SQUID GAME gets 10/10 A game for adults

Directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk

Starring Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Wi Ha-joon, Jung Ho-yeon, O Yeong-su, Heo Sung-tae, Anupam Tripathi, Kim Joo-ryoung


Squid Game is the Netflix series right now. Almost immediately after its release, the South Korean-made series has blown up in popularity globally, becoming one of the most talked-about shows this year. It is rare for an Asian production to capture the world’s attention in such a way, but with the level of detail, acting, and emotional impact it delivers, the hype is well and truly deserved.

Squid Game sets the scene with more than four hundred people, all deep in financial crisis, who compete in classic Korean children’s games for a whopping ₩4.6 billion (over $5 million Australian) in prize money. The catch, however, is that the penalty of losing is death, and with several characters with their own needs for the prize, it’s difficult to root for a single one.

The series follows Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae), a gambling addict with a history of bad luck and currently living with his mother, wanting custody of his daughter before she moves to the US. In the beginning he seems like a generic desperate man down on his luck, but throughout the series he grows into a more empathetic character, where despite being in deep financial debt he continues to care for his friends and suspects the best from them.

While the concept of a death game has grown a little generic in recent years with Alice in Borderland (2020) and Escape Room (2019), Squid Game offers enough new ideas to keep things interesting. The games aren’t the mainstay of the series and aren’t kept secret, instead it’s the character’s development and relationships that are prevalent, while the emotional heartbreak throughout wretches the strings.

There are also details and little clues throughout each episode that audiences probably didn’t notice or ignored when they first came up. Watching Squid Game a second time therefore reveals certain moments that make more sense when put into context. The acting is just about perfect, capturing every minor action and facial expressions that build up and emphasise the character’s personalities, making them realistic to the audience.

Desperation for financial gain to escape current circumstances is the key concept of Squid Game. The plot emphasises how much money can affect a person, from their lifestyle to their mentality, which can be seen in each and every character. An example of this is how the participants initially leave the game, only to return when they realise it’s better to compete due to their circumstances.

Squid Game is a series of mystery and suspense, an allegory on the effects money has on people and how much we rely on it. It’s an emotional journey that rewards repeat viewing, and packs enough punch to make you clench up in anticipation and tear up in heartbreak.


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