Squid Game

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Lee Jung-jae in Squid Game.
Lee Jung-jae in Squid Game.
Photo: Youngkyu Park/Netflix


Squid Game




5/5 Stars


Hoping to win easy money, a broke and desperate Gi-hun agrees to take part in an enigmatic game. Not long into the first round, unforeseen horrors unfold.


As a child, we used to play the Red Light, Green Light game.

We'd all line up on one side of the yard and race towards the finish line on the other. The first to cross would be crowned the winner. The twist, of course, was that an appointed "traffic cop" had to call out the words "red light" or "green light" while the players stormed full speed ahead. You could only move on "green light", and if you didn't stop on "red light", you'd be eliminated from the game.

A simple and easy game that was always fun to play.

Now take the same game, and instead of kids, the players are all cash-strapped adults with massive debt. To win would mean the opportunity to finally be free of their financial burdens. But if they lose, they are shot dead.

Welcome to the latest Netflix hit, Squid Game - the South Korean drama that turns nostalgic children's games into deadly war zones.

Written and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, the series had a lowkey launch early in September and has since garnered massive success, even threatening to dethrone the current Netflix champ, Bridgerton. A feat that even caught Netflix off-guard with the streaming giant's co-CEO and chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, telling Variety: "We did not see that coming, in terms of its global popularity."

Squid Game's success lies in the best kind of publicity - word-of-mouth. Like with Making A Murderer, Tiger King, and most recently the French series Lupin, the show grows in popularity due to viewer recommendations rather than massive marketing budgets being pumped into it behind-the-scenes. Squid Game is doing good because it's good.

The show is well-made with a stellar cast and a gripping storyline. Perhaps its greatest achievement is how it effortlessly moves between serious Oscar-worthy drama and futuristic gamifying mode without making it feel forced or unnatural. Two worlds exist within the series, the everyday reality and the masked, mysterious world in which the game plays out. Both are equally interesting to watch.

Another compelling element to the show is finding out what the next game will be, who will survive, who are the people behind the masks, and what will happen to our lead cast.

Squid Game is a gripping, twisted tale that asks how far we're willing to go and what we're willing to give up in the name of money.


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