Movies like The Hunger Games

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Movies like The Hunger Games are scarce, although those that do meet the criteria could just as easily be called “Films Featuring Tournaments to the Death.” That’s because the 2012 Hunger Games movie–based on the bestselling young-adult novel from Suzanne Collins–revolves around 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) who’s forced to participate in a brutal killing spree where only one competitor out of 24 can survive.

The Hunger Games is just the first novel in the series, and the other two entries are already waiting for you at retailers around the globe. I don’t want to spoil any surprises, but the second book, Catching Fire, deals with another bloody tournament, while Mockingjay wraps up the series with an all-out war. If you like your teen angst mixed with a healthy dose of carnage, don’t hesitate to give these mega-popular novels a try. In fact, I’ll make things real simple for you (just click on the picture below to order).

Hunger Games Books

The boxed set collection of The Hunger Games trilogy.

However, not all movies like The Hunger Games feature teens duelling to the death. In many cases, grown-ups get in on the action, whether by desperation of simply because they have no choice. And while the budding romance between Katniss and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) is a favorite part of the book for some readers, don’t expect all of these motion pictures to make time for a romantic subplot.

If you’d like to add any of the following to your DVD or Blu-ray library, just click on the accompanying pictures to be taken to the appropriate Amazon page. Or, if you prefer to rent, you can find these films and over 100,000 more at Netflix.

Now onto my list of 10 films similar to The Hunger Games:

Battle Royale

Watch Battle Royale and learn the advantages of the Japanese educational system.

Battle Royale (2000) – The plot of this Japanese film comes the closest to The Hunger Games, enough so that some critics have accused Suzanne Collins of drawing liberally from the original source material by author Koshun Takami. Set at the dawn of the new millennium, Battle Royale explores the increasingly hostile generation gap between the citizens of Japan. With unemployment skyrocketing and over 800,000 students refusing to attend school, the government passes the Millennium Educational Reform Act to show who’s boss. This results in a yearly event where an entire class of 9th grade students are abducted, placed on a hidden island, and forced to fight until only one kid remains. Explosive collars around their necks ensure that nobody escapes or spends all their time hiding, and the presence of battle-hardened “transfer students” ups the lethality factor. Takeshi Kitano is excellent as the former teacher who retired about being wounded by a student but now returns to oversee the competition and cheerfully make daily announcements about the dead. The film’s release caused a great deal of controversy in Japan due to the level of violence and the fact that actual teen actors were shooting and slashing each other to death on the screen. If you enjoy the pure craziness of Japanese cinema, this one is a must-see.

Battle Royale 2

I don't know why he looks so surprised. He is in an Asian film, after all.

Battle Royale II: Requiem (2003) – Far inferior to the original, Battle Royale II: Requiem still meets the requirements to be considered one of the movies like The Hunger Games. This time around, an angry collection of previous Battle Royale winners have formed a group known as the Wild Sevens, and they spend most of their time either hiding out on a remote island or engineering terrorist bombings to get back at the government that forced them to kill their childhood pals. Another group of 9th graders are forced into service, but they’re ordered to storm the island and take out the Wild Sevens instead of killing one another. Those pesky explosive collars are still around, too, just in case anyone gets any bright ideas about running away. The initial attack on the island is the highlight of the film, as an alarming number of invading students are shot or blown sky high. After that, there’s a whole lot of meaningless talk, and even the presence of Riki Takeuchi (and his awesome hair) as a sinister schoolteacher can’t salvage this one. Still, fans of the original film will probably feel obligated to see it.

Mean Guns

Never challenge Ice-T to a game of chess.

Mean Guns (1997) – While director Albert Pyun (Cyborg, Nemesis) is far from a critical darling, the man does know how to deliver when it comes to action sequences. That’s never been more obvious than in Mean Guns, a dumb-fun film that takes 100 individuals who’ve wronged a crime syndicate, places them in a not-yet-open-for-business prison, and requires them to kill one another off until only three remain. The survivors will walk away with $10 million in cash, and the Syndicate will get their revenge–as well as some entertainment–in the process. The rules of the game are set down by a Syndicate representative named Vincent Moon (Ice-T), and the participants include such recognizable faces as Christopher Lambert, Thom Mathews, and Deborah Van Valkenburgh. Much of the violence is accompanied by mambo music blaring over the prison’s PA system, and one of the film’s highlights comes early on when the collection of unarmed hitmen and women make a mad dash to obtain the bullets, guns, and baseball bats that have been poured onto the floor. Sure, it’s mindless violence, but sometimes that can be a good thing.

