Squid Game: A short series that stresses on the greedy and animalistic instincts of humans
Squid Game is a survival drama streaming television series written and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk. The nine-episode series, starring Lee Jung Jae, Park Hae Soo and Wi Ha Joon, tells the story of a group of people who risk their lives in a mysterious survival game with a 45.6 billion won ($38.7 million) prize. It was released worldwide on September 17, 2021 by Netflix. The following review contains heavy spoilers so reader discretion is advised.
Episode 1 begins with the introduction of the main characters, Seong Gi Hun (Lee Jung Jae), Sang Woo (Park Hae Soo), Ali, Saebyeok (Jung Ho Yeon) as well as the Front Man, who is at the top of the organisation. There are 456 participants and each one is drowning in debt which gives them the greed to win the enormous prize money. Seong Gi Hun is a degenerate gambler, Sang Woo embezzled millions as an investment banker, Ali was a Pakistani menial job worker and Saebyeok was a North Korean defector, trying to make a living for her younger brother.
The survival game was a series of nerve-wracking twists and turns. Each part of the game was very carefully built, including the bunkers, tags and food supply. Squid Game utilizes well-worn tropes, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with that; especially when the story template continues to hold such allegorical value and when the series expresses them so well. At least in its first two episodes, Squid Game isn’t afraid to follow its premise through to its inevitable, ruthless conclusions. The contestants only recognize the true horror of the game when they begin a deadly game of ‘Red Light, Green Light’, played out in a bright sun under which the characters, and the viewers, have nowhere to hide.
By juxtaposing the innocence of these childish games with the insidious belief that ceaseless, cutthroat competition is the only way modern adults can survive, Squid Game presents a microcosm of a capitalist society. Each character comes from a difficult background, therefore it is difficult to root for just one person throughout the games. Sang Woo’s quick thinking, Gi Hun’s humanistic nature, Saebyeok’s instincts, Ali’s strength and the old man’s experience allowed them to move around with ease.
As the series progresses, there is a separate story of the vigilant and diligent police officer, Joon Ho who is desperately trying to find his elder brother Kang In Ho. He does everything in his power to make sure he can find his brother, to the extent of constantly putting his life on the line only to be shot by his own brother, Kang In Ho, who turned out to be the 2015 winner of the game and the ‘Front Man’.
The side characters such as Han Min Nyeo, the gangster, the couple, etc added more depth to the concept of the series. The twists, rules and set-ups of the games are finely calibrated to elicit maximum tension and excitement. But it’s the politics among the contestants that offers the series’ most riveting moments, as we watch transactional alliances and genuine friendships form, only to fall apart in the face of cold-blooded strategy and cruel betrayals in this every-man-for-himself scenario.
The brutal and senseless deaths in the name of fairness and ‘equality to all’ ideology added to the ‘white knuckle entertainment’. The addition of dark comedy, great acting and beautiful set designs truly creates the feeling of a fantasy world. The series is definitely recommended to people who enjoy realistic tropes, dark comedy and emotional story lines. The ending, though, gave Gi Hun an amazing character development, where he realised where it all went wrong and would do anything to protect anyone else entering the dangerous world of ‘Squid Game’.
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If you had the chance to enter a similar survival game, would you? Let us know in the comments below.