'Ghoul' stirred up my interest in Indian horror: South Korean filmmaker Yeon Sang-ho. Image Source: IANS News

Train To Busan Presents: Peninsula : ; Cast: Gang Dong-won, Lee Jung-hyun, Kwon Hae-hyo, Kim Min-jae, Koo Kyo-hwan; Direction: Yeon Sang-ho; Rating: * * and 1/2 (two and a half stars)BY VINAYAK CHAKRAVORTY The market logistics driving this sequel is blatant in the way it has been named. Officially (and quite unimaginatively), the film is called Train To Busan Presents: Peninsula.

Sequel to the 2016 South Korean horror thriller Train To Busan, Peninsula comes across as just another zombie flick. It is the sort of follow-up that is produced solely because the first film was a remarkable hit. There ought to be at least one more solid reason to follow up a popular film -- ideally, an engaging story.

As a follow-up to an original that reorganised mainstream Korean horror in many ways, Peninsula is a quickfix formality overflowing with lots of CGI effects and standard scare action sprinkled with a hint of gore.

You could argue it isn't always fair to compare an original with a follow-up, so let's cut to the bone: Peninsula is bigger than Train To Busan but only in terms of cliches, chaos and confusion.

Not much of a storyline cushions all of the above. The film opens about four years after the zombie attack in Train To Busan. The Korean peninsula is now overrun by zombies, and a former soldier named Jung Seok (Dong-won Gang) is assigned the rather improbable task of going back into zombieland to retrieve US$20 million lying in a truck.

As Jung Seok and his team go back into dangerous territory, they encounter survivors. Most of what follows is zombie action drama formula.

Korean cinema banks bigtime on family on one side and gangsters on the other, as tropes to push plots across genres. Peninsula is no exception. The prototype daughter, sister, grandfather, nephew, even an estranged brother-in-law are thrown in, as are familiar gangsters, though not much character development happens and every other character suffers from half-baked writing. It is a reason the cast comes across as rather ordinary.

There is a lot of action, and if watching non-stop violence is your idea of entertainment, go for it. The surfeit of stunts, however, contributes little to the plot progression. Rather, it disturbs the storytelling process in most places.

In the year of the pandemic, a zombie drama as Peninsula should have been an instant winner. The purported thriller struggles to make the cut, and that's not quite a thrilling proposition for Train To Busan fans.

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