Keywords: Culture & History

The following movies make a reference to the game of Go.

Table of contents

Before 1960

1942 - There Was a Father (Chichi Ariki) by Yasujiro Ozu - [ext] Imdb entry
At the beginning, the main character, a teacher played by Chishu Ryu, plays go with a friend. Later on, the same character meets that same friend he hadn't seen for 20 years while playing in a Tokyo go club.
1949 - Tokyo Joe by Stuart Heisler - [ext] Imdb entry
The first time Joe Barrett (Humphrey Bogart) is visiting Baron Kimura's (Sessue Hayakawa) home, two of Kimura's "business associates" can be seen playing a game for a couple of seconds.
1951 - Early Summer (Bakushû) by Yasujiro Ozu - [ext] Imdb entry
Twice in the movie, we can see a doctor (Chishu Ryu) playing Go with a friend. We can't see the games, but we can hear them talking about a seki.
1954 - Godzilla by Ishirô Honda - [ext] Imdb entry
a few seconds of a Go scene somewhere in the first five minutes.
1957 - Heaven Knows Mr. Allison by John Huston - [ext] Imdb entry
Deborah Kerr plays a proper, devoted, caring nun and Robert Mitchum plays an unsophisticated, uneducated, somewhat crude, but kind-hearted Marine. They end up stranded together on an island overrun by the Japanese during World War 2. Trying to steal food, Mitchum is forced to wait through a game of Go. Great!
1958 - Black Mansion Cat (Borei kaibyo yashiki) by Nobuo Nakagawa - [ext] Imdb entry
In this japanese horror movie, the ghost of a cat-woman is haunting a house because long ago, during the Edo period, a Go master was murdered there. This Go master was killed by a lord to whom he refused to lose on purpose. After he plays a few severe moves which the lord asks him to take back, which he refuses, he is brutally murdered and falls dead on the goban, spilling blood on it (which reminded be of the haunted goban stained with blood in Hikaru no Go - seems to come from old japanese ghost stories). The lord is then haunted by the ghost of the Go master (some Go stones stained with blood fall from the ceiling of his room onto his goban). The Go master is mentionned as a Meijin.

1960 - 1969

1962 - Hatari! by Howard Hawks - [ext] Imdb entry
which some might believe could be related to Go (especially with title uttered in my French accent). Interestingly, "hatari" means "danger" in Swahili, so a protolinguistic connection with Japanese (see also [ext] ilanpi
1962 - An Autumn Afternoon (Sanma no Aji) by Yasujiro Ozu - [ext] Imdb entry
Another film by Ozu in which a couple of Go games are played. Because of Ozu's famous "tatami-camera" style, the games cannot be seen, though.
See [ext] snapshots
1962 - Sanjuro (Tsubaki Sanjûrô) by Akira Kurosawa - [ext] Imdb entry
The main character, Sanjuro (Toshirô Mifune), can be seen a few times standing or resting near a goban. I think that goban is more than a piece of furniture, since the whole sequence is dealing with strategy in a local war between clans. I guess Sanjuro is resting near a goban in order to focus on the fact that he can be seen as a "strategy master".
See [ext] snapshots
1964 - Kwaidan (Kaidan) by Masaki Kobayashi - [ext] Imdb entry
In this the first of the four distinct stories of this famous japanese ghost film, a lord's wife leaves the go game she was playing, saying that she's getting bored of always playing the same game (in fact she seems to be bored by her whole life).
See [ext] snapshots

1970 - 1979

1970 - Zatoichi Goes to the Fire Festival (Zatôichi abare-himatsuri) by Kenji Misumi - [ext] Imdb entry
21st entry in the Zatôichi series in which the famous blind swordsman plays a Go game against a yakuza boss which is also blind.
Source (in french) : [ext] dvdclassik (with a snapshot of the game)
1976 - Thousand Miles Escort directed by Tsan Hong Tsu
wuxia film which features, among other villains, a pair of go-playing brothers who are hired to kill the protagonist and the orphan he protects.

