Like Squid Game? You Bet Your Life!

Once Squid Game became hugely popular, people started coming out of the dark corners of the web, screaming how it is not a unique format of a drama. I’m sitting here in the US and the closest thing we had was Hunger Games… which was inspired by Battle Royale. According to my source, even Luck was tentatively inspired by Hollywood film The Condemned. Or Maybe you remember titles like The Running Man or Hard Target. Either way, Death Games in their various forms have always caught our attention and every generation has their own. I wanted to spotlight some of the few I personally have seen from around Asia.

This link has all the ones MDL has tagged “Death Game“. I will only list the ones I have seen.  As always I will include my rating and MDL’s rating for comparison.

Some of these are more survival than games, and I will note that in their reviews.


Battle Royale 2003

Game of Death 
My Rating:  6.5/10
MDL Ratings: 7.2/10 from 120 users 
Hong Kong:  This is more survival than game but it does feel like Street Fighter or Mortal Combat, as he has to fight a different person on each level to reach the top. This movie has a disjointed storyline as it was the movie Bruce Lee died on. They cobbled together what footage they had into a slightly cohesive movie. It is a must-see if you are fan of Martial Arts movies or Mr. Lee himself.

Battle Royale 
My Rating:  7.5/10

Ratings: 7.9/10 from 7,915 users 

Battle Royale II: Requiem 

My Rating:  7/10
Ratings: 6.5/10 from 2,315 users

Japan:  I feel this too is more survival than Game. It was the inspiration for Hunger Games. These kids suddenly find themselves armed and sent out to kill everyone they see. Or die. It is televised and monitored by adults. The story can be read into to reflect the plight of young people and how they feel. Or you can just enjoy the carnage.  

Liar Game 

My Rating:  10/10

MDL Ratings: 8.3/10 from 9,101 users

Liar Game 2 

My Rating:  9.5/10

Ratings: 8.4/10 from 6,103 users

Liar Game X 

My Rating:  7/10

MDL Ratings: 7.5/10 from 420 users

Liar Game: The Final Stage 

My Rating:  8/10

MDL Ratings: 8.4/10 from 4,110 users

Liar Game: Reborn 

MY Rating:  4.5/10

MDL Ratings: 7.5/10 from 1,541 users

Japan:  This was my first Death/Debt Game I watched. The consequence isn’t death but being sold into servitude to repay your debt. “Stupidly Honest Nao” gets tricked into signing up to play the game. Luckily she partners up with the very smart and smexy hot Akiyama who just got out of jail. Nao really got on my nerves in the beginning, then slowly grew on me. Same with the very loud Frenemy they acquire over the course of the 4 dramas/specials.
Liar Game X is 22 minutes long and just shows how Akiyama gets to the Island for The Final Stage. It is not needed, but it was still a fun watch.
Liar Game: Reborn only has Akiyama, and falls short of the hype and expectations from the first run.


My Rating:  8/10

MDL Ratings: 7.6/10 from 1,051 users

Kaiji 2 
My Rating:  7.5/10

MDL Ratings: 7.5/10 from 540 users

Kaiji: Final Game 
My Rating:  6.5/10

MDL Ratings: 7.0/10 from 104 users

Japan:  Follow the harrowing journey of one man who owed a ridiculous amount of money to a loan shark.  Failed to pay and is sold into slavery. He gambles his life to get back out. The first 2 were very entertaining and well-thought-out and you wanted Kaiji to win, always by the skin of his teeth. The final fell flat for me at least. It is very similar to the final episode of Liar Game in theme.

The Incite Mill 

My Rating:  7/10
MDL Ratings: 7.3/10 from 647 users 

Japan:  More of a trapped mystery with personality lessons. But hey, they are getting paid an outrageous amount by the hour. So who cares. I would not say this is boring, but it fell flat in the excitement department and I am having trouble remembering any details. One of the death scenes shocked me but I will be honest: all I remember is that it shocked me, not why or what the scene was.

Death Tube 

My Rating:  6/10
Ratings: 6.0/10 from 102 users

Japan:  This is a very low-budget horror film that asks the questions about live-streaming a death game over a platform like YouTube. (I don’t know much about the deep dark web, it may have already been done). The games are different from the normal set-up and OFC we have the first of our weird mascots. So if you wanna see honey bear off people with a 9mm. It might be the drama for you.


My Rating:  9/10

Ratings: 7.8/10 from 2,871 users 

Gantz: Perfect Answer 
My Rating:  8.5/10

Ratings: 7.9/10 from 2,090 users

Japan:  This set of movies is based on a manga/anime, and supposes what would happen if the MC died and an alien made the MC fight his battle for him. This is your only chance, if you die this time it’s over for real. The prize is to bring back to life anyone on the list… or yourself. The alien gives no instructions other than in text and is very sparse with those.  I rated high because of my love for Nino in a shiny black catsuit.

BKO: Bangkok Knockout 

My Rating:  8/10
Ratings: 7.3/10 from 38 users

Thailand:  This was closer to Game of Death than any of the others on this list. Very Martial Arts heavy, but they cannot escape until they survive all the trials. Who will triumph? Not much to say about plot or acting because like most action heavy movies that’s not what we are there for.

