Not a Squid Game clone, Netflix’s Physical: 100

Finn Macdiarmid
4 min readFeb 3, 2023
Two competitors in the first elimination round

A dark room with a fountain in the middle and 100 ceramic torsos surrounding it on pedestals. It sounds like something from the plot of a weird Nicholas Cage airplane movie.

By now we’ve all heard of Netflix’s plan to make a real-life squid game, pitting ordinary people against one-another in an attempt to grab a huge cash prize.

Netflix seemed to test the waters of this idea last month by releasing Physical: 100.

100 of South Korea’s strongest, fastest and most ripped men and women have to compete in a series of challenges to prove who has the best body.

The competitors lining up, showing their impressive physique.

The premise didn’t sound all that exciting to me, but as soon as I saw the sheer variety of contestants my interest was piqued.

The majority of contestants are bodybuilders, soldiers and athletes, with a small smattering of fitness influencers and models.

There are also several unique players, like a professional ice climber/fire and rescue operator, a gold medalist gymnast, a dancer/model, a prison guard and a contortionist horror-actor.

The premise sounds ridiculous, surely the strongest competitor would win right?

But the challenges show that different body types excel in different fields.

And it’s fair to say. I loved it. (Spoilers from here on out)

The first challenge was a non-elimination game to determine the rankings of all the players. They were split into two groups and were made to hang onto a bar for as long as they could. If they fell they would safely land in water.

This challenge was interesting, as it flipped everyone’s expectations of what might happen, maybe the strongest wouldn’t win so easily.

The heavier competitors in this challenge tended to fall first, including an arm-wrestling champion, yet the slender horror actor Jeon Young fell first, putting him in 100th overall.

On the other hand those able to hang on longest in this challenge included the professional ice climber/fire and rescue operator, a Korean Naval Instructor and the Olympic gold gymnast Yang Hak-Seon.

The next round was where it got interesting.

This next game would eliminate 50% of the 100. There was a large, yet light ball in an arena, and whoever had the ball at the end of the three minutes would win.

Arena A was an astro-turf playground, ideal for the more agile of players, while B was a room of sand with a sand-bagged pool in the center, better suited for hand to hand combat.

The top 50 got their pick of competitor and arena, with 1st place having 1st pick.

This really showed what the contest was all about. With the first match of countless being the most interesting one by far.

100th place Jeon Young vs 2nd place Yang Hak-Seon.

The Gymnast vs The Zombie.

Both were extremely agile, with Hak-Seon able to run around the course extremely quickly, getting possession of the ball and keeping it.

Young was more like an animal, moving along all-fours and grinning at his opponent, he managed to snatch the ball half-way through, but in doing so elbowed Hak-Seon across the jaw.

By this point I was at the edge of my seat.

The ball was awarded to Hak-Seon due to the accidental foul play and the game continued, with Hak-Seon evading the tenacious zombie at every turn.

He nearly had the gymnast on three different occasions, but he was too fast, and time ran out before he could claim the ball.

The whole challenge was incredibly interesting, though it felt a little hard to sit through all the matches after that spectacular debut match.

Other matches were interesting though, such as the fight between two MMA fighters, who chose to un-ban the no striking rule, and had a fierce bout.

Another showed an insanely well-built female body-builder square off against an extremely strong and tall male competitor, and while she held her own, even throwing him into the water, she lost.

I for one, highly recommend this series, and I binged all available episodes as soon as I started.

The next two episodes release on the 7th of February.



Finn Macdiarmid

A 3rd year journalism student. Interested in Politics, Gaming, Movies, and Most Other Things As Well. My aim is to become a better writer, one day at a time.