The Cinematic Journey of Go: Movies, Asian Dramas, Documentaries, and Anime

Go's Cinematic Journey - Cover, diverse Go portrayals
Go's Cinematic Journey - Cover, diverse Go portrayals

The ancient game of Go, known as Baduk in Korea and Weiqi in China, has been a source of inspiration in various forms of visual storytelling. From intense dramas and documentaries to engaging anime, these works capture the intricate beauty and strategic depth of Go. This article explores the diverse ways in which Go has been portrayed in movies, documentaries, asian dramas, and anime, highlighting its cultural significance and the impact it has on both players and viewers alike.

Leading the Board: Movies, Asian Dramas, and Anime Centered on the Game of Go

In the world of cinema and television, several movies, asian dramas, and anime have placed Go at the forefront. These stories often revolve around professional Go players or those passionately devoted to the game, showcasing the intensity, strategy, and emotion tied to this ancient board game. Explore how these narratives bring the game of Go to life, delving into the minds and lives of those who play it.

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Weiqi Shaonian | Go Youngsters or I-Go Youngster (2005-2022)


I-Go Youngster (2005-2022)

“Weiqi Shaonian” (Go Youngsters or I-Go Youngster) is a historical anime set in China, blending Weiqi (Go) with adventure and competition. The series follows Liuer Jiang, a young protagonist, through challenges in the Weiqi world. Both seasons are filled with intense Weiqi games, close-ups of Weiqi boards, and the tension of matches combined with action scenes. This mix of strategy and action adds excitement to the series, making Weiqi a tool for showcasing intellect and strategy. In 2018, it became globally accessible with English translations. “Weiqi Shaonian” appeals to young anime fans, Weiqi players, and those who enjoy a blend of cultural richness and adventure.

Qi Hun (2020)


Watch the c-drama on iQIYI

“Qi Hun,” a 2020 adaptation of “Hikaru no Go,” reimagines the story in 1990s China over 36 episodes. It follows Shi Guang, akin to Hikaru, who bonds with Chu Ying, a Weiqi-playing ghost. Their relationship intertwines the supernatural with Weiqi’s strategic world, emphasizing the rivalry between Shi Guang and Yu Liang, a pro Weiqi player’s son. “Qi Hun” melds themes of friendship, rivalry, and growth with Weiqi, offering a fresh take on the original manga/anime. It appeals to “Hikaru no Go” fans and new viewers alike, blending drama, supernatural elements, and Weiqi’s intrigue into a compelling narrative.

Qi Hun (2020)

Hikaru no Go (2001-2003)


Watch the anime on HULU

Hikaru no Go (2001-2003)

“Hikaru no Go” is a captivating anime blending coming-of-age drama with the world of Go. It follows Hikaru Shindo, who finds an old Go board and meets the spirit of Fujiwara no Sai, a Heian-era Go master. Hikaru, initially indifferent to Go, becomes Sai’s medium and is drawn into its competitive world. His growing interest leads to a journey of personal growth as he aspires to become a professional player. The anime showcases Go’s intricate strategies and historical significance, while exploring themes of friendship, perseverance, and passion. Hikaru’s transformation from a casual player to a dedicated enthusiast is both inspiring and relatable, contributing to the series’ role in popularizing Go globally. “Hikaru no Go” appeals to a broad audience, offering an emotional and educational portrayal of the game and its impact on players’ lives.

Mikan no taikyoku | The Go Masters (1982)


“Mikan no taikyoku,” akin to “Gone with the Wind,” focuses on Go, portraying the evolving relationship between a Chinese and Japanese Go player during wartime. The film uses flashbacks to depict their friendship and rivalry, exacerbated by the war’s pressures. It features vivid Go scenes from clubs and tournaments, emphasizing the players’ dedication. A notable moment is the Chinese player choosing to lose his fingers, necessary for Go, over playing against the Japanese, symbolizing his deep cultural and national loyalty. This act underscores Go’s significance beyond competition, intertwining with personal identity and historical events. “Mikan no taikyoku” is a rich narrative offering both entertainment and insight into Go’s impact on individual lives and socio-political dynamics.

