This runaway hit from South Korea is centred on Seong Gi-hun, a heavily indebted man who is invited to take part in a series of six games that if he wins will solve his problems. He accepts gets into a vehicle where a gas puts him to sleep. When he wakes he is in a large facility with over four hundred other people; they are watched over by masked armed guards.
Here they are told the rules, one of which states that if a majority of players want to quit the game will end but they will not get any prize money. As they play the first game, the school yard game ‘red light green light’ they quickly learn that being eliminated is quite literal with losers being shot on the spot! Over the course of the series Gi-hun gets to know various other contestants; some he befriends and forms a team with for certain games; others are quickly identified as a danger.
As the games continue more and more people are eliminated. While this is going on a policeman, looking for his missing brother, has found his way to the facility and, having taken the place of a guard, it trying to uncover what happened to his brother and who is behind the activities there.
When I saw this recommended on Netflix I thought I’d watch it sometime but was in no great rush as I assumed to would be a Korean ‘Alice in Borderland’. After hearing talk of its popularity I thought perhaps I should watch it sooner. I’m glad that I did. I really liked ‘Alice in Borderland’ but this is so much better, and while there are some similarities there are very important differences.
There is a real sense of danger from the moment the first game begins; the fact that the contestants are playing playground games rather than deviously clever made up games make it feel strangely more real. The games are nicely varied; requiring skill, strength and sometimes just luck. The characters are the series real strength; they are varied and the way they are introduced means that the viewer grows to really care about them, especially as we learn certain players motivation for playing such a deadly game.
The programme’s design is impressive; I especially liked the masked look of those running the game facility. The cast does a really fine job bringing their characters to life and the sets and effects are impressive. Overall I’d definitely recommend this… watch it before you learn too much about what happens.