The plot centered around a very attractive Squid Game Porn cast (I live for the edits) and the way they grow, bond and falter through a series of life-or-death games. Perhaps the reason why the show attracted so many fans was due to its character’s questionable actions. The acting and the games themselves definitely put this series on the must-watch list.
First episode date: 17 September 2021
Awards: Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series, MORE
Genres: Action, Mystery, Survival, Thriller, Drama, Horror fiction, Action fiction
Program creator: Hwang Dong-hyuk
Writers: Hwang Dong-hyuk
In case you haven’t watched it (I would say go watch it and finish this review afterward) this is your spoiler alert.
Even critics of the movie (of which there are surprisingly many) must admit it is a great pass time. The plot starts with the main characters stuck in places of high poverty, debt, and terrible conditions. From there, the show often shifts pace, slowing down and focusing on the characters and then speeding up to a gory fast-paced game. During the first game, I have to admit I was shocked by the change in dynamic. Unfortunately, if you were expecting a constantly engaging type of show, I have to admit Squid Game falls a little short. At times, the action drew out to the point where I skipped through the scene. But mostly, my eyes were glued to the screen the whole time, except for the moments I spent sobbing (this happened more often than I would like to admit).
Let’s start with my favorite part— the acting. Not once did I question the validity of the actors or actresses (meaning they didn’t give me TikTok vibes). They expressed the emotions expected and kept me longing for more. Even the worst characters with the most complicated personalities were portrayed in ways that made me pity them. Cho Sang-Woo, who killed not one but two of my favorite characters, had me empathizing with the way he was feeling and crying for his mother after his death. My only wish was that these characters had more time to develop the relations between them and their personalities. The hardest deaths for me were from the characters that weren’t featured as heavily and whose relationships were neglected.
Squid Game exists right in the pit of this divide, where 456 desperate individuals attempt to survive six violent interpretations of children’s games in the hope of scoring a life-changing 45.6 billion won (around £28 million). Writer-director Hwang Dong-hyuk demonstrates a real inventive flair when it comes to the tournament itself, from the presence of a chilling, pigtailed mechanical doll in the opening game, to the uniforms that distinguish the contestants from the elusive masked guards; teal tracksuits for the former, hot-pink boilersuits for the latter.
The clinical execution of violence is heavy and relentless from the off. Contestants are shot en masse at close range, blood drips off swing sets, and a vicious nocturnal riot is captured via infrared. As the games roll on, an entertainment element is introduced to further twist the already rib-deep knife buried (mostly) figuratively in the contestants’ sides.
Yet there’s heart to be found in the macabre parade of human suffering. Enemies are made amongst the ranks of survivors — notably Jang Deok-sun (Heo Sung-Tae), a surly gangster with a face tattoo of a gun — but so are allies. Among them are Kang Sae-book (standout newcomer Jung Ho-Yeon), a pickpocket and North Korean defector who plans to use the prize money to get her remaining family over the border. Oh, Il-Nam (Oh Yeong-us) is a gentle older contestant who suffers from a brain tumor, and on the guards’ side, there’s Hwang Jun-ho (Wi Ha-Joon), a cop who has infiltrated the game to find his missing brother.
Hwang weaves poignant details about Gi-hun and his comrades into the story as he moves frenetically between games, all while ending each episode on a tantalizing cliffhanger. Bolstered by unwaveringly engaged performances from Lee and his central co-stars, each backstory pushes the emotional stakes of the show to painstaking new heights, which, when matched with its rising body count, makes for moments of raw tragedy.
Even with its final act twists — which feel thrilling thanks to Hwang’s taut, precise script — Squid Game doesn’t say much about privilege, poverty, and cruelty that hasn’t been said already. Yet with its propulsive storytelling, robustly drawn characters, and thoughtful dialogue — which, it has been discovered, should be watched with ‘English’ rather than ‘English CC’ subtitles on Netflix for a more nuanced translation – there’s still plenty to enjoy within these familiar themes. That Squid Game also manages to be one of the most visually exhilarating shows of the year is a delightful if often gruesome bonus.