The Go Masters (1982)

Deo Shi-tong | Dol | The Stone (2013)


The Stone (2013)

“Deo Shi-tong” or “The Stone” is a Korean movie that creatively merges gangster drama with the strategic game of Baduk (Go). It narrates the tale of a young man who turns to mentorship in Baduk under a local gangster after failing to earn a living through the game. The movie contrasts the disciplined world of Baduk with the chaotic realm of gangsters, delving into the themes of choice and consequence. A key moment in the movie poignantly reflects on life as a game of Baduk, symbolizing the longing for second chances and strategic thinking in both Baduk and life. This movie appeals to Baduk fans and those intrigued by its application in diverse life scenarios.

Xing-wu hansu | Divine Move (2014)


Watch the trailer on YouTube

“Xing-wu hansu,” also known as “Divine Move,” blends a gangster theme with professional Baduk (Go). The plot follows Tae-Seok, a Baduk player, whose life derails when his brother is murdered by an underground gambler, Sal-Soo, after a high-stakes game. Falsely imprisoned for this crime, Tae-Seok vows revenge. Upon release, he joins forces with allies including Tricks, master player Jesus, and Mok-Su, to dismantle Sal-Soo’s empire. Their plan culminates in a dramatic final Baduk match, where Tae-Seok confronts Sal-Soo. The movie’s unique structure mirrors Baduk’s phases, adding depth to its narrative of vengeance and strategy. This movie is a thrilling mix of action and strategic gameplay, appealing to both Baduk enthusiasts and fans of dynamic storytelling.

Divine Move (2014)

Shin-ui hansu: gwisupyeong | Divine Move 2: Wrathful (2019)


Watch the trailer on YouTube

Divine Move 2 Wrathful (2019)

“Shin-ui hansu: gwisupyeong,” also known as “Divine Move 2: Wrathful,” unfolds during Korea’s 1990s Baduk (Go) gambling craze. It narrates Gui-su’s life, deeply scarred by his father’s Baduk gambling addiction, leading to a life of solitude. Seeking a new beginning, Gui-su meets Il-do, a Baduk mentor who trains him to become a Baduk grandmaster, fueled by a desire for revenge. His journey takes a twist as he is pursued by a vengeful loner. This movie delves into themes of loss, revenge, and redemption, portraying Baduk’s impact as more than a game, but a force driving significant life changes and deep personal struggles.

Qi wang he ta de er zi | King I-go and His Son (2008)


“Qi wang he ta de er zi” (King I-go and His Son) is a moving story about LIU Yishou, the “Go King,” and his son, Xiao Chuan. After losing his job, Liu starts teaching Go at a children’s school. His commitment strains his family, leading to his wife leaving, but Xiao Chuan stays, sharing his father’s passion for Go. Discovering Xiao Chuan’s talent for Weiqi reignites Liu’s own passion, despite financial hardships. This movie explores sacrifice, parental support, and excellence in Go, resonating with those who appreciate the dedication and personal sacrifices involved in mastering the game. It’s a heartwarming story of a father’s devotion to his son’s future in Weiqi.

Father-son Go dynamic in 'King I-go and His Son

Tokyo ni kita bakari | Tokyo Newcomer (2014)


Watch the movie on YouTube

Tokyo Newcomer (2014)

“Tokyo Newcomer,” directed by Jiang Qinmin, is a drama blending themes of communication and cultural integration with the game of Go. The story follows Chinese Go prodigy Yoshiryu, who moves to Japan to enhance his skills but struggles to balance earning a living with his passion for Go. A chance encounter leads to an unexpected friendship with an elderly vegetable vendor and her grandson, revealing that the vendor is from a prestigious Go family. Yoshiryu’s journey takes him to an amateur tournament and various Go settings, from traditional matches to casual games at a Go club. This movie is a captivating exploration of human connections across cultural and generational divides, using Go as a metaphor for life’s complexities. It’s an engaging story for those interested in cultural stories and the depth of traditional games like Go.

