Entertainment

The Best War Movies of the 1980s  

Ranker Film
1.4k votes 269 voters 12.8k views 29 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite war films that were released in the 1980s.

War is hell. And it doesn’t matter if you love it or hate it. On this of the best 80s war movies you’ll find films that glorify war and films that show the horror it and films that do both. Did the 1980s produce the greatest war movies of all time? It's very well possible.

Born on the Fourth of July, Full Metal Jacket and Platoon all show the horrors of war, in this case each deals with the highly unpopular Vietnam War. On the other end of the spectrum, this list of top war movies from the 80s includes the rousing, gung-ho films Missing in Action, Red Dawn and Uncommon Valor. And don’t miss Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun which shows World War II from a unique angle.

Enjoy this list of great war movies from the '80s, vote up your favorites, and feel free to add any of your favorites that might be missing.

list ordered by
1
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Johnny Depp, Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe
Platoon is a 1986 American war film written and directed by Oliver Stone and starring Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe and Charlie Sheen. It is the first film of a trilogy of Vietnam War films by ...more
2
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Stanley Kubrick, Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey
Full Metal Jacket is a 1987 film directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay by Kubrick, Michael Herr, and Gustav Hasford was based on Hasford's novel The Short-Timers. The film ...more
3
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Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker, J. T. Walsh
Good Morning, Vietnam is a 1987 American comedy film written by Mitch Markowitz and directed by Barry Levinson. Set in Saigon in 1965, during Vietnam, the film stars Robin Williams as a radio DJ ...more
4
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Don Cheadle, Dylan McDermott, Courtney B. Vance
Hamburger Hill is a 1987 American film about the actual assault of the U.S. Army's 3rd Battalion, part of the 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division 'Screaming Eagles', on a well-fortified ...more
5
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Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer, Uwe Ochsenknecht
Das Boot is a 1981 German epic film written and directed by Wolfgang Petersen, produced by Günter Rohrbach, and starring Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer, and Klaus Wennemann. ...more
6
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Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick
Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Glory is a 1989 American drama film directed by Edward Zwick and starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes and Morgan Freeman. The screenplay was written by Kevin Jarre, based on ...more
7
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Clint Eastwood, Mario Van Peebles, Marsha Mason
Heartbreak Ridge is a 1986 American film directed and produced by Clint Eastwood, who also starred in the film. The film also co-stars Mario Van Peebles, Marsha Mason, and Everett McGill. The ...more
8
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Sylvester Stallone, Brian Dennehy, David Caruso
Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial First Blood is a 1982 American psychological thriller and action film directed by Ted Kotcheff, co-written by and starring Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo, a troubled and misunderstood veteran. ...more
9
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Charlie Sheen, Patrick Swayze, Lea Thompson
Red Dawn is a 1984 American film directed by John Milius and co-written by Milius and Kevin Reynolds. It stars Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, Charlie Sheen, and Jennifer Grey. ...more
10
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Bill Murray, John Candy, Dennis Quaid
Stripes is a 1981 American comedy film directed by Ivan Reitman, starring Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Warren Oates, P. J. Soles, and John Candy. It also featured several actors in their first ...more
11
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Christian Bale, Ben Stiller, John Malkovich
Empire of the Sun is a 1987 American coming of age film based on J. G. Ballard's semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. Steven Spielberg directed the film, which stars Christian Bale, ...more
12
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John Malkovich, Craig T. Nelson, Sam Waterston
This film is a 1984 British drama film set in Democratic Kampuchea, which is based on the experiences of two journalists: Cambodian Dith Pran and American Sydney Schanberg. The film, which won ...more
13
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Sylvester Stallone, Charles Napier, Richard Crenna
Rambo: First Blood Part II is a 1985 American action film directed by George P. Cosmatos and starring Sylvester Stallone. Picking up where the first film left, the sequel is set in the context ...more
14
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Mark Hamill, Lee Marvin, Robert Carradine
The Big Red One is a WWII film starring Lee Marvin and Mark Hamill, released in 1980. It was written and directed by Samuel Fuller. It was heavily cut on its original release, but a restored ...more
15
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Mel Gibson, Bill Hunter, Robert Grubb
Gallipoli is a 1981 Australian film directed by Peter Weir and starring Mel Gibson and Mark Lee, about several young men from rural Western Australia who enlist in the Australian Army during the ...more
16
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Sean Penn, Michael J. Fox, John C. Reilly
This film is a 1989 drama film directed by Brian De Palma, with a screenplay by David Rabe, based on the actual events of the incident on Hill 192 in 1966 during Vietnam. It stars Michael J. Fox ...more
17
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Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, Katharine Ross
The Final Countdown is a 1980 alternate history science fiction film about a modern ship that travels through time to a day before the 1941. Produced by Peter Vincent Douglas and directed by Don ...more
18
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Born on the Fourth of July, published in 1976, is the best selling autobiography by Ron Kovic, a Vietnam veteran who became an activist. Kovic was born on July 4, 1946, and his book's ironic ...more
19
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Gene Hackman, Patrick Swayze, Michael Dudikoff
Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Uncommon Valor is a 1983 action film written by Joe Gayton and directed by Ted Kotcheff, about a U.S. Marine officer who puts together a team to try to rescue his son, who he believes is among ...more
20
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Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, M. Emmet Walsh
Missing in Action is a 1984 action film directed by Joseph Zito and starring Chuck Norris. It is set in the context of the Vietnam War POW/MIA issue. Colonel Braddock, who escaped a Vietnamese ...more
21
Come and See is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best War Movies of the 1980s
iknowwhatawesternis added Aleksei Kravchenko, Liubomiras Lauciavicius, Vladas Bagdonas
Come and See is a 1985 Soviet drama film directed by Elem Klimov about and occurring during the Nazi German occupation of the Byelorussian SSR. Aleksei Kravchenko and Olga Mironova star as the ...more
22
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Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver, Linda Hunt
The Year of Living Dangerously is a 1982 drama film directed by Peter Weir and adapted from the novel The Year of Living Dangerously by Christopher Koch. The story is about a love affair set in ...more
23
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Yoshiko Shinohara, Akemi Yamaguchi, Ayano Shiraishi
Grave of the Fireflies is a 1988 Japanese animated drama film written and directed by Isao Takahata and animated by Studio Ghibli. It is based on the 1967 semi-autobiographical novel Grave of ...more
24
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Jeffrey Jones, David Soul, Michael Moriarty
The Hanoi Hilton is a 1987 Vietnam War film which focuses on the experiences of American prisoners of war who were held in the infamous Hoa Lo Prison in Hanoi during the 1960s and 1970s and the ...more
25
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Tatsuya Nakadai, Susumu Terajima, Jinpachi Nezu
Ran is a 1985 Japanese-French jidaigeki epic film directed and co-written by Akira Kurosawa. The film stars Tatsuya Nakadai as Hidetora Ichimonji, an aging Sengoku-era warlord who decides to ...more