Go Filmography - Oriental Films
23A) The Match Year: 2023 Director: Kim Hyung-joo Starring: Lee Byung-hun, Yoo Ah-in Source: Wikipedia Comment: This Korean biopic is set in the 1980s-1990s and tells the story of how Cho discovers the gifted but untrained young boy, Lee Chang-ho, in an amateur contest. He takes him under his wing to turn into a professional player. Conflicts arise when the protégé later turns against his teachings. 21A) Go Through the Dark Year: 2021 Director: Yunhong Pu Source: DOC NYC Comment: This Chinese film premiered at the 2021 DOC NYC film festival. In the film, a blind Chinese boy is very skilled at Go. However Guanglin is being raised by a single father with limited means and he faces prejudices against blind people. 14A) The Divine Move (Shinui Hansu) Year: 2014 Director: Jo Bum-Gu Cast: Jung Woo-Sung, Lee Beom-Soo Source: Wiki IMDB Trailer: YouTube Comment: A gangster and Go movie. Professional Go player Tae-Seok loses his brother to infamous underground gambler Sal-Soo after losing a high-stakes game. Framed for the murder of his own brother and locked up in prison, Tae-Seok vows revenge and trains ferociously. After serving his seven-year sentence, Tae-Seok gets in touch with his brother's former associate Tricks, hermit and blind master player Jesus and skillful junkyard owner Mok-Su, and begins formulating a plan to get back at Sal-Soo and his men. Slowly penetrating Sal-Soo's inner circle and his gambling joint, Tae-Seok eliminates Sal-Soo's men one by one. But when Sal-Soo discovers Tae-Seok's true identity, one final game will seal the fate of the two men. Also each section of the movie is labelled according to the various phases of a game, opening, counting, etc. (Korean Language - English subtitled version available.) 13A) New World Year: 2013 Directed by: Park Hoon-jung Cast: Lee Jung-jae, Choi Min-shik, Hwang Jung-min Source: IMDB Comment: This Korean gangster movie looks at the conflicts between the mob and the police through the eyes of an undercover cop. In the trailer, a lady is seen sitting at a Go board and later her opponent smacks the board sending the stones flying. 13B) The Stone (Deo Seu-ton or Dol) Year: 2013 Director: Cho Se-rae Source: IMDB Trailer: YouTube Comment: A gangster and Go movie. Coming to grips with the truth that he will never earn a living playing Baduk, a young man's chance encounter with a local gangster finds him with a new pupil in Deo Seu-ton. This Korean drama is about the vastly different past and future of the two men and contrasts Go to the gangster scene. At one point, while walking down a street, a character muses "If life is a game of Go, I wish I can place my first stone again." 12A) Tenchi: the Samurai Astronomer (Tenchi Meisatsu) Year: 2012 Directed by: Takita Youjirou Cast: Okada Junichi, Miyazaki Aoi, Sato Ryuta Source: IMDB Trailer: YouTube Comment: Also known as "Insight Into the Universe", this is a Japanese film about Yasui Santetsu, a Go player and famous Japanese astronomer, better known as Shibukawa Shunkai. The creator of the Japanese Jokyo calendar and the author of many books about astronomy, he also played with his friend and rival, Honinbo Dosaku, in castle games. The famous game between Dosaku and Santetsu, where Santetsu opened on tengen, is depicted in the film. It stars Okada Junichi, a Japanese actor who is also a member of the pop group V6. The trailer starts with shots of him holding a Go stone and playing the tengen move. 12B) Tokyo Newcomer Year: 2012 Directed by: Jiang Qinmin Cast: Qin Hao, Chieko Baisho, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi Go Consultant: Li Ting 1p Source: IMDB Watch: Trailer YouTube Comment: The latest film by Jiang Qinmin (who also directed "The Last Sunflower" and "Sky Lovers") "Tokyo Newcomer" is "a touching drama about true communication, transcending national borders and generation gaps, through Go." Naturally it features quite a bit of Go. Chinese Go genius Yoshiryu (Qin Hao) comes to Japan to hone his skills in the game, but finds he's too busy earning a living to study Go at all. One day he drops his Go set (in a red lacquer box) on the street and an old woman hawking vegetables helps him pick them up. They become friends and so he becomes a close friend of her grandson. The grandson has a certain coolness towards Go and gets involved in a fight which changes the course of the story. Later on it turns out the old women is a descendant of a prestigious Go family. At 38 minutes in, Yoshiryu enters a amateur tournament and we see scenes of this in progress in the ground floor rooms of the Nihon Ki-in in Ichigaya. In this scene the main character is playing against Matsumoto Takehisa, 7p. Later we see other games, including a game played in front of distinguished guests with a proper goban and stones in an traditional Japanese building, as well as games at the woman's home, in a cubicle hotel and a Go club. Another scene is filmed in the Nihon Ki-in's Go Museum. At one point Takemiya Yoko, 5p, poses as a TV analyst. Japanese with Chinese or English subtitles. 