Wu Qingyuan | The Go Master (2006)


Watch the trailer on YouTube

“Wu Qingyuan” (The Go Master) is a biographical movie released in 2006 about the legendary Go player Go Seigen. While receiving mixed reviews, the movie is noted for its visual elegance and psychological depth. It follows Seigen, a Chinese prodigy, who moves to Japan amidst the Sino-Japanese War, facing torn allegiances and challenges including exploitation by a religious cult. Despite these trials, he remains devoted to Go. The movie showcases professional Go games and Seigen’s dedication, with scenes like a nigiri and Go pupils’ study group, offering insight into his commitment and the game’s cultural significance. It begins with Seigen discussing monkeys stealing persimmons, symbolizing life’s struggles. “Wu Qingyuan” is not only about a Go legend’s life but also a portrayal of the historical and cultural intricacies of Go.

The Go Master (2006)
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Exploring the Game: Insightful Documentaries on Go

Documentaries about Go offer a real-world glimpse into the game’s rich history, its cultural impact, and the minds of those who play it at the highest levels. From historical explorations to modern-day competitions, these documentaries provide a profound understanding of Go, Baduk, and Weiqi, reflecting on what the game reveals about human intellect and society.

AlphaGo (2017)


Watch the movie on YouTube

The “AlphaGo Documentary” delves into the fascinating clash between Go, an ancient Chinese game with immense complexity, and advanced artificial intelligence (AI). The movie focuses on the historic 2016 DeepMind Challenge Match in South Korea, where a legendary Go master competed against an AI opponent for the first time, captivating millions worldwide and marking a significant moment in both AI development and Go history. Directed by Greg Kohs with music by Hauschka, this acclaimed documentary, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, journeys from Oxford to Bordeaux, DeepMind’s London office, and the intense tournament in Seoul. It raises critical questions about AI’s role in deciphering a 3000-year-old game and its implications for understanding human intelligence. “AlphaGo Documentary” is a deep dive into human creativity, AI’s potential, and the enduring allure of Go, appealing to those intrigued by technology, strategy games, and the intersection of human and artificial intellect.

AlphaGo (2017)

Go Through the Dark (2021)


Watch the trailer on YouTube

Go Through the Dark (2021)

“Go Through the Dark,” a touching documentary from the 2021 DOC NYC film festival, tells the story of Guanglin, a blind boy in China skilled in Go. Raised by a single father, Guanglin faces challenges in a world not accommodating to the visually impaired. The movie delves into his journey of mastering Go and fighting societal prejudices against blindness. It portrays Go as a metaphor for his life’s strategy and resilience, highlighting his determination and the strong bond with his father. The documentary advocates for inclusivity and celebrates the triumphs over life’s obstacles, making it an inspiring watch for all audiences, emphasizing the transformative power of Go and the importance of overcoming societal barriers.

The Surrounding Game (2018)


Watch the movie on the official website

“The Surrounding Game” is a captivating documentary exploring the ancient game of Go, known for its complexity and revered as an art and a strategic sport in East Asia. The movie provides an inside look at the world of professional Go players, showcasing their skills and the intense competition, particularly in high-stakes tournaments. It also follows a group of American players establishing their own Go system, aiming to popularize the game in the West. This journey uncovers the dedication, strategic prowess, and challenges faced in bringing Go to a new audience. “The Surrounding Game” delves into the game’s deep strategies and patterns, presenting Go as a reflection of life and a quest for deeper understanding. This documentary is a must-see for those interested in culture, strategy, and the pursuit of excellence, offering insights into a world where Go transcends being just a game.

