Squid Game REVIEW: Lee Jung-Jae, Park Hae-Soo starrer is a gripping watch that keeps you on the edge  

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Director: Hwang Dong-hyuk

Cast:Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo , Oh Young-soo, Wi Ha-joon, Jung Ho-yeon, Heo Sung-tae.

What happens when innocent childhood games take a deadly turn? Would you be up for a quick game if the prize money is as huge as 45.6 million dollars? Without knowing the consequences, anyone of us might be up for it. But Netflix’s next show Squid Game is no child play. Squid Game gives us a glimpse of this survival game, a reflection of the cutthroat competition in society while keeping a strict balancing between the emotional graph and character arc of each person. The show draws parallels to the extreme ends one goes to in today’s time to survive in this viciously competitive society, societal divide, and the lopsided class divide.

Squid Game centres around the problems faced by the potential participants of the survival game, each facing an upheaval. It is then they see a ray of hope to end their misery when masked men come with an offer of 45.6 million dollars for playing childhood games. Now, how could childhood play harm you anyway? Right? Only it does in Netflix’s Squid Game. How? That is for you to watch.

Among other participants, we have Ki Hoon (Lee Jung Jae), who is an unemployed man, divorced with an ailing mother and unprecedented debt to his account. On the other hand, is his childhood friend Sun Woo (Park Hae Soo) who is in huge debt after his investments go wrong. He is practically lying to his family out of guilt. Joon Ho (Wi Ha-Joon) plays an infiltrating police office who is in search of his missing brother, while Sae-byeok (Jung Ho-yeon) plays a North Korean defector with a complicated history. These four central characters find themselves amid 452 other participants of the game who compete amongst each other in the lure of driven their problems away.

There is also an Indian struggling to meet ends by the name Ali. I must admit that it did make me smile bright to see a Hindi-speaking man find his way in a Korean show. Truly, we are all going global!

 

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Squid Game is a huge commentary on the hierarchy and never-ending divide between the rich and the poor, the haves and the haves not. Giving it a dramatic effect, we have a large board game set on the floor with three signs depicting the hierarchy. The ‘administrator’, ‘soldiers’ and ‘players’. Contestants are all dressed in green tracksuits with masked soldiers looking over them. The game is designed in a way that will give you the chills. A large doll plays the commanding dummy officer. While the contestants are seen outwitting and (some) even helping each other out, it all boils down to one fact, there will only be one survivor.

The game unfolds in a very interesting manner across 8 episodes which will leave you on the edge throughout. The screenplay smartly interlaces their individual story to the circumstances that have led them to make these choices. Throughout the series, a thing that has remained constant is that the participants CHOOSE to play the game, what initially feels like a foul play perhaps later turns out to be consequences of their own choices. Director Hwang Dong-hyuk has used a sharp storytelling method to keep the story engaging. During the press conference, he mentioned that he had this story since 2008-2009 but found no takers. It is only around 2019 that he started re-working on it.

 

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The background score keeps up with the intensity of the game. Squid Game also sees a cameo by Gong Yoo. His small scene with Lee Jung Jae is admirably and unmissable.

The performances of each character make you feel invested in their stories with the story keeping you hooked as you see players eliminating one another in this deadly game of survival. The production has been mounted on a huge scale with minimum space left for CGI work.

 

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It is difficult to not feel a rollercoaster of emotions while watching Squid Game. By the end, I saw asking myself, ‘What would I do if I were in their place?’ Watch and tell me in the comments below what would you do?

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