Grab your popcorn for this article! We are going to take a look at chess in the movies. Chess fans everywhere have their favorite chess movies. Here are our top seven picks. Make sure to share your favorite chess films in the comments!
This much anticipated 2014 drama \"Pawn Sacrifice\" is based on the story of Bobby Fischer's rise through chess all the way up to the world championship. Actor Tobey Maquire plays the role of Bobby Fischer, while Liev Scheiber plays Soviet World Champion Boris Spassky. The film explores the dark side of Fischer's paranoia. Part of the film visits Fischer's rise through chess as a young kid from Brooklyn, how he became obsessed with the game, and how he pushed to win every game he played. The mental stress Fischer put himself through leading up to winning the world championship is shown to have damaged him, and he disappears from the public into hiding.
Branded to Kill (Japanese: 殺しの烙印, Hepburn: Koroshi no Rakuin) is a 1967 Japanese yakuza film directed by Seijun Suzuki and starring Joe Shishido, Koji Nanbara, Annu Mari and Mariko Ogawa. The story follows contract killer Goro Hanada as he is recruited by a mysterious woman named Misako for a seemingly impossible mission. When the mission fails, he is hunted by the phantom Number One Killer, whose methods threaten his life and sanity.
Branded to Kill was designated by its production company and distributor, Nikkatsu, as a low-budget B movie. Dissatisfied with the original script, the studio called in Suzuki to rewrite and direct the film shortly prior to the start of production. Suzuki came up with many of his ideas for the project the night before or on the set while filming, and welcomed ideas from his colleagues; the screenplay is credited to Hachiro Guryu, a writing collective that consisted of Suzuki and seven other writers, including his frequent collaborators Takeo Kimura and Atsushi Yamatoya. Suzuki gave the film a satirical, anarchic and visually eclectic bent, which the studio had previously warned him away from. The brief turnaround Suzuki was given to make Branded to Kill meant that post-production on the film was completed only a day before its pre-scheduled release on June 15, 1967.
The initial critical and commercial failure of Branded to Kill prompted Nikkatsu to ostensibly fire Suzuki for making \"movies that make no sense and no money\". In response, Suzuki successfully sued Nikkatsu, and garnered support from student groups, like-minded filmmakers and the general public, causing a major controversy throughout the Japanese film industry. Suzuki was blacklisted and did not make another feature film for a decade, but became a countercultural icon.
By the 1980s, Branded to Kill had gained a strong international cult following; film critics and enthusiasts now regard it as an absurdist masterpiece. It has been cited as an influence by filmmakers such as Jim Jarmusch, John Woo, Park Chan-wook and Quentin Tarantino, Nicolas Winding Refn, and composer John Zorn. Branded to Kill inspired a loose 1973 Roman Porno remake directed by Yamatoya, Trapped in Lust [ja], and a loose 2001 sequel, Pistol Opera, directed by Suzuki for Nikkatsu. The company has also hosted two major retrospectives spotlighting his career.
Driving their client towards his destination, Hanada spots an ambush and dispatches several gunmen. Panicking, Kasuga attacks one of the ambushers, Koh, the fourth-ranked hitman, resulting in both of their deaths. Hanada leaves the client to secure Koh's car but hears three gunshots. Rushing back, he finds the client safe, while three additional ambushers have been shot through their foreheads. At another ambush, Hanada kills more gunmen and sets Sakura, the second-ranked hitman, on fire; the client shoots Sakura dead. On his way home, Hanada's car breaks down. Misako, a mysterious woman with a deathwish, gives him a ride. At home, Hanada has rough sex with Mami, fuelled by his fetish for smelling boiling rice.
Reunited, Hanada and Misako alternate between failed attempts by him to seduce her and them to kill each other; she succumbs to his advances when he promises to kill her. Afterwards, Handa realizes he loves Misako and is unable to kill her. Confused, he wanders the streets and passes out. The next day, he finds Mami at Yabuhara's club. She tries to seduce him, then fakes hysteria and tells him Yabuhara paid her to kill him and that the three men he had killed had stolen from Yabuhara's diamond smuggling operation, and the foreigner was an investigator sent by the supplier. Unmoved, Hanada kills her, gets drunk and waits for Yabuhara to return. Yabuhara arrives already dead with a bullet through his forehead.