The Surrounding Game (2018)

Weiqi Wonders (2020)


Watch the movie on YouTube

Weiqi Wonders (2020)

“Weiqi Wonders” is a compelling documentary that explores the cultural and historical significance of Weiqi, also known as Go. With 30 to 50 million players globally, the movie reveals Weiqi’s role beyond a board game, highlighting its evolution and varied metaphors in East Asian culture, particularly in China. Anthropologist Marc L. Moskowitz guides viewers through diverse Chinese settings, from schools to parks, showcasing Weiqi’s impact on different social strata. The documentary features interviews with a wide range of individuals, from students to retired workers and professional players, who share their stories and the game’s influence on their lives. It examines Weiqi’s symbolism and its changing role from a religious tool to a metaphor for strategy, art, and politics. “Weiqi Wonders” is an insightful look into how Weiqi shapes cultural identity and personal expression, making it a must-see for those interested in the societal impact of traditional games.

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Woven into the Plot: Movies, K-Dramas and J-Dramas Featuring the Game of Go

In some movies and k-dramas, Go might not be the central theme but still plays a significant role in the plot. These works use Go as a pivotal element to develop characters, advance the storyline, or symbolize deeper themes. Discover Movies and series where Go adds a unique layer to the narrative, enhancing the story’s depth and character development.

Eung-dab-ha-ra 1988 | Reply 1988 (2015-2016)


Watch the trailer on YouTube

Nostalgic series with Go elements in 'Reply 1988'

“Reply 1988” a Korean family drama, vividly portrays the lives of five families in 1988 Seoul, focusing on daily life, friendship, and growing up. A key character, a young Baduk (Go) genius, struggles with the subtleties of ordinary life, creating a compelling contrast between his Baduk prowess and social challenges. Baduk concepts are intricately woven into the plot, significantly shaping character development. Memorable moments include Choi Taek teaching Baduk to Sung Deok-seon and his victory over a professional Baduk player. “Reply 1988” uses Baduk as a metaphor for personal growth and navigating life’s complexities, offering a nostalgic view of 1980s Korea and appealing to a broad audience interested in family dynamics and the cultural impact of Baduk.

Misaeng (2014)


Watch the trailer on YouTube

“Misaeng,” a popular Korean drama, blends the world of Baduk (Go) with corporate life, following Jang Gue-Rae, a former Baduk trainee turned corporate intern, played by Yim Si-Wan. The series, meaning “an incomplete life,” reflects Gue-Rae’s shift from Baduk to the corporate world, using his Baduk-honed skills and strategic thinking in his new role. It features flashbacks of Baduk games, illustrating Gue-Rae’s connection to the game and its parallels with corporate strategies. Part of the plot unfolds in Jordan, adding a global dimension to the story. Based on Yoon Tae-ho’s webtoon and manga, “Misaeng” offers more than corporate drama; it’s a tale of unfulfilled dreams, resilience, and applying game tactics to life, appealing to those who value personal growth, professional challenges, and the cultural impact of games like Baduk.

Misaeng (2014)

Deo geullori | The Glory (2022)


Watch the trailer on YouTube

The Glory (2022)

“The Glory,” a Korean revenge thriller on Netflix, weaves the game of Baduk (Go) into its narrative, particularly in four episodes of its first season. The drama follows Moon Dong-Eun, played by Song, on her revenge quest against a childhood bully. From episode two, Dong-Eun learns Baduk from Joo Yeo-Jeong, a medical intern portrayed by Lee, symbolizing strategic thinking and patience crucial to her plan. Episodes 3, 4, and 8 further integrate Baduk, played in a club, enriching the plot and illustrating the game’s cultural relevance and metaphorical role in Dong-Eun’s strategy for revenge. “The Glory” intriguingly uses Baduk as a narrative device, mirroring the protagonist’s mindset and tactics in her pursuit of justice, making it a compelling series for fans of drama and psychological storytelling.