1980 - 1989

1982 - Mikan no Taikyoku ("The Go Masters")
by Ji-shun Duan, starring Sun Dao-Lin
1983 – Le Faucon (The Hawk) by Paul Boujenah – [ext] Imdb entry
In the opening sequence of this French thriller, the main character drops his gun on a goban, disrupting the game layed out, probably suggesting he studied a game the previous evening.
1984 - Dangerous Moves (Foreign film Academy award winner)
The incumbent chess champion is shown playing Go between match games.
1986 – Star Crystal[ext] Imdb entry
This is just a ridiculous low budget movie, that only fans of genre can enjoy. Anyway, almost at the end we can see an interesting glass goban. The game played is gomoku though, not Go. [ext]
1988 - 残酷大浩劫 (Hei tai yang 731 xu ji zhi sha ren gong chang)
C.S. Graves: Go equipment appears in a few scenes of the T.F. Mous film Hei Tai Yang 731: Man Behind the Sun (aka Men Behind the Sun). There is a goban on the floor of the geisha house General Ishii visits. A shattered ceramic bowl filled with Go stones inspires his "low temperature pottery bomb". Later, in a dinner scene, Ishikawa and the medical painter are playing go before debating the morality of their squadron's experiments on the Chinese people, or "maruta" as they were often called.
1989 - Heathers by Michael Lehmann [ext] Imdb entry
a goban is seen in Wynona Rider's character's bedroom.

1990 - 1999

1990 - Come See the Paradise by Alan Parker [ext] Imdb entry
Starring Dennis Quaid and Tamlyn Tomita (Karate Kid II). Men seen playing Go in club setting, and again later goban and bowls seen in internment camp.
1991 - Ranma ½ The Movie, Big Trouble in Nekonron, China by Shuji Iuchi - [ext] Imdb entry
This anime feature showcases, among a number of other villains, a set of go-playing twins whose moves on the goban are mimicked on a gigantic board with colossal stones falling from the sky. The film's protagonist defeats the twins by simply jumping atop the fallen stones, knowing that they cannot play upon an occupied intersection.
1992 - Pushing Hands (tuī shǒu), Taiwan by Ang Lee - [ext] Imdb entry
Paeivis: The movies seems to have two scenes in which Go game can be noticed. First is a game in the house of the family, between father and son I heard, second is a truly short glimpse in the mist of mahjong games while panning to the Tai Chi lesson led by main character.
1993 - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III by Stuart Gillard - [ext] Imdb entry
Samson: I just noticed the other day that Go is in the movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III. It's very brief. There is a short shot of Splinter sitting with one of the Japanese men that came to the future and there is a goban in front of them. Looks like random pieces though (there are more white pieces on the board then black). Nothing really too big or important, but I found it interesting.
1994 - Fist of Legend (Jing wu ying xiong) by Gordon Chan - [ext] Imdb entry
In this Jet Li's movie, there is a sequence where the ambasador of Japan in Shanghai and a Karate master are playing go.
1995 - La femme dangereuse - [ext] Imdb enty
Crappy French b-movie about some Asian woman in a killing spree. A worn floor goban briefly appears in an indoor scene around 1:10, a small 9x9-alike game has been laid out in a corner in a configuration that doesn't seem to respect the rules, the players obviously (what can you expect from this type of movies) have no idea how to play the game.
1996 - Balance of Power by Rick Bennett - [ext] Imdb entry
lame Billy Blanks martial arts movie where the stereotypical bad asian rich guy played go with the stereotypical bad asian fighter guy. When the stereotypical bad white business guy mentions chess, the bad rich guy says something to the effect that chess is for intellectual snobs while go is for warriors.
1997 - Pi by Darren Aronofsky
The protagonist regularly plays Go with his mentor while they exchange ideas; their game is shown in several scenes. See the article for details
1998 - Restless by Jule Gilfillan [ext] Imdb entry
Catherine Kellner plays Leah. Leah is adrift, restless. Landing in Beijing after a string of flights from failed romances, she falls in with other expatriates. A chance encounter with a young weiqi master she saw on TV leads to... well,let's stop there and not spoil it.
1998 - Great Teacher Onizuka by Masayuki Suzuki
Episode 5, on 13'45'' Fujitomi sensei plays go near the pool during the summer vacation.
1999 - Rurouni Kenshin - Tsuioku Hen by Furuhashi Kazuhiro - [ext] Imdb entry
In one scene, Kogorô Katsura, one of the chief of the samurais that fight against the Bakkufu (Shogun) is playing go with his wife (or geisha ?).

