Home Entertainment Top List Thursdays – Top ten battles

Top List Thursdays – Top ten battles

5 min read

A one on one fight between sworn enemies may be the stuff of legend, but pitting entire armies against one another in a clash of ideologies? Now that’s something deserving of the word epic!

We’ve seen plenty of large scale battles on the big screen, as men, women and Ewoks battle one another to reclaim some territory. Here’s ten of the finest.

Anchorman – Battle of the news crews

News crews, assemble! While Myself and the rest of TheMovies gang have found themselves stuck in the middle of a war with CNN, BBC and FOX once before, no one was there to capture that moment.

But in Anchorman, things sure did escalate quickly. Arms severed, grenades revealed, people speared through the chest…And they said that journalism was an easy field.

Braveheart – Battle of Stirling

HOLD! HOOOOOOLD! HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLD! Never before, has one movie scene caused many a person to keep their sphincters so tight in anticipation of a slaughter.

Before he channeled his crazy into the real world, Mel Gibson was on top form here, as he crafted one of the bloodiest battles in cinematic history, and forever cemented the idea that men in skirts were a force to be reckoned with.

Starship Troopers – Battle of Planet P

Heh, P. Starship Troopers is crawling with massive scenes of conflict, and for the majority of them, humans are on the losing side. From the catastrophic landing on Klendathu that left thousands of soldiers deader than my last new years party, to the massive climax that had the Kurgan himself capturing a brain bug, Starship Troopers was heavy on the action.

But out of all those scenes, the battle at the outpost on Planet P showed just how deadly the bugs really were, as they laid a perfect ambush for the human army. Do you want to know more?

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – Battle of Helm’s Deep

It’d be easy to go with the final battle in The Return of the King, but there’s something so much more magnificent about this particular siege from the middle film. Grittier, nastier and more hopeless than the battles that came before, it was a stark reminder as to just how much peril Middle Earth was really in.

Star Wars Return of the Jedi – Battle of Endor

“But Darryn, why would you include this particular battle scene, when you could have used the Geonosis arena battle or the Republic space navy waging war on the Separatists high above Coruscant”, you ask, presumably while shaking an angry fist.

Easy. I’m a horrible person, and I hate Ewoks. So a battle scene between stormtroopers, which they briefly control the momentum of, and has dozens of the little bastards burning to death or being lasered, is a win in my book.

Nub nub that you little brown $@&!s.

Gladiator – Battle of Germania

For a movie based on the struggle of one man against the might of Rome, Gladiator sure did have a magnificent opening battle, as Russell Crowe went head to head with ze Chermans.

As dirty and as gritty as other films before it, the key difference here was in how artfully and cinematically the scenes were shot, as Ridley Scott took full advantage of the technology available to him for it.

And 12 years later, it’s still an absolute masterpiece.

Zulu – Battle of Rorke’s Drift

Let it be known, that no matter how well armed you are, no matter how many trained soldiers you have on your side and no matter how well you can sing a few lyrics, nothing will be more intimidating than an army of Zulus as they ready their minds and bodies to take you down.

It’s essentially the haka of warfare.

Rambo 3 – Battle of Afghanistan

The eighties were known for gratuitous violence and bombastic action, and no other film captured that spirit perfectly than in Rambo 3. A former special forces operative, his commander, a full cavalry of the Mujahideen militia up against everything that the Russian army could throw at them in the middle of the Afghan desert?

A setup like that was already beyond fantastic, but throw in a scene that has Rambo driving a flaming tank into a Russian gunship that ends in a baysplosion, and you’ve got the pinnacle of 80s action, right there.

Saving Private Ryan – Battle of Omaha Beach

While the Hitler Channel on DSTV may be filled with far too much World War 2 content than is actually necessary, until then, no one knew exactly just how bad the struggle to invade Europe actually was.

Enter Steven Spielberg, thousands of extras and more than a few people on the set who had been legitimately amputated in real life, as they brought the full horror of war down on viewers.

Dark, horrible and a stark reminder of what our grandparents fought for back in that day.

