 2016, they were still hungry for a live-action follow-up.

Fortunately for North American horror fans, "Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula" hit the streaming service Shudder on April 1, 2021. Interestingly, "Peninsula" isn't a straight-up sequel but rather a standalone movie that takes place in the same universe as the first film. So while there aren't any familiar faces returning from "Train to Busan," there is plenty of zombie action and serious life-or-death stakes. If you want to know more about the film's cast, what critics thought about the Korean flick, and what exactly goes down in "Train to Busan 2," then read on for everything you need to know about "Peninsula."

What is the plot of Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula?

Set four years after "Train to Busan," "Peninsula" follows the guilt-ridden Jung-seok. A soldier who escaped South Korea before it was closed off from the world, Jung-seok can't forgive himself for a loved one's death. Our haunted protagonist now lives in Hong Kong, where refugees are treated like second-class citizens. However, he's given a chance at a better life when the mob makes him an offer he can't refuse. 

Back in the South Korean city of Incheon, there's a truck filled with $20 million. If Jung-Seok can head over to the Korean peninsula and come back with the money, then everything's golden. Accompanied by a team of refugees — including his brother-in-law, Chul-min — Jung-seok heads back to his home country to find a wasteland filled with murderous monsters ... as well as zombies.

Those who've watched George Romero's movies or "The Walking Dead" know that humanity is always the biggest threat in the zombie apocalypse, and Jung-seok will find himself up against some psychotic militiamen who get their kicks by forcing people to face off against the infected. However, not everyone in this world is mad, as Jung-seok also encounters a family of survivors among all the chaos. With their help, he'll brave this "Mad Max"-style world and hopefully survive the combined assault of the living and the dead.

Who stars in Peninsula?

Since "Peninsula" isn't a straight-up sequel — and since almost everyone died in the first film — don't expect any returning characters from "Train to Busan." Instead, "Peninsula" features an all-new cast, led by Gang Dong-won, who plays Jung-seok, the former soldier who heads back to zombie-infested South Korea. As an actor, Gang has a long career in South Korean cinema, including roles in the political drama "1987: When the Day Comes," the action thriller "Golden Slumber," and 2022's critically acclaimed "Broker."

He's joined here by Lee Jung-hyun in the role of Min-jeong, who leads her own crew of survivors in a relentless fight to stay alive. Since her acclaimed film debut at the age of 16 in "A Petal," Lee has experienced great professional success, working steadily as both an actress in films like "Decision to Leave" and as a celebrated singer in South Korea.

In addition to these two big names, "Peninsula" features a strong ensemble cast, including Kwon Hae-hyo ("The Day After"), Kim Min-jae ("My Sassy Girl"), Koo Kyo-hwan ("Escape From Mogadishu"), Re Lee ("Witch's Court"), Yee-Won Lee ("Romang"), Kim Do-yoon ("The Wailing"), Jang So-yeon ("The Village: Achiara's Secret"), Kim Kyu-baek ("Parasite"), and Moon Woo-jin ("Vagabond"). The movie also features names such as Geoffrey Giuliano ("Squid Game"), John D. Michaels ("Squid Game"), Daniel Joey Albright ("Space Sweepers"), and Milan-Devi LaBrey ("Space Sweepers").

Who directed the Train to Busan sequel?

After the success of "Train to Busan," director Yeon Sang-ho decided to return with "Peninsula." Granted, he was initially reluctant to revisit the horrific world he'd created in the first film, afraid he wouldn't be able to capture that same sort of magic. But once he realized "Peninsula" didn't have to be a direct sequel and could instead serve as more of a spiritual successor, it opened the creative floodgates.

Speaking with our very own David L. Lebovitz, the filmmaker explained, "I threw away the notion of creating a sequel to 'Train to Busan' and told myself I was creating a completely new movie. At the same time, it was a movie that had not been created before, so we had to come up with new production solutions in order to create scenes like the CGI car chase scene near the depiction of a ruined Korea." 

The director elaborated on this a bit more with ScreenDaily, saying, ""The idea of being able to build a post-apocalyptic world — which would be sort of savage but also in a way like ancient times or like ruined modern times, with rules of its own — was interesting to me. There could be many stories that could keep coming out of that world. Destroyed, isolated, extreme, but with hope of escape and humanism, and the way world powers would look at this place. There could be a lot of material with a lot of greater significance."

He also revealed to Gizmodo that he was heavily influenced by an iconic anime film, telling the publication that "Akira" helped him create some memorable visuals. "The latter half of ['Akira] where Special Forces infiltrated post-apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo after Akira's second explosion was a big motif for me."

What do critics and audiences think about Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula?

"Train to Busan" is one of the greatest zombie movies ever made, universally adored by critics and audiences alike. Unfortunately, when it comes to the critical consensus, "Peninsula" doesn't quite live up to the first film or even the anime prequel, "Seoul Station." The film currently has a 55% critics' rating on Rotten Tomatoes, versus the 94% for "Train to Busan" and the 100% for "Seoul Station."

So what didn't critics like about the live-action follow-up? Well, as Chris Stuckmann put it in his review, "I feel like [director Yeon Sang-ho] misunderstood what he had the first time around. It seemed like he was just trying to make a 'Hollywood' movie [for the sequel], and that's really not what made the first film so great." However, there were a fair amount of critics who enjoyed "Peninsula," such as Dolores Quintana who wrote, "'Peninsula' is an exciting and emotionally honest zombie film. It is a worthy successor to the rightly venerated 'Train To Busan.' It is a celebration of all the good things in human beings and the importance of human lives."

As for audiences, they seem similarly divided on the film. Over on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has a 76% audience approval rating based on 100+ reviews. But on IMDb, the movie has a much less impressive 5.5 stars out of 10, based on 35,000 votes. In short, much like the Korean peninsula itself, audiences are split in half when it comes to the "Train to Busan" sequel.

Is there a trailer for Train to Busan 2?

The official trailer for "Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula" promises a dark and moody world, full of grotesque monsters and action-packed fight scenes. It opens with our hero, Jung-seok, walking through the streets of Incheon, assault rifle in hand. Then — to his horror — he stumbles upon a pile of distorted zombies, squished against glass and desperately, hungrily trying to break free.

From there, we only descend deeper into madness, as we see South Korea has been reduced to a post-apocalyptic state. We witness "Fury Road"-style car chases and watch as prisoners are forced to survive in an "Escape From New York"-style cage. And, of course, there are about a bajillion zombies tearing through alleyways, leaping from overpasses, and looking to devour our outnumbered heroes.

If the trailer doesn't whet your appetite for the "Train to Busan" sequel, then chances are pretty good you're a member of the undead horde.

Where to watch the Train to Busan movies

If you're ready to head back to a world of undead monsters, then you'll need to know where to find "Peninsula." Currently, the film is available to stream on AMC+, Kanopy, and Shudder. It's also available to rent on sites like Amazon Video, Apple TV, Google Play, YouTube, and Vudu.

Now, if you want to travel back to where the series all started, you've got to check out "Train to Busan." The highly acclaimed horror film is widely available, with gore hounds able to stream the intense flick on sites like Prime Video, Peacock, AMC+, Tubi, Kanopy, Shudder, and Freevee.

Lastly, there's the animated prequel "Seoul Station," which takes place in the immediate lead-up to the zombie pandemic. You can stream the anime on Tubi, Kanopy, and Freevee, and you can rent it on sites such as Amazon Video, Vudu, Apple TV, Google Play, and YouTube.