Squid Game: Everything you need to know about the sensational Netflix survival drama


Reviews from critics and audiences indicate this is not to be missed

The incredible new South Korean TV survival drama series Squid Game is attracting viewers all around the world in the few days since Netflix released it on September 17.

In the series 456 desperate contestants compete with each other in a mysterious and deadly survival game involving multiple rounds of childhood games to win 45.6 billion Korean won in prize money that can pull them out of their misery.

Netflix head of content and co-CEO Ted Sarandos revealed this week that Squid Game is the streaming platform’s #1 show globally. He also noted that at the current rate it should eventually become the most-watched Netflix series of all time.

Squid Game: What’s it all about?

A mysterious invitation to join the game is sent to people at risk who are in dire need of money. 456 participants from all walks of life are locked into a secret location where they play games in order to win 45.6 billion Korean won. (About $50m Australian.)

Every game is a Korean traditional children’s game such as Red Light, Green Light, but the consequence of losing is death. Who will be the winner, and what is the purpose behind this game?

Netflix recently unveiled the first poster and pre-teaser trailer for Squid Game (watch below).

Squid Game

The tagline “45.6 Billion Is Child’s Play” makes a powerful first impression alongside the imagery of the shapes that are used in the ‘squid game,’ the fallen man in the green tracksuit, the man in pink dragging him away, and the large box with the pink ribbon.

The series title is a reference to a simple yet physical and aggressive children’s game played in neighborhood alleyways. How will this symbol of childhood fun drive the adult players into peril? Every piece of new information provides more tantalizing hints.

The trailer features tense sequences of participants putting their lives on the line in the games. Driven to desperation and gathered at an unknown location, the 456 participants play one game each day as they race towards the prize of 45.6 billion won.

Squid Game

The price of failure is death, and only one contestant can survive to claim the prize. How did this diverse group of people end up here, and who is the mastermind behind these games? The juxtaposition between the pandemonium and the colourful, nostalgic art direction of Squid Game further heightens anticipation for the distinctive visuals and story of this show.

Netflix reports Squid Game has garnered much attention since production was first announced, for its atypical title and premise, unprecedented scale, and the shining track records of its cast and crew.

Spearheading the crew is Hwang Dong-hyuk, the versatile and socially-conscious director of The Fortress, Miss Granny, and Silenced, this unconventional combination of classic childhood fun and the contemporary rat race tells a story like none other.

Cast members Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Oh Young-soo, Wi Ha-Jun, Jung Ho-yeon, Heo Sung-tae, Anupam and Kim Joo-ryoung draw viewers into the macabre show by delivering deep, nuanced performances that vibrantly convey the humanity of the diverse characters who have no choice but to take part in the game.

Squid Game the main players

Lee Jung-jae as Seong Gi-hun (No. 456)
A chauffeur and a gambling addict

Park Hae-soo as Cho Sang-woo (No. 218)
The head of the investment team at a securities company

Oh Yeong-su as Oh Il-nam (No. 001)
An elderly man with a brain tumour

HoYeon Jung as Kang Sae-byeok (No. 067)
A North Korean defector

Heo Sung-tae as Jang Deok-su (No. 101)
A gangster who enters the Game to settle his gambling debts

Anupam Tripathi as Abdul Ali (No. 199)[9]
A foreign worker from Pakistan

Kim Joo-ryoung as Han Mi-nyeo (No. 212)
A manipulative woman who claims to be a poor single mother

Squid Game: Director speaks

Director Hwang Dong-hyuk introduces Squid Game as “one giant allegory that expresses the capitalist society of contemporary times” and alludes to the diverse stories of the game participants and how they have been driven into a corner due to competition in modern society.

A stark comparison is created by showing children’s games enjoyed during childhood and altering them into something much more extreme and competitive. The participants, who feel like they are on the edge of a cliff, charge forward without hesitation toward the enormous prize. The way they rush toward the money reminds us of ourselves as we struggle in a capitalist society.

Before the games begin, the participants are told, “If you do not wish to participate, please tell us now.”   The participants have a choice whether or not to join the games, but they do not object due to the chance of winning the prize money. Once the game begins, the childlike game arena transforms into a chaos filled scene full of shock and screams. Since the game has already begun, the only way out is to win the game.

In order to win the prize and in order to stay alive, the participants even resort to putting the lives of other participants on the line. With such unpredictable and large-scale games, who will eventually win? How the participants squirm and struggle to survive in the deadly games and the outcome will be an intriguing story.

Squid Game: Early reviews indicate it’s not to be missed

At the movie and TV review site Rotten Tomatoes, Squid Game is trending with some very high scores. The first 600 reviews from the audience have given the series an average rating of 87%.

There are not a lot of critics yet to weigh in, but those so far collated have rated the series 100%.

Here are two samples:

Overall, this is still a savagely entertaining slam dunk from Netflix Korea, which is likely to be embraced around the world as its predecessors were.
South China Morning Post

It’s a strange, violent, disturbing adventure, and if that sounds like something you’d like, I can’t recommend Squid Game enough.

Netflix released the series in 190 countries on September 17.

Squid Game: Production information

Title: Squid Game
Genre: South Korean survival drama
Episodes: Nine (all under 60 minutes, final episode 30 minutes)
Director/Writer: Hwang Dong-hyuk
Starring: Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo,  Oh Young-soo, Wi Ha-Jun, Jung Ho-yeon, Heo Sung-tae, Anupam, Kim Joo-ryoung

Watch the Squid Game trailer.

See also: Mediaweek’s Top 10 streaming platforms: How can Netflix not be #1?

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