From memes, Tiktok clips to YouTube video edits, Squid Game is taking the television wonderland by storm right now, and more people are catching up to see what everyone is talking about. Some of them are the ones who’ll probably spoil the show for those who haven’t watched it, too. All jokes aside, Squid Game isn’t the first (and won’t be the last) to bring a bloody and action-packed story to our screens.
The nine-part Netflix original director and writer, Hwang Dong-hyuk, reveals its inception was in 2008 and 2009. Fun fact; Squid Game was supposedly a feature film, Hwang tells Variety in an interview. Alice in Borderland, The Hunger Games, Liar Game, we can go on and on listing down other series or films with a deadly survival theme. But does it make Squid Game less binge-worthy? Absolutely not. Squid Game is still a show that you can enjoy.
Are you still reading? Okay, good. Fret not! An effort to keep this zone spoiler-free is now in full effect.
Korean Name: 오징어게임
Genre: Action, Drama, Survival
Number of Episodes: 9 episodes
Episode Length: 32-63 minutes
Recommended For: Viewers who love seeing likable characters get what they don’t deserve.
NOT Recommended For: People who are a sucker for pixie dust, flying unicorns, and rainbows. Basically, a happy ending.
Lee Jung Jae as Seong Gi-hun
Park Hae Soo as Cho Sangwoo
Oh Yeong Su as Oh Il Nam
HoYeon Jung as Kang Sae-byeok
Heo Sung Tae as Jang Deok-su
Anupam Tripathi as Abdul Ali
Kim Joo-ryoung as Han Mi-nyeo
People from different walks of life were brought together in a survival competition called the Squid Game, where a ₩45.6 billion prize awaits the ultimate winner. However, winning the game is only the tip of what they should worry about.
At this point, people shouldn’t be surprised why streaming giants like Netflix are partnering with production houses from South Korea to produce series like the Squid Game. K-dramas have already solidified their status as one of the most popularly consumed forms of entertainment on a global scale. While some K-dramas tend to suffer from bad writing, others still manage to stand out. The Squid Game is one of them.
The show’s plot managed to hook the viewers’ attention. A bloody survival game where you play children’s games to win a hefty amount of cash? Its plotline is enough to raise questions on your head on how these hundreds of contestants will make it out alive without losing their sanity or morals. Not to mention, the participants are all trying to leave their living hellholes.
Episode by episode, Squid Game reveals the classic trope of rich folks playing with the lives of those beneath them. They use people’s desperation and fear to satisfy their boredom in a more gruesome way. There are also themes of organ trafficking and humans being monsters at their highest form. It’s sick, but there’s an ounce of truth to it.
Squid Game‘s conclusion leaves so much room for another season. After all, some parts of the show were left unanswered. Overall, Squid Game isn’t fragmented. Some parts were a little predictable but necessary for the story to progress.
Characters and Performance
The casting for this series is stellar. You have a gambling addict (Seong Gi-hun); a Seoul National University graduate who’s now facing fraud charges (Cho Sangwoo); a former North Korean defector aiming to start anew (Kang Sae-byeok); A Pakistani struggling to make ends meet for their family (Abdul Ali); and then you have an elderly man (played by Oh Il Nam) entering the game for adventure’s sake or at least that’s what it seems.
How can you forget Jang Deok-su (played by Heo Sung Tae) and Han Mi-nyeo (played by Kim Joo-ryoung), whom you can’t help but loathe to the core? All the main actors gave justice to their respective characters, which should be expected considering more than half of the main casts are veterans.
Lee Jung Jae and Park Hae Soo were portraying different personas but somehow managed to complement one another. Their characters are both at wits’ end, but unlike the former, Sangwoo is deadset to win no matter how he gets there. Gi-hun, as the main character, was given the treatment of still having a heart. One might argue that Gi-hun knew what he signed up for, but at the same time, human emotions are realistically unpredictable.
HoYeon is another revelation of the show because prior to acting, she’s working as a model. Seeing her embody Sae Byeok’s grit and feisty attitude was one of Squid Game‘s highlights. The supporting characters did a great job, too, like Ji-Yeong (played by Lee Yoo-mi) and Hwang Joon-ho (played by Wi Ha-Joon). Knowing not everyone will survive this bloody mayhem lets you be empathetic even without having the full picture of everyone’s backstories.
Cinematography and Visuals
Watching Squid Game’s behind the scenes makes you appreciate it more. The people behind constructing the sets deserve a raise for doing a great job bringing viewers to one stupefying cosmos. Instead of solely relying on CGI, seeing actual landscapes helped establish a feel of reality as you follow every scene. In episodes one and two, seeing sunny colors and slaughter emphasizes the ruthless nature of this competition, even if it’s based on unassuming children’s games.
The cinematography is on point, too. Each shot was tastefully done and won’t leave viewers puzzled, story-wise. The riot that broke out in episode four was a highlight. Sure, it’s somewhat hard to identify who’s tackling who, but the rapidly changing shots or angles accurately mirror a grim atmosphere that no one would want to experience.
Another artistic display of camera work can be seen in episode two. The shot of surviving players staring at a glowing piggy bank on the ceiling, ever slowly filled with loads of cash. It’s a beautiful yet haunting depiction that these people see the whopping cash prize as their only hope to escape financial misery.
While Squid Game is shorter compared to your average K-dramas, it's a show that's difficult not to finish in one sitting. It's well-written, from the story to its characters. The impeccable performances of the actors are hard to miss, too! Few plot points are pleading to be addressed further, but hopefully, another season will be there to provide much-needed answers.