Mirai Nikki 

My Rating:  7.5/10
MDL Ratings: 7.4/10 from 1,907 users

Japan:  Mirai Niki is based on the manga/anime and involves going to other universes – the winner becomes god. The movie supposes you are familiar with the franchise and this is just Another World. Things you need to know if you are not familiar with the franchise and decide to watch the movie: The female lead is in love with the male lead, who firmly believes that she has to kill him to save him. She is also unhealthily obsessed with the male lead. There is a game in there involving a phone, but that’s the least interesting part of this Universe, just the excuse to get the people together.

As the Gods Will 
My Rating:  7.5/10
MDL Ratings: 7.5/10 from 3,163 users
Japan:  This gets props for originality and decent CGI. The ending was… interesting? But it feels like there needs to be more. The acting was okay for the genre we are talking about, and the blood starts within the first 15 minutes of the movie with the game Daruma-san ga koronda which is their version of “Red light – Green light” but get progressively more intense as the games unfold.

Me & 23 Slaves 

My Rating:  8/10
Ratings: 6.8/10 from 404 users

Japan:  This movie has our main leads in a game that forces the losers of the games to listen to the orders of the winner, or effectively become their “slave”. There is a chip implanted that makes them behave that way. Each game helps them go deeper into the system. Which group has the smartest leader? Kinda low-budget as most sci-fi movies are, but Hongo Kanata knocked it out of the park with his performance.


My Rating:  6.5/10
Ratings: 7.7/10 from 220 users

Akagi 2 

My Rating:  7/10
Ratings: 7.8/10 from 46 users

Japan:  Death Mahjong – two words I never thought I would type together. Akagi never does anything half way, and always puts his life on the line for anything he does. So the Mahjong parts of this I found very sleep inducing, while a feeds friend loved it! The rest of the drama, the talking outsmarting and the reveals, were very well done and thought-provoking.  

Die Now 

My Rating:  8/10
Ratings: 8.0/10 from 530 users

China:  Virtual world within a virtual world, so many layers of v-worlds it makes me wonder how many servers there are and… OMG, The Matrix! Ok, sorry for my weird train of thoughts. This one isn’t about money but about a missing girlfriend. ML is promised to be able to find her if he wins these games. Typical learning themes of the human psyche.

Tomodachi Game 
MyRating:  7/10

Ratings: 7.4/10 from 451 users 

Friends Games: The Movie 

My Rating:  7/10

Ratings: 7.5/10 from 299 users 

Friends Games: The Movie Final 
MyRating:  0/10

Ratings: 7.5/10 from 223 users

Japan:  A group of High School students get involved in a debt game. This is the most psychological of all the titles listed in the article. To move on in the game (whatever they are playing at the time) the participants have to reveal the secrets and knowledge they have of their friends. The game starts out very tame and gets more and more intrusive as they progress.

Zero: Ikkaku Senkin Game 
My Rating:  7/10

MDL Ratings: 7.5/10 from 183 users

Japan:  Typical format, contestants die if they lose, win lotsa yen if they win. By this point, the format had become cliché, so games were definitely different and the performance of Tegoshi Yuya as a complete nutjob brightened the title, giving it something to stand out from the others. This is also where I discovered Mamiya Shotaro.  

Anata no Ban Desu 

My Rating:  7/10

Ratings: 8.0/10 from 747 users 

Anata no Ban Desu – Counterattack 
My Rating:  7/10

Ratings: 7.9/10 from 519 users

Anata no Ban Desu Special 
My Rating:  7/10

Ratings: 7.7/10 from 199 users

Japan:  This is on the “Death Game” tag list, but there was no game so this perplexes me. This proposes the perfect plan for murder, having someone who has no connection to the murdered do the killing. This was proposed at the building residents meeting. The story then begins to add more and more layers, like a mad baker trying to bake the worlds tallest cake. It got too much for me, but when it was airing the feeds were in love with it.

Imawa no Kuni no Alice 

My Rating:  9.5/10

MDL Ratings: 8.8/10 from 19,897 users

Japan:  So as you can see by this time it wasn’t going to surprise me. Or so I thought. Instead of money, it is a true survival game. They have no idea why they are here, they only know they have to play to live. Tentative bonds between strangers with a common goal form as they try to figure out what happened to them and who is running the games. I loved the spin on the motivation.

Squid Game 

My Rating:  8/10

MDL Ratings: 8.6/10 from 24,682 users

South Korea:  Back to greed being the motivation to off your fellow human beings.  Hey, not going to lie if I was offered 100 million Us dollars I might off a few scumbags to get it. But alas my athletic skills are poor so I would die before reaching the end. Bye bye, 100 million. So this one actually has a PLOT and makes you care about the people… Closer to liar game than the rest as it tells the background of MOST of the MC’s. The reveal at the end was obvious.  I will watch season 2.

While this format is not unique, it is still entertaining and is usually a vehicle to show the dark side of humanity when the convenience of society and its unspoken rules are stripped away. A human being will do anything to survive, even the unthinkable. Sometimes we forget that, and need to be reminded now again, it is instinct to live.

Or you can just be entertained by that one guy that finally gets what he deserves in the end. Just sayin’.

So which of these have you seen? Which of these have you added to your ptw? What are your thoughts? Talk to me and don’t forget to heart this article and show me some love : )

Edited by: Tine (1st editor)

as the gods will
game of death
battle royale
alice in borderland
squid game
death game
liar game
incite mill
death tube
bko:bangkok knockout
mirai niki
me & 23 slaves
die now
tomodachi game
friends game
zero: ikkaku senkin game
anata ban no desu

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