Go is an abstract strategy board game that was invented more than 2500 years ago in China. It is played between two players whose goal is to surround more territory than their opponent. You might think there haven’t been many movies and tv shows about this game but in fact, it is a pretty interesting topic among cinematographers, as well. In this list, we bring you the 10 best movies and TV shows about Go.
The Surrounding Game (2018)
What it’s about: This interesting documentary gives us an insight into the intriguing game of Go which is the oldest game still played in its oldest form. But it is still pretty unknown to the West population and this is the first time that a small group of Americans enters their secretive competition, with the ultimate goal of making the game mainstream.
Why you should watch it: This is maybe the best way to get acquainted with this remarkable and extremely complex game. You will learn a lot about it, its rules, and its competitors and be drawn into this world of obsession with patterns and their meaning.
The Go Masters (1982)
What it’s about: This history war drama tells the story of a Japanese Go master and his Chinese rival who meet in China to play a game of Go, ten years before the start of World War II in Asia. Japanese master realizes that the Chinese’s son is the most skilled player of Go there and convinces him to bring him to Japan so he can train him in the game. As the year pass, the situation in China and his private life and decisions will change the lives of his and his trainer’s families.
Why you should watch it: This is a good movie that will bring you closer to the game of Go, while learning more about the relations between China and Japan before and during World War II. It is not breathtaking or revolutionary but it is an interesting story, especially for the fans of this intriguing game.
What it’s about: This sports documentary talks about the revolutionary move Google made with the ancient game of Go. Their DeepMind has developed a program for playing the game using Artificial Intelligence. They will test the program on the European championship and then on a seven-day long tournament in Seoul.
Why you should watch it: This is a remarkable documentary that will interest you from the first minute, giving you insight and the bigger picture behind the game of Go. It shows why AlphaGo is such a revolutionary program and shows what AI can represent in the future.
Tenchi Meisatsu (2012)
What it’s about: This biography drama introduces us to Yasui Santetsu, a 17 century go master, and chronicles his life from his childhood to. But the most interesting thing here is that he didn’t proceed with his career as a go player but turned to astronomy and created a new calendar for Japan.
Why you should watch it: If you are interested in a biographical drama that will give you many details about the change of Japanese calendars at the time, this movie is a secure choice for you. It is gripping and interesting, with very good performances and an interesting story.
The Go Master (2006)
What it’s about: This drama tells the story of Wu Qing Yuan, better known by his Japanese name Go Seigen. He is considered the best Go player of the 20th century. He moved from his native China to Japan as a teenager where he was trained in Go. This movie brings us his story which is not particular only due to his excellent Go skills but also the way he was trying to be accepted as a Chinese man in Japan during a very turbulent historical period.
Why you should watch it: This is a wonderful hommage to an outstanding man who was a master in his profession and it is a delight watching the movie, witnessing the true talent of a man who managed not only to be the best but to be the best in a foreign country, one that was at war with his native one.
Tokyo Newcomer (2012)
What it’s about: This slow drama brings us the story of the experience and challenges of a young Chinese go champion who lives and plays in Japan.
Why you should watch it: This is a warm, slow-paced drama about a man who is trying to get accustomed to a new country and its tradition and culture. You will probably like it if you are interested in Go in general and don’t expect a story full of action and suspense, but a psychological portrait of an individual.
The Divine Move (2014)
What it’s about: This is the story of a professional Go player Tae-seok who gets framed for the murder of his own brother after losing an important game. Determined to get revenge, he gets out after seven years and infiltrates his opponent’s inner circle where he slowly starts eliminating his men one by one. The final game will decide the fate of these two men.
Why you should watch it: If you want to get deeper into the game of Go, written by someone who really enjoys it, then this crime movie is a must-see. It brilliantly depicts the purpose of the game and it is constantly keeping you on the edge of your seat.
The Divine Move 2 (2019)
What it’s about: Set in South Korea, just like its prequel from 2014, this action movie concentrates on Gui-su who loses everything because of his father’s gambling problems. Without any perspective or goal in his life, he meets a mentor and Go teacher who trains him into becoming the grandmaster of this complicated game. He decides to get even for all the troubles in his life but soon starts being chased by another loner in search of his own revenge.
Why you should watch it: If you enjoyed The Divine Move you will probably want to see what is going to happen in this one, as well. Don’t expect a similar movie, since this is not as original as the first part but it is still an interesting watch dedicated to Go, showing its popularity in South Korea.
Hikaru no go (2001 – 2003)
What it’s about: This animated sports fantasy introduces us to a sixth grader named Hikaru Shindo who awakens the spirit of a deceased Go master Fujiwara no Sai who will be of great help to him on his way to developing his Go skills.
Why you should watch it: This is a beautiful anime about teenagers inside the intriguing world of Go. It has a great soundtrack and it functions perfectly without any special effects.
Qi Hun (2020 – )
What it’s about: This TV series centers on Xiao Guang who discovers an ancient Go board and meets Chu Ying who introduces him to the game under his influence, Xiao decides to become a professional Go player.
Why you should watch it: This is a very good drama series, with excellent character development and brilliant casting. It has a strong message and will make the viewers question and think of many of their life choices.