Cha no Aji | The Taste of Tea (2004)


Watch the trailer on YouTube

“The Taste of Tea” (“Cha no Aji”) is a movie set in Tochigi prefecture, intricately integrating the game of Go into the Haruno family’s life. Nobuo, a hypnotherapist, shares his passion for Go with his son, Hajime, whose Go skills contrast with his adolescent struggles. Go symbolizes Hajime’s growth and internal battles. Nobuo’s wife, Yoshiko, defies traditional roles, focusing on animation projects with support from her eccentric father, Akira. Uncle Ayano, a sound engineer, joins the family, adding to the dynamic. Yoshiko’s daughter, Sachiko, faces her imaginative challenges, imagining a giant version of herself. Go scenes at school, home, and clubs highlight its role in the family’s life. The movie merges family life, aspirations, and growth with Go’s cultural significance, offering a view into both the ordinary and extraordinary aspects of life.

Taste of Tea (2004)

Hana Yori Mo Naho | Flower (2006)


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Flower (2006)

“Hana – The Tale of a Reluctant Samurai” (Hana Yori Mo Naho) is a historical j-drama set in Edo-era Japan. It follows Sozaemon “Soza” Aoki, who initially seeks revenge for his father’s death but finds his resolve tested by the local community. Go, symbolizing the link between Soza and his late father, plays a significant role in the movie. Scenes depict Go being played with modest equipment in a slum, reflecting the simplicity of the setting. These Go scenes, though not central to the plot, enrich the narrative, highlighting the game’s influence in daily life. The movie uses Go to delve into themes of legacy, morality, and human connection, appealing to fans of period dramas and Go.

Tenchi Meisatsu | Tenchi: The Samurai Astronomer (2012)


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“Tenchi: The Samurai Astronomer,” also known as “Insight Into the Universe,” is a Japanese movie about Yasui Santetsu, a celebrated Go player and astronomer. The movie explores his life, focusing on his creation of the Jokyo calendar and his authorship in astronomy. It highlights his Go passion, especially his rivalry with Honinbo Dosaku, featuring a pivotal game where Santetsu plays a bold tengen move. Starring Okada Junichi, the movie blends Go, science, and history, offering insight into Santetsu’s achievements and the cultural context of his era. This movie appeals to Go enthusiasts and those interested in Japanese history and cultural heritage.

The Samurai Astronomer (2012)
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Spotlight on Strategy: The Game of Go’s Appearances in Episodes

Witness the fleeting yet impactful appearances of the game of Go in various movies, asian dramas, and anime episodes. Whether it’s a critical game in a pivotal scene or a casual backdrop, these brief yet meaningful moments highlight Go’s (Baduk/Weiqi) enduring presence and symbolism in popular culture.

Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal (1999)

by Furuhashi Kazuhiro

IMDb Rating: 8.6

In a notable scene of this anime, Kogorô Katsura, a prominent samurai leader opposed to the Bakkufu (Shogunate), is depicted playing Go with his wife, blending traditional Japanese culture into the narrative.

A Beautiful Mind (2001)

by Ron Howard

IMDb Rating: 8.2

This biographical movie narrates the life of Prof. John Forbes Nash, Jr., a Nobel Prize-winning economist afflicted with paranoid schizophrenia. Notably, Nash was an avid member of the American Go Association, underscoring his connection to the game.

Early Summer | Bakushû (1951)

by Yasujiro Ozu

IMDb Rating: 8.1

Throughout this movie, there are two distinct instances where a doctor, again played by Chishu Ryu, is seen playing Go with a colleague. Although the Go board is not in view, their conversation about a seki in the game adds an interesting layer to the scene.

Hotel Del Luna (2019)

by Oh Choong-hwan

IMDb Rating: 8.1

 In episode 15, the main character Gu Chan Seong challenges the deity Ma Go Sin to a game of Go as part of the plot.