Series 7 The Contenders

Series 7: The Contenders, one of the many movies like The Hunger Games.

Series 7: The Contenders (2001) – Back when reality shows were starting to capture the imagination of the public, director Daniel Minahan released this little-known gem that skewers the entire genre. Presented as the seventh season of a hit reality program, Series 7 sees five contestants selected by a national lottery, given a gun, and forced to participate. Win three contests in a row and you can retire from the game. Otherwise, you’re toast. Contenders for this season include a pregnant woman (and two-time champ), a nurse, an unemployed asbestos remover, an enthusiastic teen, a 72-year-old retiree, and an artist who’s dying of testicular cancer (who also happens to be the former lover of the returning champ). No issue is safe from satire, including America’s gun culture, the obsession with fame, and even the behind-the-scenes manipulations that render “reality” shows nothing more than obnoxious soap operas. A clever and biting movie that never received its due.

Slashers

Slashers (2001) – If you’ve ever seen a Japanese game show, you know they’re delightfully bizarre and often more than a little sadistic. Slashers takes this to a whole new level, as it introduces a hit program where six contestants are trapped in a warehouse and required to survive encounters with a trio of “slashers,” killers who happen to be patterned after the unstoppable madmen from assorted horror flicks (such as Chainsaw Charlie, Preacherman, and Doctor Ripper). The movie is meant to depict one episode of the show, and it just so happens that this special edition features an all-American cast of competitors. Each has their own reason for signing up, whether it’s to become famous, make a political statement, or because they’ve lost the will to live. Director Maurice Devereaux does a fine job of making the show seem real, from one of the killers breaking character when faced with his own mortality to the obsession with getting female contestants to take off their tops. And don’t forget about the disturbingly peppy cheerleaders, the whacked-out theme music, commercial parodies (Coffin Nail cigarettes) and the heaping helpings of gore.

10th Victim

The 10th Victim (1965) – A French/Italian co-production, this bizarre sci-fi film takes place in a future where wars have been replaced by a televised event known as The Big Hunt. Those looking to sate their bloodlust or become famous (or both) participate in 10 rounds of competition, 5 as the predator and 5 as the prey. Survive, and you’ll become rich and famous beyond belief. Fail, and you’ll wind up as nothing more than a beautiful corpse. The film focuses on two competitors, Marcello Polletti (Marcello Mastroianni) and Caroline Meredith (Ursula Andress) and they take shots at one another in-between bouts of lovemaking. Blessed with a decidedly European feel and plenty of trippy costumes, The 10th Victim offers a less gritty form of lethality while ramping up the sex factor. Andress is beautiful as always, while Mastroianni alternates between seasoned killer and lovestruck fool.

Shinobi Heart Under Blade

Shinobi: Heart Under Blade (2005) – If you enjoyed the way that The Hunger Games mixed romance and violence, then you’ll definitely want to give this Japanese film a try. Based on The Kouga Ninja Scrolls, Shinobi: Heart Under Blade deals with two rival ninja clans, the Iga and Kouga, who are forced to fight until only one side remains. Caught at the center of the crisis are Gennosuke (Joe Odagiri) and Oboro (Yukie Nakama), the respective leaders of the clans. It also happens that they’re secretly married, so think of this film like Romeo & Juliet combined with ninjas who can breathe poison, move at super speeds, and even take an opponent out with a single glance. If you find this one to your liking, be sure to give the animated Basilisk series a try. It’s taken from the same source material, and its generous 24 episodes allow for more characterization and mind-blowing ninja combat.

