‘Peninsula’ had the honor of being the first zombie film programmed in the official selection of the Cannes Film Festival last year. It is a pity that the contest could not be held due to the pandemic, which also gives new meanings to a film that talks about infected and infections. Director Yeon Sang-ho signs the sequel to his hit ‘Train to Busan’ (2016), one of the great successes of recent Korean cinema with more than 11 million viewers in his country. The author of dazzling animated films, Yeon Sang-ho made his live-action film debut with “Train to Busan,” in which a virus created in a Korean laboratory turned the infected into zombies hungry for human flesh. All the action took place aboard a train in an adrenaline-pumping show packed with memorable images.
Four years have passed without a cure for the virus being found. The Koreans who managed to escape from their country, from the ‘peninsula’, are refugees that the rest of the world regards as plagued. The theft of a van that remains on the streets of Seoul with 20 million dollars it will be the spur to break the quarantine and enter post-apocalyptic territory. The zombies, as we have known since ’28 days later ‘, run that they are peeled. At night they are half blind, but they are guided by noise. What the protagonists did not tell is that a militia made up of the worst elements of society also survives in Seoul. And as it usually happens in the tapes of the genre, the living are more cruel than the living dead.
‘Peninsula’ lacks the freshness of its predecessor and denotes that after the ten seasons of ‘The Walking Dead’ it is difficult to surprise us with zombies. However, Yeon Sang-ho remains true to the same maxim that guided his ‘Train to Busan’: that the action does not falter for a second. The opening zombie movie gives way to what looks like a heist tape. Then we move between the carpentry echoes of ‘1997: Rescue in New York’. And from there, to the persecutions of the saga ‘Mad Max’.
The beauty of hordes of infected jumping off a bridge, pressing against a glass that illuminates the beam of a flashlight or the image of a mother hugging her recently bitten child about to be eaten demonstrate Yeon Sang-ho’s ability to impact our lives. retina. The characters are topical and in one piece: the ex-soldier traumatized by his past selfish decisions in search of redemption, the mother courage, the psychopathic villain … Throughout his almost two hours he picks at genres and references to lead us to one of those apotheosis endings in slow motion that he seeks the applause of the room. The abuse of digital effects also stuns when it comes to showing hundreds of zombies, in the style of ‘World War Z’, or in the improbable car races through the streets of Seoul with a girl at the wheel.
After a year of pandemic, it is inevitable to feel a chill when attending the dehumanization of the protagonists of ‘Peninsula’, who organize a gladiator arena with hungry undead instead of lions. Already in 1968, ‘The night of the living dead’ spoke to us in an incisive parable of the fragility of the social order and the futility of the human condition.
Yeon Sang-ho interview:
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