An Autumn Afternoon | Sanma no Aji (1962)

by Yasujiro Ozu

IMDb Rating: 8.0

In this Yasujiro Ozu creation, the audience is presented with a couple of scenes featuring Go games. However, due to Ozu’s distinct “tatami-camera” filming style, the actual Go boards remain unseen.

Sanjuro | Tsubaki Sanjûrô (1962)

by Akira Kurosawa 

IMDb Rating: 8.0

Akira Kurosawa’s “Sanjuro” features the protagonist, played by Toshirô Mifune, frequently near a Go board. The goban is symbolic, emphasizing Sanjuro’s role as a master strategist amidst a local clan war.

Knives Out (2019)

by Rian Johnson

IMDb Rating: 7.9

This murder mystery includes at least three characters who are casual Go players, with a scene briefly showing the game.

Kwaidan | Kaidan (1964)

by Masaki Kobayashi

IMDb Rating: 7.9

In “Kwaidan,” a compilation of four Japanese ghost stories, one tale revolves around a lord’s wife who abandons her Go game out of boredom, reflecting her disenchantment with life itself.

Hero (2002)

by Zhang Yimou

IMDb Rating: 7.9

In this visually stunning movie, the protagonist confronts an antagonist and subsequently engages in a game resembling Go, possibly Five-in-a-Row. This scene is set outdoors on a large board, with the characters using long forks to place the stones, all under a dramatic rainfall.

Honey & Clover | Hachimitsu to Kuroba (2006)

by Ken’ichi Kasai

IMDb Rating: 7.8

In episode 15 of this anime series, characters Mayama and Hanamoto are seen engaged in a game of Go.

The Man from Nowhere (2010)

by Lee Jeong-beom

IMDb Rating: 7.7

A shopkeeper is seen replaying a Go game from a book about 20 minutes into the movie.

There Was a Father | Chichi Ariki (1942)

by Yasujiro Ozu

IMDb Rating: 7.6

This film opens with a touching scene where the protagonist, a teacher portrayed by Chishu Ryu, is engaged in a game of Go with a friend. The narrative further unfolds when he unexpectedly reunites with this same friend after two decades during a session in a Tokyo Go club.

13 Assassins (2010)

by Takashi Miike

IMDb Rating: 7.5

Around 47 minutes in, a samurai mentions playing Go with another samurai.

Godzilla (1954)

by Ishirô Honda

IMDb Rating: 7.5

In this iconic movie, a brief but notable Go scene is woven into the storyline within the first five minutes, subtly integrating the game into the movie’s early narrative.

Fist of Legend | Jing Wu Ying Xiong (1994)

by Gordon Chan

IMDb Rating: 7.5

In “Fist of Legend,” directed by Gordon Chan and starring Jet Li, there’s a notable sequence where the Japanese ambassador in Shanghai and a Karate master are immersed in a game of Go, adding a strategic undertone to the movie.

Zatoichi Goes to the Fire Festival | Zatôichi abare-himatsuri (1970)

by Kenji Misumi

IMDb Rating: 7.4

The 21st movie in the Zatôichi series sees the iconic blind swordsman engaging in a Go match against a blind yakuza boss, adding a unique dimension to the narrative.

Tetris (2023)

by Jon S. Baird

IMDb Rating: 7.4

The film, illustrating Henk Rogers’ quest for the rights to Tetris, includes a scene in the Nintendo office with a Go game in the foreground, highlighting Rogers and Yamauchi’s interest in Go.

Inuyasha Episode 152 – “Protect and Plunder!” (2004)

IMDb Rating: 7.4

In this episode of the anime series, a brief scene shows two men playing Igo, though it’s a fleeting moment with no direct tie to the episode’s main storyline.

When the Last Sword is Drawn (2002)

by Yojiro Takita

IMDb Rating: 7.4

This movie features a poignant scene where the main character plays Go while discussing an impending marriage, weaving the game seamlessly into the storyline.