100 minutes. 11A) Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale (Sai De Ke Ba Lai) Year: 2011 Directed by: Te-Sheng Wei Cast: Masanobu Ando, Umin Boya, Chi-Wei Cheng Source: IMDB Trailer: YouTube Comment: Taiwanese film set in the Japanese occupation of Taiwan when in 1930 the local Seediq people rebelled. Visible in the extended film trailer (4:21 in), in one scene an injured man talks leaning over a Go board with stones on. (Japanese and Seediq language with Chinese and English subtitles.) 11B) White Vengeance (Hong Men Yan Chuan Qi) Year: 2011 Directed by: Daniel Lee Cast: Shao-Feng Feng, Leon Lai, Hanyu Zhang, Anthony Wong Source: IMDB Comment: This tells the story of two brothers contending for supremacy during the fall of the Qin Dynasty in the 3rd century BC. At a banquet advisors Fan Zeng (Anthony Wong) and Zhang Liang (Zhang Hanyu) play a long Go match that is supposed to mirror the path the warring brothers have set out on. They play on a row of metre high Go tables with over- sized grey boards, the biconvex stones held in metal stands, the moves called out by the players as the Go master playing them all is blind. To remove captured stones they bang the table with a sword and catch the stones as they fly in the air (see 71 minutes in)! The philosophy of I Ching is mentioned during the match. As usual the scene ends up as a bloody sword fight with the tables being knocked over. (Chinese language.) 10A) 13 Assassins (Jusan nin no Shikaku) Year: 2010 Directed by: Takashi Miike Cast: Koji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada, Yusuke Iseya Source: IMDB Comment: A Japanese (with English subtitles) period Samurai movie set in 1844, a remake of a 1963 film. 13 samurai assassins set out to kill the ruthless Lord Naritsugu. No Go board can be seen, but 40 minutes in, before the 13 set off, two men, Hanbei Kito and Shinza who he is visiting, talk about continuing a series of games of Go. They later fight to the death at the end of the spectacular battle scene. H: "Thought you had left." S: "If we had time, I'd enjoy a game of 'go'" H: "I still lead in wins." S: "Leave our score aside until we meet again." 10B) Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (Di Renjie zhu tongtian diguo) Year: 2010 Directed by: Hark Tsui Cast: Andy Lau, Carina Lau Source: IMDB Watch: YouTube Comment: A Chinese detective thriller with lots of CGI and martial arts (English subtitles). Dee has to solve the mysterious deaths by fire that stop the inauguration of Empress Wu. In one scene the Prince is sitting on a terrace with staff around him playing music and attending to him. He is seen clearing the board after a game and is discussing how he is going to succeed. As he talks an assassin kills him with an arrow from the roof above and he slumps on to the board revealing the stones are turquoise and orange crystals. The board is the kind with black and white ornate sides, and a brown top with white lines. 10C) The Man from Nowhere Year: 2010 Directed by: Jeong-Beom Lee Cast: Taek-Sik Cha Source: IMDB Watch: YouTube Comment: A Korean thriller about the drug trade in which at 20:40 in a man follows a girl into a corner shop to find the old owner at his counter reviewing a game on his board. He is holding a folded baduk magazine in his left hand and placing stones from wooden bowls with his right. We see him a few times over the next minute and also a close up of the edge of the board as money is placed on the counter. (English dubbed version available.) 08A) Rough Cut (Yeong-hwa-neun Yeong-hwa-da) Year: 2008 Directed by: Hun Jang Cast: Ji-Sub So, Su-Hyeon Hong, Ji-Hwan Kang Source: IMDB Comment: Korean film about a gangster who wants to be an actor and an an actor who wants to be a gangster. In one scene, 77 mins in , a visitor to jail sticks a transparency of a Go game on the window between him and the inmate, and the inmate indicates a move that result in the capture of a group. Later, at 82 minutes, we see the captured stones have been crossed out. 08B) The I-go King and His Son (Qi Wang He Ta Er Zi) Year: 2008 Directed by: Wei Zhou Cast: Hai-Yan Meng, Song Sun, Cheng-Yang Wang Source: IMDB Comment: His friends call Liu Yishou, an amateur Go player, "the King of Go." Liu was laid off, and with no other skills to make a living, teaches the strategic board game in a humble training school for children. Life has been hard for Liu, but his son, Xiaochuan, has chosen to stay with him through the difficulties. On an unexpected occasion, Xiaochuan displays an amazing talent for Go, and his father vows to encourage the further development of his game. Along the way the father and son are confronted with challenges, but with courage, persistence and profound love, they eventually arrive at the destination toward which they were headed. 