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Review: Squid Game Ep. 1: Red Light, Green Light

Disclaimer: Similes were hurt in the making of this review.

So once again the internet has been buzzing with excited hype and anticipation like a mass swarming desperate, needy bees with the emergence of the latest release from South Korea to hit the streaming world of entertainment- Squid Games.

So, what is it?

Squid games is written and directed by Dong-hyuk Wang and is the story of hundreds of struggling people who are either forced or have coerce themselves to accept an invitation to participate in a Battle-Royale of children’s games. To compete they must stay within a prison-like encampment and are unable to leave until the competition has ended. The participants are offered the opportunity to win a huge 40-million-dollar prize, but the price to take part is an equally large stake- their life.

Episode one introduces the watcher to the down on his luck Gi-hun, who has lost his business and is on the verge of losing his daughter as his estranged wife is seeking to move to the US with her new husband for his work and will take her with them. A stranger just happens to bump into Gi-hun and challenges to play a children’s game where if he wins a round, he is given money, but if he loses, he must take a slap(literally). Gi-hun loses several rounds and is admonished but ends up winning a small amount; not enough to sort all his troubles but enough to give him a taste of what may be should he continue to take part in further games. The stranger leaves his card and Gi-hun goes home to his mother with a newfound sense of positivity. The rest of the episode takes us through Gi-hun enrolling in the Squid games, moving in to his new surroundings; aka prison and taking part in the first of such games, Red Light, Green Light: a child’s game where people are able to move on the phrase ‘Green Light’, but must be still once the phrase ‘Red Light’ is spoken, the difference here being if one moves when ‘Red Light’ is called, it’s game over, with a bullet…..

Is it worth the buzz of hype and excitement?

Yes! Absolutely. Squid games is yet another example of how the South Korean and Asian film and tv industry can offer a breath of fresh air from the mundane, often regurgitated western offerings that are a plague to all normal viewing and streaming services. If you are willing to recognise the differences in style between east and west, you will be rewarded with a honey glow of satisfaction upon watching. The acting is over the top sometimes granted, but that is how it is meant to be. The bad guys are bad, the tough times the characters go through are often exaggeratedly performed, but as the sayings go – embrace the madness and vive la difference and let yourself go. The story is simple and a familiar that we may have been privy to before to some degree, but with a spin that all viewers will be able to follow. It’s still early days for me in the watching, but Squid games promises much and the fact that it already seems a certainty to be renewed for a second season gives me confidence that the series will continue to delight.

Verdict: 8.5/10 – Squid Games, crispy with extra sweet chilli sauce.

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