The Tournament

The Tournament (2009) – Take 30 of the world’s most dangerous assassins and psychopaths, install explosive tracking devices under their skin, drop them into an unsuspecting British village, and give them 24 hours to eliminate the competition. The last man (or woman) standing walks away with a fortune, as well as the right to charge one-million dollars per bullet for any future hits. As the contest begins, the wealthy scumbag elite of the planet watch the blood fly and wager fortunes on their favorite competitors. Ving Rhames stars as the winner of the previous event, lured out of retirement by the promise that his wife’s killer is also a participant. There’s also a hot-yet-tormented Chinese agent (Kelly Hu), as well as a deranged Texan (Ian Somerhalder) with an outrageous accent and big shotgun. But the real wild card is Father Joseph Macavoy (Robert Carlyle), a local alcoholic priest who unwittingly drinks a tracking device discarded in a pot of coffee and becomes marked as one of the players.

The Condemned

The Condemned (2007) – “Stone Cold” Steve Austin gets his first starring role in a movie as Jack Conrad, a former member of Delta Force who’s purchased from an El Salvadorian prison by unscrupulous producer Ian Breckel (Robert Mammone). But Conrad isn’t the only item on Breckel’s shopping list, as the slimy fellow has been buying up death row inmates from every corner of the globe. His plan is simple: Assemble 10 lethal convicts (male and female) on an isolated island, strap bombs to their ankles, and then give them 30 hours to kill each other while the world watches on the Internet. While the film never quite lives up to its potential, it does feature plenty of serious-looking individuals skulking around tropical settings with ill intentions. Vinnie Jones co-stars as the lead baddie, a former British operative convicted of executing 17 men and raping 9 women during service in Rwanda. The real highlight may be the inclusion of “You Don’t Know,” an attitude-laden jam concocted by 50 Cent, Eminem, Lloyd Banks and Cashis.

13 Movie

13 (2011) – A remake of the 2005 French film 13 Tzameti, this white-knuckle thriller stars Sam Riley as a young man who’s desperate to pay for his father’s impending surgery. When a golden opportunity presents itself, he steals a mysterious envelope from a dead man and heads across the country towards a potential big payday. But once he arrives, he learns that the lucrative opportunity is actually a form of Russian Roulette, with the number of bullets in each gun increasing with subsequent rounds. As the contestants fight off fear and exhaustion, a gaggle of rich men wager millions on the outcome. Plenty of familiar faces are present, including Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, 50 Cent, and Ray Winstone. If your heart rate manages to stay the same during the tense “gaming” sequences, then you’ve got ice water in your veins. Don’t expect any love connections, though, as this film is almost exclusively populated with the male gender.

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Not all movies like The Hunger Games feature romance and adorable kids named Primrose, but you can rest assured that the action level will be fairly high in each. If you’re an action junkie, he sure to check out these other pulse-pounding articles from Only Good Movies:

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 14th, 2012 at 3:17 pm and is filed under Good Movies, New Movie Releases, Thoughts on Film. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “Movies like The Hunger Games”

Leave a Comment

March 14, 2012

Delilah Pent

Boone? Boone from Lost plays an insane Texan? I have to see The Tournament now. I bet he’s the dreamiest pretty boy of an insane Texan you’ll ever see.

March 22, 2012

Pusser Mumford

Boone? Who the hell liked Boone on Lost? Boone Carlyle was only a little less useless than Charlie, but only because he wasn’t around as long. I’m sure Boone makes a good vampire on the Vampire Diaries, though. Speaking of which…I hope Hunger Games breaks all the records those Twilight movies set. Not sure that it’s any more deserving, but it couldn’t be less deserving…and that’s the bottom line.

March 29, 2012

Jordan

Freak, y do u have 2 hate on tha Twilight trilogies? y don’t u just get over yourself & realize Bella & Edward have deap luv 4 1 another. Don’t know about Vampire Diaries & I don’t know who this Boon is. He’s no Edward, ik. I like this list, b/c I’l watch Battle Royal now.

April 22, 2012

L

I am a huge fan of the Hunger Games as well as the Twilight trilogy. But the last comment was so funny to me that i just HAD to comment. The grammar is really bad and it just makes for a really bad argument for defending the books/movies. It seems like you are very young, probably middle school. It also makes you seem very ignorant, on both your grammar and on giving critical analysis on a film and/or movie.

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