Independence Day – Battle of New York

Sure, Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum may have opened the gates for humanity to finally go toe to toe with alien invaders, but it was the rallied forces of armies across the world that really finished the job that they had started.

A blistering aerial battle that saw fighter jets tomahawk UFOs right out of the sky, that defeat for the aliens would have been embarrasing enough if their massive mothership hadn’t been destroyed by an alcoholic kamikaze redneck at the end of the day.

Last Updated: December 6, 2012


  1. The Battle of Wolf 359


  2. Rincethis

    December 6, 2012 at 15:09

    I forget the name of the movie. It was one between good and evil. There is an epic battle at the end that sees the the devil actually appear, and just before he kills the main protag (I think Connar from Terminator) Gods smites the battlefield. Awesome battle though.


    • James Francis

      December 6, 2012 at 18:21

      Damn, I got to find a copy of this… Sounds like everything Legion wasn’t.


      • Rincethis

        December 6, 2012 at 19:58

        do it mate. I was very surprised by it. Nice origin story with brothers against each other. Awesome battle and decent effects. Was also dissapointed in Legion


        • James Francis

          December 7, 2012 at 10:17

          It looks like one of those movies made by evangelist Christians. I can dig that – this may sound strange, but I was disappointed that they didn’t have more budget for the Left Behind films.

          Sheesh, I really am an apocalypse junkie. I’ll watch anything!


          • Rincethis

            December 7, 2012 at 10:23

            Yeah, there was a defo evangelist element to it. But still fun. The bad guy is a total dick 🙂

          • DarthofZA

            December 7, 2012 at 13:09

            Well… I don’t see why Christians would pay for movies like Left Behind to be made when the beliefs the books were based on don’t exactly line up with the Bible, and pretty much 99% of Bible scholars agree that they are way way way off the mark. /UnBiblical Rapture Rant

          • James Francis

            December 7, 2012 at 14:55

            It’s totally Christian. The Biblical accuracy is a matter of which denomination you belong to. So Catholics would not agree at all, but your adventists and evangelicals eat it up like cake. If it’s about two kids who find a gingerbread house, it’s Hansel & Gretel – no matter how the story gets told.

          • DarthofZA

            December 7, 2012 at 16:16

            Not true. The theory of a rapture happening where all the Christians disappear is new as far as church history goes. A vast majority of the Pentecostal or “Happy Clappy” churches don’t believe it at all. You go to Bible college or read Daniel, Matthew, Isaiah and Revelations (the 4 books that touch the end times the most) and a picture very different to a rapture is painted. The theory was only invented in the 1820s, and not taught anywhere until popularised in the early 1970s. It spread like wildfire and was taught everywhere because no one questioned it at first. But once you start looking into it, for every 1 scripture that hints that the theory could be true (not end times in general, but the part about the rapture happening and the final destruction), there are about 3 that explicitly go against it. This isn’t a place to argue it, but do some church history or even google the rapture theory, you’ll find tons of stuff that doesn’t support it. I even have the book at home by Tim Lahaye where he shows how he got his theory and how it ties into the Bible, and his arguements are full of “could mean this” and “which would give way for something like this to happen”s. Even he is unsure of the theory (the book has a blue cover, can’t remember the title though). Believe it if you want, but don’t claim that it is Biblical, the Bible will disagree with you.

          • James Francis

            December 8, 2012 at 19:17

            All true, but they still identify themselves as Christian. Fundamentally, if they believe in the resurrection and the trinity, they qualify as an offshoot of Christianity. Everything else is open to interpretation.

  3. Kervyn Cloete

    December 6, 2012 at 15:12

    If Braveheart was not on that list, you and I would have had some words, Bonthuys,

    And by “you and I” I actually just mean “you”. And by “words” I actually mean “a makeshift helmet placed over your head, while bees are poured in through a hole at the top”.


  4. DarthofZA

    December 6, 2012 at 15:17

    The battle at the End of Avengers. Maybe not.. but was epic. That one shot that lasts over a minute that goes over each and every single Avenger at different points in the fight has got to be the best shot in cinema history.


  5. James Francis

    December 6, 2012 at 18:23

    Nice touch including Zulu. That is still an awesome movie.


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