The expansion of streaming services and hyper-production of content has led to the popularity of series outside the English-speaking area, which can very well match the quality of those recorded in the USA. Spain The Money Heist was the initiator of that trend and after it there were numerous series that were watched but still did not have global popularity. Until a hit from South Korea came out recently Squid Game for which the whole world has gone mad. Without any expectations and watching promotional material, I watched nine episodes available on Netflix.
The protagonist of the series is Seong Gi-Hun, a nice but irresponsible man whose heart is in the right place, who lost his marriage and neglected his daughter, and lives from today to tomorrow in his mother’s house while he is being chased by debt collectors. The plot arises after he plays a game with a mysterious stranger, who gives him a business card and an offer to get rich quick. Seong agrees and arrives at a mysterious location where he learns that there will be as many as 456 players in debt who are in debt like him and that they will play six traditional Korean games for children. As is usually the case, it turns out that the stakes are much higher than they could have imagined…
On Seong Island, he meets a colorful team of characters who have agreed to take part in the game for various reasons – a dangerous criminal with a tattoo on his face, an old man with a brain tumor, a girl who fled North Korea with her family, a naive immigrant from Pakistan and Seong’s friend from childhood when it was said that he was very successful abroad, and it turns out that he is in big debts. In addition to the games themselves, we also follow a police officer who infiltrated the island with the desperate goal of finding out what happened to his brother.
Name Squid Game means one of the popular children’s games in South Korea, the explanation of which we get in the prologue. Children’s games usually evoke nostalgia, carefree and fun childhood, but in this series they get a dark connotation because the loss brings with it drastic consequences. For all these over-indebted people on the brink of despair, victory is not only a significant financial success, but also a means of survival. The rules of the game are controlled by masked people in red overalls who, in accordance with the geometric marking on the mask, have their duties – commander, soldier or worker.
Given the characteristics of the series and the clever marketing of Netflix, it was clear that this series would become a hit. First of all, it is very high quality and impressively designed, with a fully formed own world in which games take place. Feelings of mystery and tension permeate the story, the dynamics between the characters are interesting, and many were attracted by the impersonal nature of the organizers and their infrastructure. Each major character has a relatively complex background, their motives and moral traits are repeatedly highlighted and are generally likable even though they have flaws. As in most works from South Korea, chaos or dark situations are often marked by unexpected humor.
I believe that the real purpose of this series is to show how people react and how they behave when their existence is in question. This is the story of morality and ethics in a world where morality and ethics are lacking and where class differences are becoming more pronounced. The parallels with real life are obvious – the rules are easy to understand, everyone has an equal chance, everyone can break it when they want and contracts are signed. The feeling of debt dehumanizes, but also the feeling of caring for other people can provide a source of comfort and meaning. The general conclusion is that we all play a variation of the game from the series and that we play that game all our lives.
I have to admit that after the first episode, I was quite warm to watch, although I did not manage to gain great sympathy for the main character. Given that the action was intense in itself, it seems to me that additional drama has been repeatedly pushed in where it is not needed in order to build melodrama and compassion for certain characters. My interest dropped rapidly after the banal seventh episode, which is too superficial in every sense, it just doesn’t go with the previous episodes. Also, I believe that many will agree that this series could have been realized without the parallel story that followed the police officer.
Squid Game is a new hit from South Korea that represents a very brutal, touching and visually striking combination of sharp social comments and bizarre action that after watching leaves a sad taste of overestimation and excessive commercialization.
my final grade: 7/10
Source: The Filmske Recenzije by filmskerecenzije.com.
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