Kolorful Palette: Honestly great [Liar Game]
Another week, another manga turned J-drama turned K-drama. If this becomes a trend I don’t think I’ll be one to complain, especially if the quality stays this good. What’s not to love about a great story with some fresh twists, solid directing, and a well-chosen cast?
Like Nodame Cantabile, I haven’t seen or read any of the previous material. I did do some Googling though, and from what I’ve gathered, the Korean version of Liar Game has some key differences regarding the overall setup. In the Japanese originals, the Liar Game is run by a shadowy organization, and the game itself is quite secretive and nefarious. In the Korean version the game is controversial, but it’s a big public reality show that contestants choose to be on (although it still seems like it has its fair share of secrets).
The other key difference seems to be that in the originals, the money the contestants are given to play with is essentially just a loan. If they lose it in the game, they are then in debt to the Liar Game organization. That certainly gives the players a lot to lose, especially given the dark nature of the organization itself (not the kind of people you want to be indebted to).
It seems like these changes have caused a bit of a stir, and in general it appears that there are two pretty distinct groups of people: those who love the remake, and those who hate it. Since I’ve only seen the first two episodes of the Korean version my opinion is completely biased and uneducated, but what the heck, I’ll offer it up anyways.
Personally, the changes seem smart to me. It’s pretty tough to get away with doing an identical remake of a drama that was already very successful, so a bit of a twist freshens up the series while still honoring the source material. The fact that the game is a reality show feels modern, and surprisingly plausible. I wouldn’t be at all shocked to see something like the Liar Game on TV (pretty much all reality shows are about deception as it is), so it’s easy to get into this drama, as if it’s a reality show that’s actually happening.
The fact that the contestants in this version don’t actually owe money to the game when they lose does lower the stakes, but I like what it adds on a psychological level. With super high stakes everyone would be incredibly desperate, and that would end up informing most of their decisions. Having to deceive people not out of self-preservation, but out of greed reveals a lot more about a person’s character, and I expect we’ll get to see a lot of inner turmoil. Sure, some of these people have pretty desperate lives to begin with, but they still don’t stand to lose anything, so the moral choices they make in the game are still very much choices, and not something they’ve been cornered into. They’re pretty relatable choices too, because who hasn’t ever been tempted to be selfish?
The only other major complaint I’ve seen is that the K-drama is adding romance, and that’s one thing that I could take or leave in this case. I could certainly see how it would seem unnecessary or frivolous, but this IS a Korean drama after all. Expecting it not to have a romance is probably more unrealistic than expecting it not to be in Korean.
Regardless of the original material, I think this is a very solid drama on its own two feet. The camerawork and the editing were all extremely well done, and every member of the main cast seems perfect for their role. I’m happy to see Shin Sung-rok as the somewhat ominous game host, especially since I never finished Trot Lovers (I said I would quit if they went with an amnesia plot, and I meant it!). I also love all the mystery that works on so many different levels. I want to know how all the characters will develop on a psychological and moral level, but I also want to know how the actual game is going to play out, and what secrets lie within the pasts of the male leads and within the organization itself. Basically I’m curious about everything, so it seems pretty unlikely that I’ll get bored anytime soon.
I primarily drew this scene because I liked the aesthetic, but it also did a great job of establishing the relationship between Nam Da-jung and Cha Woo-jin. This is the first time they meet, right after he’s released from prison, and from the get-go she is naive and trusting, whereas he is deceptive and uncaring. Even their body language is telling of their distinct personalities. She perches there meekly on the very edge of the bench, innocently swallowing his every word while he sits there cool and casual, not even batting an eye at all her pleading. These two are complete opposites, but that’s what makes it so fun.
In a way, it feels like Cantabile Tomorrow and Liar Game are also opposites. Cantabile Tomorrow is light and relaxing, with lots of sweetness and humor sprinkled throughout. Watching it makes me feel warm and cozy, and like I should just listen to classical music all day. Liar Game is not those things. It’s edgy and a bit dark, and left me wide-eyed and practically clutching at the screen within a few minutes of it starting. The suspense!
I love both styles of drama, and I’m really looking forward to watching both of them unfold. I didn’t have high expectations for either, and it’s always such a good feeling to be pleasantly surprised. Liar Game is off to a fantastic start, and I’m crazy excited to see what happens next. No spoilers!
- Liar Game: Episode 1
- Trailer and highlights: Let the Liar Game begin
- Masks, blindfolds, and betrayal in Liar Game
- Liar Game’s naive heroine, shrewd lifeline, and mysterious gamemaster
- tvN’s Liar Game remake confirms and adds to cast
- Korean remake of Liar Game lines up its cast of liars and swindlers