07A) The Warlords (Tau Ming Chong) Year: 2007 Directed by: Peter Chan and Wai Man Yip Cast: Jet Li, Andy Lau, Takeshi Kaneshiro Source: IMDB Watch: YouTube Comment: The movie is set in the 1860s during the Taiping Rebellion. Of course there are battles and martial arts and a love triangle. At 56:19, for about a minute, two of the Emperors' officials are talking while playing Go, whilst a third sits back and discusses with them. They are using their moves to refer to the fate of General Pang (played by Jet Li). We see a grey board from above and Chinese stones, and they play a few moves, each with a sharp click. 07B) The Yakiniku Movie: Bulgogi (Yakiniku Muubii: Purukogi) Year: 2007 Directed by: Su-yeon Gu Source: IMDB Watch Clip: YouTube Cast: Ryuhei Matsuda, Yu Yamada, Arat Comment: A Japanese Comedy about a small-town traditional restaurant trying to make it big in a TV cookery contest. In the restaurant scenes the old master cook and his friend are seated at a table with a goban and wooden bowls in it. They are constantly pondering the game, without a single move played during the movie. 08A) Hana - the Tale of a Reluctant Samurai (Hana Yori Mo Naho) Year: 2006 Director: Koreeda Hirokazu Cast: Okada Junichi, Miyazawa Rie Source: Wiki Trailer: YouTube Comment: In this period drama the main character, Sozaemon "Soza" Aoki, moves to an Edo slum seeking revenge after the death of his father, but gets involved with the locals and has second thoughts. Go has a small but very important part to play, as it forms the link between Soza and his deceased father. The first Go scene is 21 minutes in where Go is played with shabby equipment consistent with the slum, for instance the Go ban sits straight on the tatami and at 40 minutes Soza manages to balance 5 thin stones on each other whilst contemplating. Another game is in progress at night, about 98 minutes in, mostly with distant views or head shots of the players talking, but also one close up of the board position. (Japanese, dubbed English version available.) 06B) Ten Nights of Dreams (Yume Juu Ya) Year: 2006 Director: Various - Dream 9 Miwa Nishikawa Cast: Tamaki Ogawa, Pierre Taki Source: IMDB Watch: YouTube Comment: This film is based on a short story collection by Natsume Soseki. It is split into ten dreams; each bizarre and often gory dream sequence is by a different director. The ninth dream (starts at 85 mins) is about the affect of war on a family. In it the mother is seen clapping to start prayer, but then taking a white Go stone from a pouch and laying it on the floor. As in all good dreams, this happens more than once. At the end of the dream (at 90:35 mins) we see a photo of the family, on the floor, next to black and white stones. (Japanese language, English subtitled version available.) 06C) The Go Master (Wu Qingyuan) Year: 2006 Directed by: Tian Zhuangzhuang Cast: Chang Chen Source: Movie Homepage IMDB Comment: The life of Go Seigen (Wu Qingyuan), produced in China, was on international release in Autumn 2006 and shown at various film festivals, and is available on DVD with English subtitles (107 minutes). Go Seigen needs no introduction as one of the top players of the last century. The film tells his story how as a Chinese prodigy he has to move to Japan to compete. When the two countries are at war his allegiances are torn, but he remains in Japan and later gets sucked into a religious cult which tries to exploit his celebrity. However he loyalty to the discipline of his vocation as a Go player. The film has been described as "visually elegant and psychologically astute", but other reviews say the film was not up to expectations. We see various professional Go games being played, a very elegant nigiri, game records being studied, and a Go pupils' study group. The film starts with modern-day footage of Go Seigen and his family in a garden discussing how the monkeys steal the persimmon fruit. 06D) The Host (Gwoemul) Year: 2006 Directed by: Joon-ho Bong Cast: Kang-ho Song, Hie-bong Byong, Hae-il Park Source: IMDB Comment: A Korean monster movie. Go can briefly be seen about 26.5 minutes into the movie, when a large TV set is turned on and before the channel is changed. A large image of a demo board with a game reviewer playing a stone is seen behind the man in rescue clothing who is operating the TV. The game shown is believed to be a review of O Meien (white) verses Pak Yeong-hun in the 1st Zhonghuan Cup from 2004. 