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Top 10 Movie Battles

VO: Rebecca Brayton
War, what is it good for? Well on the silver screen it's thrilling, epic and nail bitting! These are the movie battles that had us cheer, tremble in terror and feel shock and awe at the scale of the struggle before us. There just isn't anything as captivating as seeing the screen fill with action and countless warriors. Join as we count down our picks for the top 10 memorable movie battles. Criteria: These battles do not include Sci-fi or fantasy, those are battles for their own lists.

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Top 10 Movie Battles

War, what is it good for? Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 memorable movie battles.

Don’t expect any sci-fi or fantasy; those are battles for another day…

#10 – Battle of Mogadishu: “Black Hawk Down” (2001)

Kicking off our list is one example of real life being more thrilling than fiction. This flick reenacts the terrifying 1993 American military operation where Delta Force operators and Army Rangers rope down into Somalia from Black Hawk helicopters in order to secure a local crime lord’s lieutenants. When they are swarmed by militiamen, the mission becomes a pulse-pounding and deadly entanglement that makes us chew our nails every time.

#9 – Battle of Metapontum: “Spartacus” (1960)

Led by Kirk Douglas as Spartacus, slaves launch a massive rebellion against the corrupt Roman Republic in this historical war drama. The freed gladiator-turned-leader marches them towards Italy, where they are welcomed by several battalions of soldiers. A painfully one-sided battle ensues, wherein most are surrounded and butchered. But in its wake, the survivors refuse to betray Spartacus, causing him – and viewers – to burst with emotion.

#8 – Battle in Germania: “Gladiator” (2000)

Borrowing elements from “Spartacus,” this flick features Russell Crowe as a skilled general, who begins the movie leading the Roman army to a swift victory at a Barbarian stronghold. Not only did this Roman-versus-Barbarian battle revive Hollywood’s love of the “sword and sandal” genre, it also provided one helluva fiery archery- and catapult-fuelled spectacle that’s packed with carnage and a kickass motivational speech!

#7 – Battle of Rourke’s Drift: “Zulu” (1964)

While stationed at a field hospital, 150 British soldiers feel the wrath of 4,000 Zulus in this historical 1879 battle. In reality, this remains the greatest example of a British army being defeated by an indigenous and technologically inferior population. Put to film, it’s a harrowing tidal wave of death for Michael Caine and his troops. But incredibly, the Zulus spare some and honor the last men standing.

#6 – Parachute Drop: “A Bridge Too Far” (1977)

Brought to life by an all-star international cast, this iconic piece of cinema shows audiences the Allied Forces’ unsuccessful attempt to end WWII early with a knockout blow. The plan was to break through German lines to seize control of bridges. But, blind ambition and underestimating their enemy proved fatal: even though ten thousand troops are spectacularly dropped from the sky, they are ultimately overpowered and served crippling losses.

#5 – Castle Attack: “Ran” (1985)

Considered the greatest scene ever produced by a Japanese filmmaker, Akira Kurosawa’s battle is universally recognized for its powerful images, use of color, and sweeping musical score. This fantastic onslaught is prompted by the foolish decision of an old lord to empower his sons. Never did he even consider that they’d want the whole caboodle, and would leave him with nothing – not even a blade to commit seppuku.

#4 – Attack on Pearl Harbor: “Tora! Tora! Tora!” (1970)

This depiction is focused on the boldness of the Japanese army when launching their infamous aerial raid on the unsuspecting American naval base. Of the film’s three directors, two were Japanese, and they spared no expense to showcase this battle as the polar opposite of a Titanic-inspired love story starring Ben Affleck.

#3 – Helicopter Attack: “Apocalypse Now” (1979)

What makes this Vietnam War movie’s battle stand apart from the rest is the army’s use of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” over loudspeakers to intimidate the locals and motivate their men. This assault from the sky showcases the horrors of war, as it portrays murder as a sport, and innocents as targets.

#2 – Battle of Stirling: “Braveheart” (1995)

Long before we thought Mel was crazy, he played a fearsome thirteenth century Scottish rebel and warrior who sought vengeance against an English Tyrant by leading the Scots in a war for independence against England. Unlike any other battle we’ve mentioned, this one is all about the face paint, kilts, long swords, axes, brutality, and lack of compassion for the horses.

#1 – Omaha Beach Invasion: “Saving Private Ryan” (1998)

Taking the top spot on our list is this depiction of the real-life D-Day invasion of Normandy by Allied forces on June 6th, 1944. A tragic, narrow and exceptionally flawed military victory, this illustration of the offensive holds nothing back, and does anything but glorify war. Instead, we are given the most chilling depiction of war ever put to film, as Tom Hanks leads his men into a bloodbath unlike any seen in cinema before or since.

Do you agree with our list? Which movie battle scenes captivated or astonished you the most? For more top 10s, be sure to subscribe to

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