Liar Game (라이어 게임)
Synopsis: Various contestants take part in a game show with a prize of 10 billion won. The contestants who can cheat the others wins the prize. Contestants include genius swindler Cha Woo Jin and naive college student Nam Da Jung.
Country: South Korea
Genre: Psychological, Thriller
Casting: Lee Sang Yoon, Shin Su Rok, Kim So Eun etc…
I watched the Japanese version a few years ago. I loved the concept but wasn’t really fond of the drama’s making. As a result I didn’t manage to appreciate the drama to its true value. Despite those mixed feelings concerning Liar Game I finally decided to give the Korean version a shot. I’m always curious to see the difference of conception from one country to another (will it be faithful to the initial plot or be more creative?) even when I didn’t like the original story or was a bit disappointed by it.
In my opinion the Korean Liar Game has nothing to envy from the Japanese one. The scriptwriters made some clever choices such as the concept of the reality show. It was much more credible to see contestants fighting against one other on a TV program with an audience. I also highly appreciated the importance they gave to each characters and their stories. The game remained at the heart of the drama but unlike the Japanese version they gave much more screen time to the stories which underlay the motive of the game. It was for me a good way to lighten the plot as well as giving it more solid ground. It helped building more twists and the characters seemed way stronger that way. I’m mostly referring to Kang Do Young here. I don’t remember having even seen his character in the Japanese drama (at least in the first season since I’ve only watched that one) while I think he was the most important element of the show.
The games were awesome but quite thick overall. Sometimes I had to stop my episode to manage to read the rules and understand everything. It’s hard to catch up if you miss some key elements right from the beginning to be honest. Be sure to have you brain turned on because Liar Game is a drama that makes you reflect all the way through! Either it is the Korean or the Japanese versions actually. In fact the ordeal were quite the same in both drama (apart from one or two). When it was the case they only chose a different mean to solve it (they used much more technologies for example). That’s what made this adaptation (if we can call it like that) so good: it was a mix of faithfulness and originality! I’m not in the least disappointed.
Nam Da Jung is faithful to the original writing of her character. Innocent and pure she was sometimes a bit too gullible nonetheless -I would even say stupid (like the time she actually believed Ha Woo Jin would come back after going to the bathroom the first time she met him. Even the most naive person would have seen that it was a phony excuse to get rid of her. Or when we got to see her for the first time saying “I have a way to win” and 5 seconds later she completely blown away her plan by pulling a foolish act). That quality could have been the end of her character for me. I just hate that kind of heroine. But in the context of the Liar Game that was alright, considering that they even tried to make her evolved. She slowly learnt the tricks of the game and how to think like Ha Woo Jin. She didn’t become an expert overnight of course. Despite her evolution she still remained faithful to herself. She still needed the help of other to win and was still unable to lie. I appreciated the consistency of her character even though sometimes I would have liked to see her being more selfish or a bit smarter. As for Kim So Eun I think she was more than fit for the character despite my first apprehension.
Ha Woo Jin was a really appealing character just like Akiyama Shinichi was, except that he was much worked on than this latter -probably because of his background story (>>>SPOILER- with Kang Do Young and Nam Da Jung- who would have guessed for Nam Da Jung?! -SPOILER<<<). He had all the winning ingredient: smartness, mysteriousness, schemer. He always had a poker face which made him hard to read (the only time he lost his control was when he was taken aback by Kang Do Young’s ability to control the micro muscles of his face). I liked his protective attitude toward Nam Da Jung which was purely innocent (I mean no romance! don’t get your hopes up). I can’t help thinking that Nam Da Jung nonetheless influenced him along the episodes even though it was barely perceptible. He remained faithful to himself but seemed to trust people a bit more near the end. Ha Woo Jin was in short a character cleverly written just like the other.
I had some reserved concerning Lee Sang Yoon since I had a very bright image of him (probably because of his dimples! dayum). But he seized the essence of his character perfectly well.
Kang Do Young is the kind of epic character you can not forget. As much as I liked Ha Woo Jin and acknowledge his cleverness, he was out of Do Young’s league for me. It’s hard to play a bad guy in a drama without crossing the tolerable limits of craziness. But Shin Sung Rok is definitely an actor who can do it! He was made for this role. It’s hard to describe how incredible he was. Cynical, manipulator, sadistic Kang Do Young appeared along the episode more and more crazy. But a fantastic craziness! He was the only one who truly enjoyed himself during the Liar Game (both as a MC and a contestant). With one comment or one glance he could break someone, make him/her (and even us) unease. Playing with human life only appeared as normal for him. The more there were clashes or twists between contestants the more he was happy (this smile, oh this creepy smile of him!). I loved seeing him pretend to be innocent with the PDs while he, in fact, manipulated them without their knowing. Including him in the game halfway was a clever idea! It was an amazing twists as we could finally see the master in all its splendour. It was hilarious to see his team be afraid of him as much as it was thrilling to see him directly challenged Ha Woo Jin.
I think this character was really what lacked to the Japanese version. From what I remember of the first season we never saw the guy behind the game. He was only a voice in the dark who manipulated everyone. That’s all I remember. Maybe we actually saw him and my memory is just playing with me, but if that’s the case he was no match for Kang Do Young! otherwise it would have been impossible for me to forget him.
As for the other contestant there were all pretty nice (sometimes I was even a bit sad when one of them lost) but the one who truly is worth to be mentionned among them is indisputably Jamie. Sly and cunning as a fox she was a strong rival. She was hard to figure out and easy to be tricked by her lie. She was quick at understanding each game and was almost as good as our hero. I liked her cause she always made the game funnier. She was bold and contrary to the other contestant she didn’t hesitate to even betray the king of the game, to get her revenge. Incredibly resentful she couldn’t bear to be used by someone and then thrown away. That was how she finally sided with the good guys. You couldn’t be more opportunist than her and yet her selfishness was broken by Nam Da Jung and her team. She was a very enjoyable character (when you overcame her bitch attitude of the firsts episodes).
In conclusion I would say that we can enjoy this new Liar Game even if we loved the Japanese version. Both are similar but at the same time very different. They offer different approach of the story and can hardly be comparable. I think that was the strength of the Korean version. For those who were fan of the Japanese drama, don’t be sceptical! This new version highly is worth the watch. You will be surprised!
Note de Dushbadou: 8.5/10
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Note finale: 8.5/10