05A) Duelist (Hyeong-sa) Year: 2005 Directed by: Myung-se lee Cast: Ji-won Ha, Sung-kee Ahn, Dong-won Kang Source: IMDB Comment: Joseon dynasty Korean sword-fighting movie where the villain, who conspires against the government, plays Go. About 70 minutes in he is seen capturing a white stone. At about 90 minutes he plays a move, but is disturbed by a noise tips the ban over scattering stones. 04A) The Taste of Tea (Cha no Aji) Year: 2004 Directed by: Katsuhito Ishii Cast: Tadanobu Asana, Takahiro Sato Source: Wikipedia IMDB Comment: Although Go is not the only focus of the film, it is one of its essential ingredients and appears more often than in other films like Pi and A Beautiful Mind. The film is concerned with the lives of the Haruno family, who live in rural Tochigi prefecture, the countryside north of Tokyo. Nobuo is a hypnotherapist who teaches his son, Hajime, to play Go. Hajime becomes an excellent Go player, but he has a rough time with girls and puberty. Nobuo's wife, Yoshiko refuses to be an average housewife, and works on animated film projects at home. She uses assistance from Grandfather Akira, an eccentric old man who is a former animator and occasional model. Uncle Ayano, a sound engineer and record producer, moves in with the family. He is looking to restart his life again after living in Tokyo for several years. Meanwhile, Yoshiko's daughter Sachiko, believes that she is followed around everywhere by a giant version of herself, and she searches for ways to rid herself of it. Go is played variously at school, at home and in Go clubs. 03A) Onmyoji II Year: 2003 Directed by: Yojiro Takita Cast: Mansai Nomura, Hideaki Ito, Kiichi Nakai Source: IMDB Watch: YouTube Comment: Japanese historical movie in which demons dismember Japanese nobles. At 6:39 in the main character, Abe no Seimei, plays Go against a spirit (a shikigami) in the form of his friend Minamoto no Hiromasa, a monk. The goban has tall thin legs and they have bowls on the floor. As a white stone is played with a click, the opponent turns into a small paper cut-out man. 02A) Hero (Ying Xiong) Year: 2002 Directed by: Yimou Zhang Source: IMDB Comment: The main character fights against a bad guy and then plays a game that could be Go, but more likely Five-in-a-Row, outside on a large board, over which it rains, placing the stones inside the raised squares with strange long forks. 02B) So Close (Chik yeung tin sai) Year: 2002 Directed by: Corey Yuen Cast: Shu Qi, Zhao Wei, Karen Mok Source: IMDB Comment: In this action movie from Singapore, where a girl cop takes on two assassin sisters, there is a very short scene two guards are shown playing Go on a mega screen inside a very high tech building. 02C) When the Last Sword is Drawn (Mibu Gishi Den) Year: 2002 Directed by: Yojiro Takita Cast: Kiichi Nakai, Koichi Sato, Yui Natsukawa Source: IMDB Comment: Japanese samurai movie in which at 46:03 minutes we see a goban with two bowls of stones on top of the board, in the background. At 48:51 we see the local lord playing Go on a goban, whilst conversing about his opponent's impending marriage. 01A) Volcano High (Hwasango) Year: 2001 Directed by: Tae-gyun Kim Cast: Hyuk Jang, Min-a Shin, Su-ro Kim Source: IMDB Watch: YouTube Comment: 23:00 in, there is a long scene (2.5 minutes) where two teachers, Director Jang Oh-Ja and Subdirector Jang Hak-Sa, play Go together. A third man pours tea for them. It is quite a funny scene, at one point the director claims he can move the stones with his will-power and the board (seen from above) starts to shake. The sub-director grabs the sides to stop it, revealing the Goban having three carved symbols on the side and the director removing his hands from the legs. 98A) Hitman or Contract Killer (Sat Sau Ji Wong) Year: 1998 Directed by: Wei Tung Cast: Jet Li, Simon Yam Source: IMDB Trailer: YouTube Comment: The final fight is staged in a Japanese style room where there is a goban, with wooden bowls and stones on the top (seen from 71:25). In the fight, a man is hurled across the room towards the goban (at 74:13) and later there is a brief glimpse of the goban being tipped over and used to hit the man. After this Go stones are seen scattered on the floor. In an earlier scene set in the room (seen in the trailer) the goban is in the background, with bowls on the floor, and two women are lying down in the foreground. 