2000 - 2009

2000 - [ext] Double Helix 30 Oct. 2000 Andromeda: Season 1, Episode 5
This episode contain few sequences where Captain Dillan remembers a game of Go played with his first officer and friend, the Nietzchian Rhade. It says explicitly that they play Go, but the patterns seems unnatural for Go, and more, is not regular Go, but three dimensional Go, because there are three glass boards one over another. Weird thing, at one moment there is mentioned the missing stone 5D4, but what 5 or 4 stands for? There are only 3 horizontal levels. (added by Kostel on KGS) Oh man I am proud. This is the second movie I discover and add on this list :)
2000 - [ext] Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (Wo hu cang long)
In the first minutes, Yu Shu Lien and Jen Yu have tea sitting at a go table, putting the cups (sacrilege!) on the table.
2001 - A Beautiful Mind by Ron Howard
2001 - Hikaru no Go by Shin Nishizawa - [ext] Imdb entry
2002 - Hero by Zhang Yimou
See [ext] snapshots
Interestingly, played in the rain, on a large stone monument-like board, with the stones placed in the squares rather than on the intersections. The stones are placed using a spatula-like tool.

Patrick Taylor: Correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't Chinese go of this time (the Warring States Period) have featured the star-point stones? None of the boards in the movie feature them. On the plus side, it appears that there are an equal number of black and white stones on most of the boards shown.

ottomated: It also appears that the boards are too small, by my count they are 8x8(if counting the squares, not the intersections) with a row of smaller squares at each end. Considering the size of the board they must be playing othello and not go, othello boards are generally 8x8, and the small squares at the ends may be for keeping score. Now that I look at the pictures again it can't be othello because the board position would not be legal if it were.

Feylias: ...and, as it happens, Reversi/Othello wasn't invented until 1883. I examined the board and couldn't make sense of it as a Weiqi game, but perhaps it's meant to represent a variant. ...which is a polite way of saying, perhaps the creators were trying to evoke the spirit and aesthetic of go without bothering themselves with ten minutes of research on the internet. ...really, for such a nationalistic movie you think they'd play up the origin of go as Chinese.

cmasc?: According to the snapshots it rather looks like Gomoku (5 in a row).

2002 - When the last sword is drawn by Yojiro Takita - [ext] Imdb entry
The main character plays Go as they converse about the other's impending marriage. See also [ext] this entry in USGO E-journal.
2003 - Onmyoji 2 by Yojiro Takita - [ext] Imdb entry
Abe no Seimei is playing a Shikigami in the form of his friend Minamoto no Hiromasa as a monk.
2004 - After the Sunset by Brett Ratner - [ext] official website - [ext] Imdb entry
A crime comedy starring Pierce Brosnan, Woody Harrelson and Salma Hayek. The film includes a scene where Piers Brosnan and Salma Hayek's characters are playing a game of what appears to be Go. The board position appears highly artificial, although the stones are at least played on the grid intersections. It has been suggested that the game being played was actually Tanbo, for which the board position seen in the film would appear more natural. There is no official word on this.
2004 - The Taste of Tea (Cha no Aji) by Katsuhito Ishii - [ext] Imdb entry
In this very nice japanese film, one of the main characters plays in a highschool go club. Several important scenes are shot in the go club and around go games.
2004 - Avitar (Cyber Wars (USA title)) - [ext] Imdb entry
A Matrix-like society where everything is controlled by a few individuals trying to maintain their rank and status in "the game" (weichi).

