Physical: 100 Season 1 Review – a real-life Squid Game

By Romey Norton
Published: January 24, 2023 (Last updated: January 10, 2024)
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Who’s ready for a real-life Squid Game? A competition series like no other, Physical: 100 is gripping and intense and pushes the physical body to the extreme.

We review the Netflix Korean reality series Physical: 100 Season 1, which does not contain any significant spoilers on the winner or eliminations.

Physical: 100 is the first Korean reality survival series on Netflix, so reality fans, get ready as this series pits participants against one another in a competition to display their physical prowess and dexterity. One hundred contestants, in top physical shape, compete in a series of grueling challenges to claim the honor, and the nicely sized cash reward, of the last name standing. With 3 Hundred Million Won at stake, these contestants will put their bodies through extreme pressure for this life-changing money. 

Physical: 100 Season 1 Review and the Reality Competition Premise

At first, this series made me think of Ninja Warrior meets Squid Game. There are a total of 10 episodes, each with a runtime of up to 60 minutes each, making this the Saturday night intense watch whilst you’re having your tea, judging these people who are at their peak of fitness whilst we audiences snack and probably couldn’t take on one challenge successfully. 

This series doesn’t just feature the average well-trained joe, it includes celebrities from the Netflix Korean dating series Singles Inferno, a dancer from K-Pop, Youtubers, rappers, MMA champions, Judo masters, and Olympic Gold medalists. Then there are models, bodybuilders, and farmers; a wide range of characters for audiences to route for.

Like the ever-popular series Squid Game, this series has the mantra, fight to survive, but luckily no one actually dies on this show. It’s about testing your physical and mental strength and pushing yourself and your body to its limits. The challenges are intense and even include real fights. The production and design team have created some fantastic arenas/spaces and deserve recognition for this. The first challenge is to hang from metal bars until there is one left; whilst hanging over water, so you’ll fall into something safely. It looks a lot more painful than you’d think and a lot of contestants were shocked at how early they fell. 

The opening episode begins with sculpted bodies, and contestants walking through them — they have to find their own. In a future challenge when a contest loses they have to smash their bust. This is a bit degrading but it’s very dramatic. It’s very serious compared to similar series, there isn’t a cheesy host or comedic voice-over, or a live audience cheering the contestants on. It’s all focused on the contestants and the challenge. 

READ: Best Reality Shows on Netflix 2023

Whilst it’s a clear competition, there is still huge team morale around the contestants as they watch and cheer each other on. This is really nice to see. It’s not bitchy, or manipulated, but each contestant has respect for the other. You can tell they admire and understand what it takes to get here, and that has a positive influence on the viewer. 

Is Physical: 100 good?

Yes — I think if you’re into reality game shows and into fitness, this series will entertain and impress you. It’s an easy watch, which I can see having more seasons, as there are always going to be contestants training to be in the Physical:100. As each episode has a new challenge, I was hooked into watching to see what would happen next and who would eventually win. 

What did you think of Netflix Korean reality series Physical: 100 Season 1? Comment below.

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