97A) Yapian Zhanzheng (The Opium War) Year: 1997 Directed by: Jin Xie Cast: Bao Guoan, Debra Beaumont Original music by: Fuzai Jin Source: IMDB Watch: YouTube Part 1 Part 2 Comment: 68:50 into the film (14:20 in part 2) Lin Xezu is playing Go in a pavilion. The board is thin and sits on a round stone table with a central leg. There are wooden bowls, but the edge-on view does not show the position. However the moves are played very elegantly as he fans himself. A man runs up to informed him about the arrival of the British fleet. The other player tells him to carry on playing. The film is interesting, especially as it shows the Opium War period seen from the Chinese side. As a consequence of the Chinese defeat, Hong Kong became a British colony. Bilingual Mandarin and English, with both subtitled for Cantonese viewers. 96A) Qi Yuan - Chun Qiu (Go Courtyard - Fall, Spring) Year: 1996? Comment: This movie has more Go in it than possibly any other! It is a 'bowl-boiler' Chinese-made-for-TV Go movie (four hours, five cassettes). The movie takes place in a palace during the Sung Dynasty period c. 1100 A.D. and is based on fact in a loose way. In the southern Manchurian kingdom of Liao, everyone in the court is mad about Go and in the courtyard there is a Go school. A princess is a top player. The top player in the Sung court is a man (a 'prince') who is looking for someone to play and ends up, so to say, 'courting' the princess. There is an ongoing palace coup plot, of course, and the servant girl of the princess is forced to play Go for her life. 96B) Three Friends (Sechinku) Year: 1996 Directed by: Soon-Rye Yim Cast: Hyun-Sung Kim, Hee-Suk Jung, Jang-Won Lee Source: IMDB Comment: Korean film about three young friends. One character is obsessed with Baduk. 94A) Deadful Melody Year: 1994 Directed by: Min Kun Ng Cast: Brigitte Lin, Biao Yuen Source: IMDB Watch: YouTube Comment: At 62:40 of this period fantasy adventure there is a one minute scene where an old man in red and a younger man in black discuss a marriage while sitting at a table with refreshments and a grey thin Go board. There is a game underway but no more moves are played. The one in black crushes a black stone with his fingers before magically rushing off to sort the marriage. 94B) Jing Wu Ying Xiong (Fist of Legends) Year: 1994 Directed by: Gordon Chan Cast: Jet Li, Siu-hou Chin Source: IMDB Comment: The film is set in pre-Japanese invasion China. It contains a two minute scene (about 75 minutes in) where the Japanese Ambassador is seated at a Go ban with Uncle Funakushi, who is described as samurai clan. However they are clearly playing 5-in-a-row not Go (White wins on the second move shown), however the ban is black with white lines and white decoration on the sides, and they have Chinese-style stones and brown bowls. They discuss impending war as they tidy the stones (different amounts are tidied depending on camera angle). Later the ban is briefly seen again in a fight sequence. The film is dubbed English, but a subtitled version refers to the game as Chess. 93A) You Seng (Temptation of a Monk) Year: 1993 Directed by: Clara Law Cast: Joan Chen, Michael Lee, Lisa Lu Source: IMDB Watch: Excerpt on YouTube Comment: Set in 7th century China and featuring a monk, forbidden love and the usual warfare, there are three Go scenes. In one scene a man is seen studying moves (replaying a game) on a goban while a maid looks on; he tips the goban over towards the camera in frustration. In another two men are seated on the floor playing and placing the stone very elegantly. 92A) Sex and Zen (Yu pu tuan zhi: Tou qing bao jian) Year: 1992 Directed by: Michael Mak Cast: Lawrence Ng Source: IMDB Comment: A Go board can sometimes be seen. 92B) Tui Shou (Pushing Hands) Year: 1992 Directed by: Ang Lee Cast: Bin Chao, Victor Chan, Source: IMDB Comment: This movie features a master of the martial art called Pushing Hands who moves to New York where there is a clash of cultures. There is a scene where the father and son are playing Go and the son slaps a stone down (like a surprise checkmate) and captures a big group. 89A) Long Xing Tian Xia (The Master) Year: 1989 Directed by: Tsui Hark Cast: Jet Li Source: IMDB Comment: Set in LA, somewhere in the film you see a Go board. 88A) Men Behind the Sun (Hei Tai Yang 731) Year: 1988 Directed by: Tun Fei Mou Cast: Gang Wang, Hsu Guo, Tie Long Lin, Zhaohua Mei Source: IMDB Watch: YouTube Comment: Set in Manchuria during WWII at the notorious Japanese experimentation camp 731, Go equipment appears in a couple of scenes. 38.5 minutes in, Ishikawa and the medical painter are playing Go at the side of a room where the soldiers are eating and drinking. They argue over the morality of their squadron's experiments on the Chinese people, or "maruta" as they were often called. There is no good view of the board as people sit in the way. At about 44 minutes, there is a goban on the floor of the geisha house General Ishii visits. He plucks hair from the armpits of a young courtesan which causes her to kick a bowl of stones off the goban and the white stones spill all over the floor as the white ceramic bowl breaks; this inspires his "low temperature pottery bomb". 