When you go to the video store there are the standard movie genres, romance, comedy, action, etc, etc. But when you delve deeper you see the real niche films. One of my favourite genres of film is Sci-Fi / post but I’m a movie slut and I like to give all genres from generic to mini some loving.
Mini-genres are so specific that there is only a handful in existence. One I’ve focused on for this list is the Modern Gladiator Reality TV i.e. a modern gladiator movie where contestants try and kill each other on live TV for whatever reasons. While I’m sure some writers independently came up with the idea themselves, the first instance I can find is La decima vittima (ENG: Tenth Victim) (1965) which was based on a short story “The Seventh Victim” by Robert Sheckly.
Often in this genre to make the movie more justifiable and believable to an audience it takes place in some sort of prison atmosphere. Where of course the protagonist is always an innocent man fighting for his freedom (which is a common prison movie formula). This is the case for a number of flicks including:
Death Race (2008) : Prisoners are forced to race in a no-holds bared crash derby where they end up killing each other for a large pay per view audience.
The Condemned (2007) : One of the new WWE movies with Steve Austion, again an innocent man, fighting other prisoners in an illegal to the death pay per view match.
The Running Man (1987) : A classic Arnold plays a wrongly convicted man in a game show were contestants fight to the death for a chance at freedom.
Gamer (2009) : Convicted criminals are controlled like puppets by online video gamers where they fight in large online battles, think Halo or Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six but with real people. Caution:Fast moving camera action may cause seizures.
A number of movies of this sort skip the prison subplot including:
Series 7: The Contenders (2001) : Contestants are chosen by the American government to play in a kill or be killed game in the style of Reality TV shows like, The Amazing race
La decima vittima (1965) : Italian movie about groups of hunters and hunted that set out to kill or evade being killed.
Death Race 2000 (1975) : The original of Death race 2008 with a young David Caradine playing an S&M dressed character named Frankenstein and a very young Sylvester Stallone battling it out on the nations’ highways in Mad Max cars.
C’est arrivé près de chez vous (1992) : (Eng:Man bites dog) Technical addition to this genre as the action isn’t broadcast to an audience but filmed as a mockumentry.
A key requirement to be included on this list of Modern Gladiator Reality TV while a movie could be considered a gladiator film the fighting in the film isn’t broadcast to a larger viewing public. i.e. :
Fortress (1993),Fortress 2: Re-entry, No Escape (1994), Escape from New York (1981), Avenging Force (1986), Escape from L.A. (1996) or the legendary Gymkata (1985).
Japan of course had a number of these films but again in the movie they aren’t broadcast to the public:
Batoru rowaiaru (2000) (ENG: Battle Royal) : Grade 9 students are dropped on an island where they are forced by the Japanese government to kill each other.
Royal Battle 2 (2005) : Same plot as the first but with extra gore.
Ikigami (2008) : To teach its citizens the value of life the Japanese government creates the, “Prosperity Law”, where 1 in 1000 citizens aged 18~24 will be killed remotely at predetermined time.