5. The Running Man (1987)
The America of 2017 is a police state that has only one human right: the right to watch television. “Running Man”, a show in which criminals fight for their lives against high-tech gladiators gets the best ratings. Moderator Damon relies on the innocent convicted Knacki Ben (Arnold Schwarzenegger) as a crowd puller but things will start to go in different directions. One publication described “Squid Game” in their review as such: “It’s a show about the cutthroat nature of capitalism, both literally and figuratively. In that sense, it’s a modern play on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1987 dystopian action drama The Running Man.”
The movie itself, while a little outdated, still is a ton of fun. It is a film adaptation of a Stephen King novel and it’s said that King himself was not too satisfied with it. Understandable because unfortunately, the director Paul Michael Glaser put more effort into the action scenes rather than the socially critical aspects of it. It doesn’t really matter though? It has that 80s action film charm that’s truly hard to resist. Edgar Wright is also working on the new adaptation of the novel which might be even better than this. Until that one comes out, you better check out this and have fun with it.
4. As the Gods Will (2014)
Takahata Shun’s school day always starts off as normal and boring, but it doesn’t end that way. After his teacher’s head suddenly explodes, he and his classmates are forced to play children’s games with a fatal stake. Because they have no idea who is behind the deadly gaming session, they only have one chance to survive: they must keep trying to win. At first, you don’t understand what is happening and later, not everything is resolved, but it doesn’t matter because, in the end, you feel totally satisfied by this fast-paced, wild ride!
Takashi Miike is one of the best directors of Japan and he often delivers. This one is not among the exceptions. It could have benefited from better character development but for the rest, it’s an amazing film that is full of gore, humor, and even some social commentary. It is based on the first arc of the eponymous manga series by Muneyuki Kaneshiro and Akeji Fujimura. Just like “Squid Game”, the games and twists are very inventive and involving but how deaths are handled are also among the film’s strengths. The film uses a typical Japanese game show kind of music that fits every game; The acting is mostly over-the-top but it fits with the tone of the film. Overall, it’s just a crazy entertaining film.
3. They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969)
In the 1930s, the United States is shaken by the Great Depression. Everyone looks where they can find some money to survive. Gloria Beatty (Jane Fonda), a cynical malcontent, enrolls in a dance marathon with hundreds of competitors – the winner is awarded $ 1,500 as prize money. Betty starts with a new partner, Robert (Michael Sarrazin), because her actual dance partner was disqualified due to bronchitis before the tournament starts. More the competitions last, we get to know participants better which includes unsuccessful actress Alice (Susannah York), her partner Joel and the young, pregnant Ruby (Bonnie Bedelia). Bleak, ambitious and Academy Award-winning effort from Sydney Pollack is one of the best films of its decade.
In the film, competition is basically a mirror to the society in which victory and defeat are marketed as a show spectacle. To this day, the film holds the record for the most Oscar nominations received by one film without Best Picture being among them with nine nominations. This film is for the ones who’re not looking for entertainment of deathly games but rather see amazingly written characters and the misery which poverty and economic problems can bring.
2. Cube (1997)
Six very different people find themselves in a cube. No one knows where they are or how they got there, and the escape turns out to be difficult because the cube is surrounded by more cubes, some of which represent deadly traps. A police officer Quentin McNeil acts as a leader as the human conflict in the group increases. The search for the why slowly reveals eerily detailed psychological profiles of the characters, while the search for the way out confronts them with decisions that constantly indirectly test their humanity. Unlike many horror films with a similar theme, here the danger is rarely the traps which are why “Cube” stands out from most other films.
It’s not some torture porn full of violence or anything, it’s more of an intellectual exercise. Sure the actors are not necessarily amazing and the film doesn’t have a large budget, but still, it manages to create a unique tension that is driven by the mysteries and clever ideas of a simple Kafkaesque concept. The claustrophobic setting combined with the cube’s nature turns this into some kind of a disturbing experience also. Overall, “Cube” is not a perfect film as you might expect from a film with a very limited budget but it’s one of the most original sci-fi films of the 90s which is worth checking out.
1. Battle Royale (2000)
Well, if you had seen the film, your reaction has to be “Of course!” and if not, then you should definitely check it out. “Battle Royale” was basically a sensation, cultural phenomenon in Japan and it became popular all over the world, with several famous filmmakers like Tarantino citing it as one of the greatest films ever made.
In the future world of this Japanese film, the violence in schools has escalated to such an extent that the Japanese government had to pass the “BR ACT” to curb the nation’s juvenile delinquency. One day, they choose a class to participate in a bloody game. They are deported to a remote island and they have to play the “Battle Royale” game there. The delinquents have three days to massacre each other down to the last man. Only the last man who is still alive in the end will be allowed to go home.
Many members of the Japanese Parliament tried to get the novel it was based on banned but to no avail. Since there were talks about censoring the film also, it only helped the popularity of the movie and it became one of the most acclaimed and popular films of the century. It works on so many levels; it’s a great high-concept, action black comedy for sure but one of the main strengths of the film is that it doesn’t leave you with answers. The last half hour is just excellence in filmmaking and when the movie ends, you’ll end up thinking about the film, start questioning or debating and discussing its themes with your friends. As for the themes, well, they’re many. It’s a film that is just rich in every way possible and if you liked “Squid Game”, you’ll definitely like this.