87A) Ninja 8: Warriors of Fire Year: 1987 Directed by: Godfrey Ho Cast: Peter Davis, Jeff Houston, Glen Carson Source: IMDB Comment: A cheesy Hong Kong film, available with English dubbing, this features western ninja-fighting action. At 22:30, we get glimpses of the ninja master seated in his house studying a game on a flat Go board, with white and black bowls. A woman, who is a potential new ninja, interupts him and the board position is seen as he stands up. 85A) Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters Year: 1985 Directed by: Paul Schrader Cast: Ken Ogata Source: IMDB Comment: This beautiful film is based on the works of Yukio Mishima, At 23:28 in the master can be seen kneeling at a Goban in a tatami room. However mostly Go features in the deleted scenes section of the DVD. The scene shows the main character of Yukio Mishima's 'Temple of the Golden Pavilion' talking with his meditation master, while the master is studying a Go board. One shot in the scene is of nothing but the board. In order to exaggerate the sense of perspective, the Go board appears to be trapezoidally shaped and different sized stones are used across the board (larger stones are nearer). Since this portion of the film is purportedly lifted from Yukio Mishima's novel, it presumably features in that. The director's comments suggest that he regretted cutting the scene, but it caused some introductory material in the film to be "disproportionately long". 82A) The Go Masters (Mikan no Taikyoku) Year: 1982 Directed by: Ji-shun Duan, Junya Sato Cast: Rentaro Mikuni Source: IMDB Comment: A "Gone with the Wind" all about Go, the film examines how the relationship between a Chinese and a Japanese Go player changes because of events during the war, explained using flash backs when they meet again after the war has ended. Many Go scenes including clubs and tournaments, and a scene where the Chinese player prefers to have his Go fingers cut off than play the enemy, the Japanese. 123 minutes. 77A) Thousand Miles Escort (Ren Ba Zhao) Year: 1977 Directed by: Teng Hung Hsu Cast: Liang Chia, Ying Bai, Michelle Yim Source: IMDB Watch: YouTube Comment: A low budget Kung Fu movie which features, among other villains, a pair of Go-playing brothers who are hired to kill the protagonist and the orphan he protects. At 56 mins in they are sitting at a round table, with a thin board and a large lamp on it, when a man comes to hire them and dumps his chest of gold on the table. When it is removed, their first move as assassins is mapped out on the board. 75A) The Valiant Ones (Zhong Lei Tu) Year: 1975 Directed by: King Hu Cast: Feng Hsu, Ying Bai, Roy Chiao Source: IMDB Watch: YouTube Comment: Historical drama where the Chinese try to defend their shores from Japanese pirates. The characters are colour-coded (black or other dark shades for the Chinese, white for the Japanese). At 21:53 two people are seen seated and playing Go in the background of an interrogation scene. From 29:04 a Go board is used by the Chinese to keep track of soldiers prior to battle by placing black and white stones to represent each side (last seen at 33:52). The battles themselves are structured like a game. (Chinese with English subtitles.) 73A) The Fate of Lee Khan (Ying Chun Ge Zhi Fengbo) Year: 1973 Directed by: King Hu Cast: Angela Mao, Hu Chin, Feng Tien Source: IMDB Comment: At 1:08:20 the hero brings a Go set to the table in the inn. He tries to learn the game from another, but two soldiers take over the board and play a few strange opening moves. At 72:10 we get a close up of the almost full board with some surrounded stones on it. The hero tries kibitzing and is told not to meddle. 72A) Fist of Fury (Jing Wu Men) also known as The Chinese Connection Year: 1972 Directed by: Wei Lo Cast: Bruce Lee, Nora Miao, James Tien Source: IMDB Comment: In one scene characters can be seen putting stones on a board. In a fight scene the board is on a spindly table and the board is thrown in someone's face. 72B) Five Fingers of Death (Tian Xia Di Yi Quan) Year: 1972 Directed by: Chang-Hwa Jeong Cast: Lieh Lo, Wang Ping Source: IMDB Comment: A Hong Kong martial arts film about two rival dojos, with minimal Go content, if any. 70A) Zatoichi Abare-Himatsuri (Adventures of Zatoichi 21 - Zatoichi At the Fire Festival) Year: 1970 Directed by: Kenji Misumi, Nakadai Tatsuya Cast: Shintarou Katsu Source: Zatoichi homepage IMDB Watch: YouTube Comment: There is a scene that lasts about 90 seconds at 77:03, where Zatoichi plays the Big Boss, who is also blind, in a game of Go. The scene opens in silhouette and then moves in so we can see the goban and the position clearly. They know where the moves have been played by feel and sound; the moves are correctly played with a click. The boss does seem to rattle his bowl though and we get a close up of Zatoichi picking a black stone from his elegantly lacquered and decorated bowl. The boss drops a white stone into his left hand and then we see him play tiddlywinks to flick a black stone into Zatoichi's face. In retaliation Zatoichi then flicks a a stone to knock the last White move off the board and replace the lost black stone in the correct position. They then both drink as the tension rises, but in the end they both laugh off the situation. 