Hanada returns to Misako's apartment, where a projected film shows her bound and tortured, and directs him to a breakwater, where he will be killed the following day. Hanada submits to the demand, but kills the assassins instead. The former client arrives, revealing himself to be the legendary Number One Killer. He intends to kill Hanada but, in thanks for his work, allows him a truce. As Handa holes up in Misako's apartment, Number One taunts him with threatening phone calls and forbids him to leave the apartment. Eventually, Number One moves in with the now-exhausted Hanada under the pretext that he is deciding how to kill him. They set times to eat, sleep and, later, to link arms everywhere they go. Number One suggests they eat out one day, but disappears during the meal.
At the apartment, Hanada finds a note and another film from Number One, stating he will be waiting at a gymnasium with Misako. Hanada arrives at the gym, but Number One does not show. As Hanada prepares to leave, a tape recording explains that Number One exhausts his targets before killing them. Tying a headband across his forehead, Hanada climbs into a boxing ring. Number One appears and shoots him. The headband stops the bullet and Hanada returns fire; Number One manages to shoot him several times before dying. As Hanada triumphantly declares himself the new Number One, Misako enters the gym. Hanada instinctively shoots her dead, again declares himself Number One, then falls out of the ring.
Nikkatsu conceived Branded to Kill as a low-budget hitman film, a subgenre of the studio's yakuza-oriented movies. Their standard B movie shooting schedule was applied, one week for pre-production, 25 days to shoot and three days for post-production. The budget was set at approximately 20 million yen. Shortly before filming began, with the release date already set, the script was deemed \"inappropriate\" by the head office and contract director Seijun Suzuki was brought in to do a rewrite. Studio head Kyūsaku Hori told Suzuki he had had to read it twice before he understood it. Suzuki suggested they drop the script but was ordered to proceed. The rewrite was done with his frequent collaborator Takeo Kimura and six assistant directors, including Atsushi Yamatoya (who also played Killer Number Four). The eight men had worked under the joint pen name Hachiro Guryu (\"Group of Eight\") since the mid-1960s. Nikkatsu was building leading man Joe Shishido into a star and assigned him to the film. They specified that the script was to be written with this aim. The film also marks Shishido's first nude scene. Suzuki originally wanted Kiwako Taichi, a new talent from the famous theatre troupe Bungakuza, for the female lead but she took a part in another film. Instead, Suzuki selected Annu Mari, another new actress who had been working in Nikkatsu's music halls. In casting the role of Hanada's wife, Suzuki selected Mariko Ogawa from outside of the studio as none of the contract actresses would do nude scenes.
Suzuki did not use storyboards and disliked pre-planning. He preferred to come up with ideas either the night before or on the set as he felt that the only person who should know what is going to happen is the director. He also felt that it was sudden inspiration that made the picture. An example is the addition of the Number Three Killer's rice-sniffing habit. Suzuki explained that he wanted to present a quintessentially \"Japanese\" killer, \"If he were Italian, he'd get turned on by macaroni, right\" Suzuki has commended Shishido on his similar drive to make the action scenes as physical and interesting as possible. In directing his actors, Suzuki let them play their roles as they saw fit and only intervened when they went \"off track\". For nude scenes the actors wore maebari, or adhesive strips, over their genitals in accordance with censorship practices. The film was edited in one day, a task made easy by Suzuki's method of shooting only the necessary footage. He had picked up the habit during his years working as an assistant director for Shochiku when film stock remained sparse after the war. Post-production was completed on June 14, 1967, the day before the film was released.
Like many of its yakuza film contemporaries, Branded to Kill shows the influence of the James Bond films and film noir, though the film's conventional genre basis was combined with satire, kabuki stylistics and a pop art aesthetic. It was further set apart from its peers, and Seijun Suzuki's previous films, through its gothic sensibilities, unusual atonal score and what artist and academic Philip Brophy called a \"heightened otherness\". The result has been alternately ascribed as a work of surrealism, absurdism, the avant garde and included in the Japanese New Wave movement, though not through any stated intention of its director. Suzuki employed a wide variety of techniques and claimed his singular focus was to make the film as entertaining as possible.
The film industry is a subject of satire as well. For example, Japanese censorship often involved masking prohibited sections of the screen. Here Suzuki preemptively masked his own compositions but animated them and incorporated