Heaven Knows Mr. Allison (1957)

by John Huston

IMDb Rating: 7.3

Set against the backdrop of World War II, this movie features Deborah Kerr and Robert Mitchum stranded on a Japanese-occupied island. In a critical scene, Mitchum’s character, while attempting to pilfer food, finds himself inadvertently observing a game of Go.

Pi (1998)

by Darren Aronofsky

IMDb Rating: 7.3

In Darren Aronofsky’s “Pi,” the protagonist regularly plays Go with his mentor, using the game as a backdrop for their intellectual and philosophical exchanges. This element is woven into several scenes throughout the film.

Pushing Hands | Tuī Shǒu by Ang Lee (1991)

by Ang Lee

IMDb Rating: 7.2

In Ang Lee’s Taiwanese film “Pushing Hands,” the game of Go is featured in two distinct scenes. The first occurs in a family setting, where a father and son engage in a Go match. The second scene offers a brief glimpse of Go amid mahjong games, just before the film transitions to a Tai Chi lesson led by the main character.

Hatari! (1962)

by Howard Hawks

IMDb Rating: 7.1

While not directly involving Go, “Hatari!” (meaning ‘danger’ in Swahili) intriguingly hints at a linguistic parallel, drawing a subtle connection to the strategic elements akin to those in the game of Go.

The Host | Gwoemul (2006)

by Bong Joon-ho

IMDb Rating: 7.1

In this Korean monster movie akin to “Jaws,” a Go game is depicted, likely representing the match between O Meien and Pak Yeong-hun from the 1st Zhonghuan Cup on 18th September 2004.

Ranma ½ The Movie, Big Trouble in Nekonron, China (1991)

by Shuji Iuchi

IMDb Rating: 7.0

In this anime movie, a unique twist is added with go-playing twins who mirror their Go moves on a massive board, dropping giant stones from the sky. The film’s hero eventually outmaneuvers them by strategically occupying intersections on the board.

The Warlords | Tau Ming Chong (2007)

by Peter Chan

IMDb Rating: 7.0

This movie includes a scene where two old generals play Go, using their game as a metaphor for discussing the fate of General Pang (Jet Li).

Tron Legacy (2010)

by Joseph Kosinski

IMDb Rating: 6.8

Quorra reveals that Flynn Sr. is teaching her Go, with a brief glimpse of a Go board shown.

Come See the Paradise (1990)

by Alan Parker

IMDb Rating: 6.7

Starring Dennis Quaid and Tamlyn Tomita, this film features scenes of men playing Go in a club, with additional glimpses of a Go board and bowls in an internment camp setting.

Great Teacher Onizuka (1999)

by Masayuki Suzuki

IMDb Rating: 6.6

In the fifth episode of “Great Teacher Onizuka,” directed by Masayuki Suzuki, a scene at 13 minutes and 45 seconds features Fujitomi sensei playing Go near a pool during summer vacation, adding a leisurely and strategic aspect to the episode.

Black Mansion Cat | Borei kaibyo yashiki (1958)

by Nobuo Nakagawa

IMDb Rating: 6.5

This Japanese horror movie delves into the supernatural, centering around a house haunted by the ghost of a cat-woman. The haunting is rooted in a tragic past incident, the murder of a Go master during the Edo period.

Restless (1998)

by Jule Gilfillan

IMDb Rating: 6.3

“Restless,” directed by Jule Gilfillan, stars Catherine Kellner as Leah, a wandering soul who finds herself in Beijing. Her story intertwines with a young Weiqi master, whom she had seen on television, leading to a series of events best left unrevealed to avoid spoilers.

Mr. Nice (2010)

by Bernard Rose

IMDb Rating: 6.3

The protagonist Howard is introduced to Go at a party, leading to a philosophical discussion comparing the game’s concept of freedom to real life.

Tokyo Joe (1949)

by Stuart Heisler

IMDb Rating: 6.3

In this engaging drama, Joe Barrett, played by Humphrey Bogart, visits the home of Baron Kimura (Sessue Hayakawa). A subtle yet intriguing scene shows two of Kimura’s associates briefly engrossed in a game of Go.