67A) Dragon Inn (also Dragon Gate Inn, orig. Long Men Kezhan) Year: 1967 Director: King Hu Cast: Lingfen Shangguan, Chun Shih, Ying Bai Source: IMDB Watch: YouTube Comment: This Taiwanese sword-play classic is set in 15th century China where an evil faction tries to elimiate the family of an executed rival. The clash occurs at the inn in the title when the evil gang come in contact with expert swordsmen on the side of good. At 14:45 in, the we see the local army camp with two soldiers seated with a Go board balanced on rocks and playing Go. The camera pans in for a couple of seconds as two moves are played, before a swordsman from the evil faction downs them with a single sword blow. One of the players slumps over the board and second swordsman steps over the board to find their next target. (Chinese Language with subtitles.) 64A) Kwaidan (Ghost Stories, orig. Kaidan) Year: 1964 Directed by: Masaki Kobayashi Cast: Michiyo Aratama, Keiko Kishi, Rentaro Mikuni Source: IMDB Comment: The movie tells four horror stories from Japanese legends; the Go is in the first: "Black Hair". The board position is just entering midgame, with corner sequences played out and a very complicated fight in the bottom right corner, but no play on the sides. The wife, born into wealth, is playing against a courtesan. She rises, announces that she quits the game, and mutters "the same old boring game" as she exits the room. She proceeds to smack her sleeping husband in the face with a fan and berates him for being obsessed with his first wife and for having only married her for her money. 64B) Zatoichi Seki-sho Yaburi (Adventures of Zatoichi 9 - Zatoichi Demolishes the Barrier) Year: 1964 Directed by: Kimiyoshi Yasuda Cast: Shintarou Katsu Source: Zatoichi homepage IMDB Watch: YouTube Comment: Zatoichi was a character in a number of Japanese samurai films; he was called "the blind swordsman". In this film, 25:45 in, two men, the Oyabun (boss) and his adviser, who takes white, are playing Go in a typical tatami-matted room. The Oyabun slaps his stones down in a complaining manner, whilst the adviser holds the wrongly. When Zatoichi enters to ask some kind of favour, the chief samurai arrives and he and Zatoichi draw their swords and the blades pass, but apparently no contact is made. Both sheath their swords, and the conversation continues. The proverbial comment is supposed to be made: "A Go player's concentration is such that they will miss their own parents funeral when playing Go". Zatoichi leaves and the Oyabun and the adviser exchange some words. The adviser then plays his next move. The board collapses, having been sliced through the middle, without any of the stones being disturbed. All the stones pour on to the floor. 62A) Autumn Afternoon (Sanma no aji) Year: 1962 Directed by: Yasujiro Ozu Cast: Shima Iwashita, Daisuke Kato, Kyoko Kishida, Noriko Maki, Shinichiro Mikami Source: IMDB Comment: This film seems to consist entirely of men in meetings eating and drinking. However in a three minute scene at 92 mins, two men are shown seated on the floor between a low refreshment table and an open screen. They talk and eat while playing stones on a Go ban. We see each player in turn, sometimes slapping a stone down and sliding it in to place, but we do not get to see the full position; the table is often in the way so we often only hear their Go stones being played. 62B) Chushingura - Hana no maki yuki no maki (or 47 Ronin - note not the 1941 version) Year: 1962 Directed by: Hiroshi Inagaki Source: IMDB Comment: The film is about 3.5 hours long. At 3 hours, towards the end of the climactic fight in the palace, a trapped samurai picks up a full size floor Goban and hurls it at his attacker who deflects it with a swipe of his sword. The victim then hurls a bowl of white stones at him with no effect at all. The stones fly like snow flakes. Two of the attacker's buddies crash in and that's all for the victim. This scene is depicted on numerous woodblock prints. The story is a cherished legend and is one of the more popular kabuki stories. 