2004 - Inuyasha Episode 152 - "Protect and Plunder!"

Two men are seen playing Igo, very short scene though and no reference to the story itself

2005 - Duelist (Hyeong-sa) - Korean Swordfighting movie where the Villain, who conspires against the government, plays go. [ext] Imdb entry
[ext] youtube link
2006 - 棋圣 吴清源 (Kisei Go Seigen) also known as The Go Master ( Wu Qingyuan ) by Tian Zhuangzhuang - [ext] New York Film Festival - [ext] Imdb entry
Film about the life of Go Seigen, based on his autobiography. see also [ext]

gougou?: Anybody has a copy? I searched all sorts of torrents without much luck.
csobod?: Granted, obtaining a copyright work without purchasing it from a distributor is illegal, the film cannot legally be purchased from any reliable distributor. All DVD copies available to the US through online retailers are either illegal copies of the film, or Spanish/South American distributions that contain no English subtitles. As usual, the problem with copyright is that it ensures that once a piece of work falls into obscurity, it cannot be obtained again. In answer to your question, there is only one torrent available online with any seeds, and all seeders have maxed out at 96.3%; the rest of the data is unavailable.

Aidoneus: The Go Master is available at Netflix, both as a DVD rental and streaming.

2006 - The Host (Gwoemul) - Korean Monster movie, like jaws [ext] imdb
Go can be seen about 27 minutes into the movie when the TV is turned on and the channel is changed. -baltimore
The game shown is almost certainly a review of O Meien (white) vs Pak Yeong-hun in the 1st Zhonghuan Cup (JP-Morgan Cup), 18th September 2004.
2007 - The Warlords (Tau Ming Chong) - [ext] imdb
Two old generals are playing Go and using their moves to refer to the fate of General Pang(Jet Li) at the same time
2007 - The Yakiniku Movie Bulgogi (Purukogi) - [ext] Imdb
The old master cook and his friend are constantly playing or pondering the game of Go in the background, without a single move played during the movie.
2008 - War Games
The Dead Code [ext] imdb : A straight to video sequel of the 1983 War Games. When the computer is being bombarded with online games, popups of go games can be seen among games of chess, checkers, etc.

2008 - Honey & Clover (Hachimitsu to Kuroba) in the anime series Honey & Clover, episode 15 at 15 minutes, two charachters (Mayama and Hanamoto) talk while playing go on a rather nice board. The only move that I saw seemed rather odd, and in one snapshot you can count 22 vertical lines on the board.... but nonetheless :)

2009 - The International (Dima) - [ext] Imdb
In a scene in Jonas Skarssen (antagonist) house, he is playing Go with his son. He makes a comment about the strategic depth of the game, precise quote:"This is a game that rewards patience and balance. You must think like a man of action and act like a man of thought". A few moments later, he asks his son "What does one do when there's no way out of a situation" to the reply "...the best thing is to find a way further in". The exchange can be interpreted as part of Go wisdom.
2009 - The Hedgehog (Le hérisson [Movies/LeHérisson]) - [ext] Imdb
There is a short dialogue on the origin and philosophy of Go (approx. 17. minute: protagoniste Paloma Josse - the 11 yr. old girl who wants to commit suicide - corrects a friend of her parents that Go is not originally of Japanese origin and explains the difference to Chess). Another scene shows a match of go including a "full screen" go board (she/Black makes a quite useless connection within a dead group and most of the black stones are dead). Without American 'happy-ending' yet happier than the 'blurb' could suggest.
2009 - Night Train [ext] imdb
A couple of times two Japanese passengers are seen playing Go. In one of those scenes one of the main characters approaches them in order to distract their attention from two other main characters hiding a corpse. He comments on a specific move: "Too close to the edge. You can't attack him effectively and it leaves you weak in your defenses".

