Demented bloodsport from South Korea is wildly exciting and terrifying at the same time.
It’s tipped to become Netflix’s biggest ever series, and Squid Game is as out there as they come….
The wild survival drama from South Korea takes its name from a children’s game not dissimilar to British Bulldogs and other variations. One game Red Light, Green Light is often known as “Statues” in western culture -don’t get caught moving when the “It” person turns around and is no longer shielding their eyes.
The lead character of this drama by Hwang Dong-hyuk is estranged dad Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae), whose daughter (Cho Ah-in) looks set to be travelling with his ex-wife (Kang Mal-geum) and her new husband to the USA. Gi-hun already has mounting debts and is subjected to threats from gangsters and his ailing mother (Kim Young-ok) has growing medical expenses.
One day at the local transit, a stranger hands him a business card which later leads him to a bizarre underground boot camp overseen by masked men in red jumpsuits. Awakening from a deep sleep he meets an acquaintance Cho Sang-woo (Park Hae-soo) and 400 other prospective players in a game worth millions in money. A ‘big brother’ voice shouts instructions offering big rewards if they succeed -but there are also high stakes.
It’s here that Squid Game reaches a zenith in wild scenes that are as outlandish in concept as they are in execution. Like something from Black Mirror meets the Hunger Games, this is where the series is generating all its buzz.
Yet writer / director Hwang Dong-hyuk has also taken the time to ensure we care for Gi-hun, in his quest to become the perfect father and inject success into his life.
As the games of this demented bloodsport unfold more characters will rise to the fore, including North Korean defector Kang Sae-byeok (Jung Ho-yeon) whose wile and nerve is remarkable, faithful Pakistani Abdul Ali (Anupam Tripathi) and young detective Hwang Jun-ho (Wi Ha-joon) who is searching for his missing brother.
But who is running these games, and why? How did they train their young army, finance a giant piggy bank with billions, construct mind-boggling Escher-like stairways to nowhere and evade the local authorities? Just what does it all mean?
It’s so perplexing and terrifying that Squid Game gives you the taste for blood and draws you back for more. Pray you don’t get summoned to play.
Squid Game is now screening on Netflix.