After the Sunset (2004)

by Brett Ratner 

IMDb Rating: 6.2

This crime comedy, starring Pierce Brosnan, Woody Harrelson, and Salma Hayek, includes a scene where Brosnan and Hayek’s characters engage in a game resembling Go. The portrayal of the game, with its highly stylized board position and stones placed on grid intersections, has led some to speculate the game being played might be Tanbo, a variant more in line with the board setup shown.

Onmyoji 2 (2003)

by Yojiro Takita

IMDb Rating: 6.0

In this sequel, the character Abe no Seimei is shown playing a Shikigami in the guise of his friend Minamoto no Hiromasa, depicted as a monk. This scene creatively integrates traditional Japanese elements with the plot.

The Yakiniku Movie Bulgogi | Purukogi (2007)

by Su-yeon Gu

IMDb Rating: 6.0

In this movie, an old master cook and his friend are shown deeply involved with the game of Go, yet no game is played on screen.

Club Zero (2023)

by Jessica Hausner

IMDb Rating: 5.9

In this internationally acclaimed movie, one of five teenagers, the geeky Ben (played by Samuel D Anderson), is depicted as a Go player.

Duelist | Hyeong-sa (2005)

by Lee Myung-se

IMDb Rating: 5.8

This Korean swordfighting movie features a villain plotting against the government and is shown engaging in the game of Go.

Night Train (2009)

by Brian King

IMDb Rating: 5.7

The film shows Japanese passengers playing Go, with one scene involving a character using the game as a distraction during a tense moment.

Sleeping Beauty (2011)

by Julia Leigh

IMDb Rating: 5.3

A lecture in the film discusses the Kitani-Honinbo Shusai game, referencing Kawabata’s “Master of Go.”

La Femme Dangereuse (1995)

by Gilles Béhat

IMDb Rating: 5.0

This French B-movie focuses on an Asian woman’s violent escapade. During the movie, there’s a scene at approximately 1:10 showing a neglected Go board on the floor with a small 9×9 game incorrectly set up in the background, reflecting the characters’ unfamiliarity with the game.

Balance of Power (1996)

by Rick Bennett

IMDb Rating: 4.7

Rick Bennett’s martial arts film “Balance of Power” features a scene where a stereotypical wealthy Asian antagonist and his fighter associate play Go. The film contrasts Go with chess, suggesting that while chess is for ‘intellectual snobs’, Go is the game of warriors.

Thousand Miles Escort (1977)

by Tsan Hong Tsu

IMDb Rating: 4.6

This wuxia film introduces a pair of Go-playing brothers among its villains, hired assassins targeting the film’s hero and the orphan under his protection.

WarGames: The Dead Code (2008)

by Stuart Gillard

IMDb Rating: 4.5

This sequel to the 1983 “War Games” features scenes where pop-up images of Go games appear amidst a flurry of other online games.

Avatar | Cyber Wars (2004)

by Jian Hong Kuo

IMDb Rating: 4.4

Set in a Matrix-like society governed by a few controlling individuals, this film revolves around maintaining rank and status in “the game” (Weiqi), symbolizing the strategic and manipulative aspects of their world.

Did we catch all the Go-themed movies and shows? If you’ve got more to share, drop them in the comments!

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  1. There’s an episode of Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha, a Korean rom-com that features baduk. The female lead’s father is a student of the game (he’s shown later deep in study) and ends up playing with (and losing to) her future boyfriend.

  2. There are plenty kdramas with scenes playing Go, but The Glory always will be remembered as the one who finally convince me to approach to the game. You can see some here:

  3. There’s a 2 minute bit discussing playing Go on LSD in Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia (Season 3 Episode 6: Timestamp: 30:05-32:09). It shows a game and a bit of discussion of intuition, pattern recognition, and using both Go and LSD to modify thinking.

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