2010 and onwards

2010 - Tron Legacy - [ext] Imdb
Quorra explains that Flynn Sr. is teaching her the game. A board is shown for two seconds. (See also [ext] USGO)
2010 - Mr. Nice - [ext] Imdb
The Main character Howard is introduced to the game at a drug party. When the girl showing him the game tells him that "In go the one with the most freedom wins" Howards states "Then it is just like real Life".
2010 - The Man from Nowhere - [ext] Imdb
20 minutes into the movie a shopkeeper is replaying a game from a book.
2010 - 13 Assassins - [ext] WP
around 47' (approx.) into the movie, one samurai refers to playing Go with another samurai.
2011 - Age of the Dragons - [ext] Imdb
A tattered goban is shown for about ten seconds even it is just as decoration of the interior and a target for a fist of an angry character. There is not an actual game played, or a real position. There are some black and white stones scattered on it, not a real position, so we cannot know if they used it for Go or other board game, but the goban is actual size 19X19, not 17 as it was at origins. And we must consider that dragons lived some looong time ago ;). I must notice that the stones are actual irregular pebbles not manufactured ones (posted by Kostel on KGS 4K. I am thrilled by the fact that I am the first to spot this movie and add it here:)
2011 - Tokyo Newcomer (初至東京)- [ext] Imdb
Synopsis: Yoshiryu (Qin Hao), who is considered a Go genius in China, comes to Japan to hone his skills in the game. But he is too busy earning a living to study Go at all. One day, he meets an old woman hawking vegetables, Igarashi (Chieko Baisho), on the train. Actually, Igarashi is a descendant of a prestigious Go family…
???? - The Shogun
BBC drama-documentary about the Samurai general [ext] Tokugawa Ieyasu (Wiki page shows goban too). He overthrew the governing dynasty of Japan and became the Shogun - the supreme military leader - of Japan.
2011 - Sleeping Beauty - [ext] Imdb
A teacher gives a lecture based on the Kitani-Honinbo Shusai game (known from Kawabata's "Master of Go" ).
2012 - Weiqi Wonders - [ext] website
A documentary about Go. The film and its trailer are available for free viewing on YouTube: [ext]
2012 天地明察 (Tenchi Meisatsu) - [ext] Imdb [ext] Trailer
Literally Insight Into the Universe aka Tenchi The Samurai Astronomer. A chronicle of the life of Yasui Santetsu, a 17th century master of go who turned his attention to astronomy and created a new calendar for Japan.
2013 - Orange is the new Black - TV SHOW? - [ext] website
In Se01Ep12?, Larry Bloom (Jason Biggs) is spotted playing Go with Cal Chapman (Michael Chernus) in a trailer out in the woods, as Cal argues with his new fiancee.
2013 - Play More Go - Video clips promoting Go - [ext] website
Promoting Go in a different way than presenting the rules and benefits of playing Go. This is a project from Go players to find more Go players. It was initiated by Sven Walther (Paderborn, Germany), who works as a researcher when not playing Go, and Lars Walther (Düsseldorf, Germany), who is always busy both as a filmmaker and an actor.
2013 - The Stone? - [ext] imdb [ext] website
A young man begins to earn money by playing Go after giving up his dream of becoming a professional. One day, a gang leader with a great interest in the game plays with the young man. Meanwhile, the young man begins to take an interest in the gang business. The unusual mixture of Go and crime weaves an interesting story of a gang boss and a promising young Go player.
2014 - The Divine Move - [ext] Trailer [ext] Wikipedia
A Korean crime/action film about a professional go player who fails to save his brother from a rigged match against a gambling gang. After a stint in prison, the surviving brother and a ragtag band of players plot to beat the gang at their own game and take revenge... From across the go board. Violent, suspenseful, and jam-packed with go. Delightful.
2014 - The Fox and the Wolf. (Teen Wolf S03.Ep21) - [ext] Imdb
