I recently saw Robin Hood and left the theater feeling pretty damn impressed by how far some fight scenes and action sequences have come since I first began watching movies as a dangerously curious child with an appetite for violence. Although I have my soft spot for comedies and don’t mind a tear-jerking drama every now and then, nothing gets me moister than an epic battle sequence. For my money, it gets no better than a bunch of dudes swinging axes and other Medieval (or modern) weapons at each other’s faces. If you are as big of fan of adrenaline pumping brutality as I am, then you’ll love our list of the top battles in film history.
10. Ran, Attack on Hidetora’s Castle
This lesser known clip is probably the greatest scene filmed by Japanese filmmaker, Akira Kurosawa. Ran was Kurosawa’s last great epic. With a budget of $12 million, it was the most expensive Japanese film ever produced. The movie was hailed for its powerful images and use of color and sound. The Gustav Mahler-inspired film score, written by Toru Takemitsu, plays in isolation with background sound muted (most notably during the battle at the third castle).
9. Tora! Tora! Tora!, Attack on Pearl Harbor
There are two good films about Pearl Harbor – and Michael Bay had nothing to do with either. If From Here to Eternity dealt brilliantly with the human drama of the event, Tora! Tora! Tora! captures the sheer audacity of the Japanese aerial raid on the naval base. Massively expensive for its time (it cost an estimated $25 million) and featuring three directors, one American and two Japanese, this is truly filmmaking on an epic scale.
8. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Helms Deep
The battle of Helms Deep begins, and the Elves manage to hold the Uruk-hai at the wall, but it is blown up and many are killed during the ensuing attack through the breach. The Uruk-hai also manage to break the Gate despite Aragorn and Gimli’s best efforts, and they fall back to the Keep. Perhaps the most memorable portion of this scene comes when Gandalf arrives at the battle with 1,000 infantry ready to take down the Orcs.
7. Gladiator, Battle in Germania
Classical chaos in the thrilling Germania opening battle, as the Romans pitch a mudfight against hairy, scary forest-dwelling barbarians. Russell Crowe single-handedly revived epic sword-and-sandal films as he killed everything from lions to tigers to Germans to Spainards to tyrants.
6. Henry V, The Battle of Agincourt
Before the Battle of Agincourt, victory looks uncertain, and the young king’s heroic character is shown by his decision to wander around the English camp at night, in disguise, so as to comfort his soldiers and find out what they really think of him. Before the battle begins, Henry rallies his troops with his famous speech: “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.”
Lay down your weapons for now and return to the war zone on Wednesday for the top 5 movie battle scenes.