Well Go USA has released Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula (2020) by South Korean Director Sang-ho Yeon to home media formats including Digital, Blu-ray, 4k Blu-ray and DVD. The film is a follow-up to Train to Busan (2016), also by Sang-ho Yeon, taking viewers four years after the events in Train to Busan that left South Korea devastated.
In Peninsula, starring Dong-Won Gang, Jung-hyun Lee, and Re Lee, zombies have spread across the country making it almost impossible to travel there. Former military officer Jung Seok (played by Dong-Won Gang), is enlisted by a crime organization to locate a delivery truck loaded with $20M in US cash. When he arrives with a small crew they are overtaken by a local gang, but a teenage girl named Jooni rescues him from the thugs and an onslaught of zombies.
Peninsula is classified as a horror film, but it’s really more of an action film and about as much of a horror film as World War Z (on less than a 10th of the budget). Yes, there are zombies and plenty of them. But the script of the film really centers more on the good guy vs. bad guy motif where the zombies are just a backdrop.
Critics have found much to complain about in Peninsula, often noting the CGI looks really low-budget. Some of the feel-good Hollywood-type moments didn’t seem to fit, and the sped-up car chases were sort of ridiculous (and may remind you of vintage James Bond films where the action had to be enhanced with film tricks). However, there is plenty to enjoy in Peninsula.
I found the post-apocalypic scenery and cinematography to be well done. The gladiator pit where non-infected humans get thrown in with packs of hungry zombies is kind of fun. And, watching Jooni (Re Lee) mow down hundreds of zombies in her banged up SUV is another highlight (she really knows how to use that emergency brake!). I also found the Flamenco music playing behind one of the car chases to be hilarious.
This is a review of the 4k Blu-ray edition of Peninsula which showed impressive video resolution and color depth, albeit not always constent. One consistency issue we found was in the shadow areas where the black levels are often compressed and lacking details in several scenes. But most of the color range looks good. The overall image quality of the movie is no doubt aided by the excellent cinematograpahy by Hyung-deok Lee (Train to Busan), where you’ll find careful attention to details in every shot (check out the still image of the grounded ship) and images that are carefully framed and lit (see the image of Jung Seok in the backseat of the SUV with subtle image of Jooni in the front).
In 2160p resolution and with HDR on TVs and devices that support it, Peninsula has sharpness and color depth that improves upon the 1080p Blu-ray. That isn’t to say the Blu-ray Disc doesn’t look good (you can even get close to the color saturation by boosting your TV’s settings), but the sharpness superiority is definitely noticeable. And, there is much more detail in the shadow areas with HDR on the 4k BD. The 24p BT.2020 HEVC video generally streamed between 32Mbps and 64Mbps – peaking at about 84Mbps.
The soundtrack to both the Blu-ray and 4k Blu-ray discs feature immersive Dolby Atmos which takes advantage of object-based audio that can position sound around a given space including overhead. Peninsula is a South Korean film but for English speakers there is a dubbed track, albeit only in 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio. Subtitles are included in Full English or English.
Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and other multi-channel immersive audio formats are best enjoyed with a multi-speaker surround system that can take advantage of multiple channel formats including 5.1, 7.1 and Atmos (built on the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 encoding), but there is technology in soundbars that can bounce effects off ceilings to imitate what a truly immersive audio theater might sound like.
Overall, Peninsula offers a well-balanced audio mix with some decent spatial effects here and there. Car crashes, gun shots and other low frequency sounds deliver with robustness through subwoofers. The soundtrack by South Korean composer Mowg varies from being creepy to triumphant, with deep drums occasionally beating in the background adding to the more dramatic moments. Audio streams averaged between 6Mbps and 7.8Mbps.
Bonus material on the Blu-ray and DVD (not on the Ultra HD Blu-ray) include a “Making Of” featurette, interviews with cast and crew, and trailers. There isn’t much to see except several clips from a single interview with Director Sang-ho Yeon and three main actors Dong-Won Gang, Jung-hyun Lee, and Re Lee. The interview is in Korean, but there are English subtitles. And, the Blu-ray Disc includes several previews for other movies distributed by Well Go.
The 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray and Blu-ray combo packs include a second disc (either a Blu-ray or DVD, respectively). The only thing that is kind of disappointing is that Well Go USA doesn’t include digital copies with their disc releases. But this is not uncommon with smaller and more niche distributors such as Well Go, Arrow and Shout! Factory.
Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula is an entertaining film that would probably be better experienced in theaters, but during Covid-19 times most people will likely see it on smaller screens (unless you’ve got a 10’ projector set up at home!). The action scenes are fun and main characters interesting enough to make the plot work. Peninsula isn’t really a zombie film in the classic sense, but the presence of the undead gives the movie a much-needed sub-plot to support the main story that is best categorized in the action genre. If you haven’t already seen Train to Busan we definitely suggest checking it out. The movie is rated much higher by professional and amateur critics alike, but unfortunately not available on 4k Blu-ray.