At minute 8:30 for about four minutes is a scene where we can see some gobans on tables. One is in foreground. However the position looks quite concentrated and weird. About 15 minutes later there is another scene, and this time we see a realistic Go position. A little later in dialogue we find that the character was playing Go in order to keep better under control her migraines. (I just cannot stop to brag that this is the second Go sequence I find in a movie that was not already presented here :)
2014 - Misaeng - Incomplete Live? [ext] Asian Wiki
About a Go player that failed to become pro struggling to start a new live in a company. [ext] Excerpt of the film (9 min) and [ext] Spanish translation of excerpt
2014 - No Tears for the Dead? [ext] Asian Wiki
An assassination action movie. We can see that assassin is preparing his gun over an old goban. And later he is shooting to goban. Some part of preparing scene can be shown on trailers.
2015 - Reply 1988? - [ext] IMDb
Choi Taek is actually based on the real-life Baduk player, Lee Chang Ho.
2017 - Samurai Gourmet? - [ext] imdb
In the third episode 'Mackerel in the Morning' Takeshi (played by Naoto Takenaka) is playing his friend in a game of go.
2017 - The Surrounding Game - [ext] imdb
A feature-length Documentary about Go! The AGA Pro-Qualification is key to its narrative.
2017 - Columbus? [ext] website
A board appears at 56:45. The main character plays moves, probably a study, but the goban is difficult to see due to reflected light.
2017 Alpha Go Documentary [ext] imdb
A documentary by Greg Kohs on the famous match between AlphaGo LeeSedol. It passed into the [ext] first stage of consideration for its category in the Oscars. See [ext]
2018 - Altered Carbon - [ext] imdb
[ext] rottentomatoes:[ext] trailer: Netflix series of Richard K. Morgan book. In Season #1 Episode #7 about 40 mins in, we find Takeshi Kovacs and Rei (wearing their Japanese / Hungarian sleeves), talking (their) life and death, strategy, while playing Go. The board is paper, stones and bowls appear more traditional. In the following S1 episodes 8, 9, and 10, goban are seen a few times, including a ~3" tall dark wood one in Rei's cabin on the 'head in the clouds' ship where she muses that she always beat Tak in Go.
2019 - Knives Out - [ext] imdb
A murder mystery in which at least 3 characters are casual Go players, and we briefly see Go being played in one scene.
2019 - Hotel Del Luna - [ext] AsianWiki
Korean Drama. In Ep. 15 about 20 min in, the main male Lead Gu Chan Seong challenges the deity Ma Go Sin for a game of Go in exchange for her leaving. Although it looks like a real game, they forgot to take a captured stone from the board.
2019 - Escape Plan 3 - Hades - [ext] WP
American direct-to-video prison action thriller (starring Sylvester Stallone playing White against Russel Wong, they use Yunzi stones, in a scene that stretches a few dialogues around Go). Around 00:12.

2019 - The Divine Move 2 - The Wrathful - [ext] Wikipedia: A Korean film, standalone prequel to The Divine Move (2014). It details the origin of 'The Ghost', a monklike and almost inhuman Go master with a humble background. On the road to defeating a 9 dan pro, the Ghost faces the spectres of his own past, undertaking enormous feats of will, Go skill, and fighting prowess to exact vengeance for his wronged elder sister. Crime/action. (Note: If his nickname sounds familiar, it's because he is the unseen presence in The Divine Move who taught Drinking Christ to play blind... And who played Tae-seok while they occupied adjoining solitary cells in prison.)


See also


  • A History Channel documentary ("The Destroyer", Battle Stations) shows a few seconds of Japanese WW2 submariners playing Go on the floor of an obviously cramped space (approx. 28:29, look for the [ext] Maine Potato incident).


Movies last edited by 2600:1700:fd00:0a90 on September 26, 2023 - 10:49
RecentChanges · StartingPoints · About
Edit page ·Search · Related · Page info · Latest diff
[Welcome to Sensei's Library!]
Search position
Page history
Latest page diff
Partner sites:
Go Teaching Ladder
Login / Prefs
Sensei's Library