62C) Tsubaki Sanjuro Year: 1962 Directed by: Akira Kurosawa Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Keiju Kobayashi Source: IMDB Comment: Kurosawa classic featuring a samurai who saved a framed and imprisoned uncle. In a long sequence the main character rests next to a goban, while others are rushing in and out, and then he perches atop it to instruct his young samurai. 58B) Night Drum (The Adulteress or Yoru no tsuzumi) Year: 1958 Directed by: Tadashi Imai Cast: Rentaro Mikuni, Ineko Arima, Masayuki Mori Source: IMDB Trailer: YouTube Comment: In this samurai film, involving alleged adultery and the attempt to prove innocence by a samurai's wife, an early scene (about 4 mins in) has the travelling party of samurai spending the night in an inn and two of them are briefly seen playing Go, first in the background and then slapping a stone on the ban in the foreground. 58A) Borei Kaibyo Yashiki (Mansion of the Ghost Cat) Year: 1958 Directed by: Nobuo Nakagawa Cast: Toshio Hosakawa Source: IMDB Trailer: YouTube Comment: A violent ghost story featuring a samurai and haunted cat. The trailer shows two men in a tatami room at a goban decorated with flowers on its side. One of the men is then run through by the other's sword and he grasps stones as he slumps in agony on the goban. 54A) Godzilla (Gojira) Year: 1954 Directed by: Ishiro Honda Cast: Akira Takarada, Momoko Kouchi, Akihiko Hirata, Takashi Shimura, Fuyuki Murakami, Sachio Sakai, Toranosuke Ogawa Source: IMDB Comment: The first classic Godzilla movie, in which a scene has two sailors playing Go. 51A) Bakushuu (Early Summer) Year: 1951 Directed by: Yasujiro Ozu Cast: Chikage Awajima, Setsuko Hara Source: IMDB Watch: YouTube Comment: Yasujiro Ozu's typical (that is, outstanding) family drama, known in the west as "Early Summer". It is a story of romance, arranged marriages and family life in post-war Tokyo. The one Go scene at 48:25 has the head of the household, a doctor, playing Go with a friend, talking, smoking and drinking, on a Sunday in, of course, early summer. The are seated with the goban on a table and a close up of the player with his back to the camera shows he holds the white stones properly whereas the other does not. At one point they discuss if a stone has moved and the doctor says he has left his house as it is full of children (playing with an electric train set it turns out). 51B) Genji Monogatari Year: 1951 Directed by: Kozaburo Yoshimura Cast: Kazuo Hasegawa, Michiyo Kogure Source: IMDB Watch: YouTube Comment: At 16:15 in there is the famous Go scene. The camera pans through a rainy courtyard to where Lady Fujitsubo and her maid are counting a game of Go. The maid counts to 26 points and says it looks like she has lost. They agree, stating her last move was an error. As the maid packs away the stones, Fujitsubo goes to the window to look at the rain and finds Genji watching. The maid completes the packing up and caries the board away after bowing, revealing the goban to have decorated sides and an ornate frame base. Genji then enters to have his way with Fujitsubo. 49A) Stray Dog (Nora Inu) Year: 1949 Director: Akira Kurosawa Cast: Toshiro Mifune Source: IMDB Comment: This film features a homicide detective looking for a criminal. Ten minutes before the end he scans a railway station waiting room for suspects. The two men who might fit the description are reading newspapers which possibly have Go diagrams visible. (Japanese language.) 44A) Army (Rikugun) Year: 1944 Directed by: Keisuke Kinoshita Cast: Chishu Ryu, Kinuyo Tanaka Source: IMDB Comment: This wartime propaganda movie is famous for its extraordinary and subversive final sequence in which a distraught mother Waka, played by Kinuyo Tanaka, jostles through a flag-waving crowd to catch a final glimpse of her son before he goes off to fight. In an earlier scene, her militaristic husband (played by Ryu) sits at a goban whilst berating the son, who is still stationed at the base and hasn't seen action. The position cannot be seen because of the angle but it appears to be in endgame. Waka says to her husband's opponent: "Can't you let him win a game for once? He takes it out on his family otherwise." 42A) There was a Father (Chichi Ariki) Year: 1942 Directed by: Yosujiro Ozu Cast: Chishu Ryu, Shuji Sano, Shin Saburi Source: IMDB Comment: A story about the relationship between a widowed father and his son, spread over several years. The father, a teacher, plays another at Go during a school outing, whilst the unattended children go out on a boat with one of them getting killed. This tragedy leads to the father and son being separated. After the drowning incident, the father is reunited with his ex-colleague more than ten years later, when they run into each other at a Go club in Tokyo that they both frequent.
Last updated Tue Oct 03 2023.
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