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Top List Thursdays – Top Ten War Movies

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WAR! GOOD GOD Y’ALL! What is it good for? Ripping great yarns, massive movies and some of the finest cinema you’ve ever seen, that’s what! Here’s ten such movies that proved that war may have been hell for anyone involved in it, but heavenly to watch.

  • The Great Escape


I don’t even need to describe this gripping tale of a World War 2 prisoner of war escape movie. Hell, the signature theme tune which is remarkably easy to whistle to, speaks mountains more of this classic movie.

  • Platoon


When it comes to cult movies, Platoon would easily be at home on any top ten list. Willem Dafoe’s iconic death scene is seared into the brain of anyone who has seen the flick, as director Oliver Stone painted an unflattering image of the Vietnam war that cost the lives of many American soldiers in the most pointless conflict of the 20th century.

  • Full Metal Jacket

Full Metal Jacket

If you’ve ever watched Full Metal Jacket, you most likely won’t remember more than the grueling boot camp scene which real-life drill instructor R. Lee Ermey acted several shades of improvised crap out of. Hellish and tormenting, Stanley Kubrick filmed a masterpiece that detailed how a human being was broken and rebuilt into a perfect killing machine, before being shipped off to Vietnam in order to be solicited by cheap sex workers.

  • The Bridge On The River Kwai

The Bridge On The River Kwai

Say what you like about the British, but when it comes to building a bridge for the Axis forces while being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, those tea-sipping warriors are at the top of their game. With no chance of escape and morale dwindling, British colonel Alec Guinness uses an order to build a mighty bridge from camp commandant Sessue Hayakawa to not only keep his men in line, but subtly vie for power in a tense game where the stakes are far, far too high.

  • Three Kings

Three Kings

It may have depicted a war in the movie houses where it was shown, but the battles behind the scenes of David O. Russell’s Gulf War epic were the stuff of legend as the director often clashed with star George Clooney.

But the payoff was so worth it, as Three Kings wasn’t only a gritty wartime film with heart and savvy political commentary, but packed with off the wall comedy as well.

  • Saving Private Ryan

Saving Private Ryan

Drama, authentic action and a Normandy beach invasion that’d make you heave your guts. Not only was Stephen Spielberg’s wartime movie a grand and epic event, but it was also intimate at times, as audiences got to know the soldiers of the squad sent in to save one lone private during the height of the Allied offensive against the Axis forces. Grabbing you right from the start, the film equaled its impressive opening with a climax that saw soldiers die and a small European village reduced to even more rubble at the end.

  • The Thin Red Line

The Thin Red Line

Talk about bad timing. Chalked up as a poor clone of Saving Private Ryan, Terence Malick’s The Thin Red Line was an equally impressive movie when you actually sat down to watch it. Adapting the  James Jones’ novel about the Battle of Guadalcanal in WWII’s Pacific theater, the tone was bleak, thought-provoking and a far cry different from the more kinetic film from senor Spielbergo.

Plus it had some rather fantastic action set-pieces that were sadly overlooked, as audiences didn’t flock to invade cinemas to see this particular wartime drama.

  • Empire Of The Sun

Empire Of The Sun

Had your fill of World War 2 soldiers battling to come to grips with the horrors of war? Well how about a Batman origin story instead that finds a young caped crusader growing up in a Japanese prisoner of war camp instead? Well, that might be a bit of a stretch, but Christian Bale still brought plenty of fire to another Steven Spielberg movie set in WW2.

With the Allies having abandoned Shanghai, a 12 year old Bale has to survive several years in a POW camp that slowly chips away at his resolve, as he learns firsthand that in war, nobody wins.

  • The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen

Chances are that if you’ve ever seen The Dirty Dozen, it was due to your dad badgering to sit down and watch it with him. And you know what? Your daddy was right! A dozen misfits banding together, ready to take on a suicidal mission is a great premise on its own, but chuck in the star power of actors such as Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson and Donald Sutherland, and you’ve got a recipe for an action movie starring a bunch of lovable bastards.

  • Starship Troopers

Starship Troopers

Wait what? You’re telling me that the Earth/Klendathu conflict makes for one of the finest movies of all time? Hell yeah it does! Starship Troopers had it all: Propaganda, thinly-veiled fascism and some of the best action scenes this side of a blitzball match.

Paul Verhoevern was in fine form when he shot this flick, asking audiences if they wanted to know more and then dropping them into a bloody conflict that saw the body count soar while limbs and heads were severed. It’s most likely the only film on this list that’ll make you pump your fist in the air and yell “f*** yeah!”.

Last Updated: April 2, 2015

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