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The Best War Movies of the 1980s

Updated July 27, 2020 1.9k votes 312 voters 15.6k views29 items

List RulesVote 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.

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  • 1
    Platoon
    101
    23

    Platoon

    Johnny Depp, Charlie Sheen

    Released1986

    Directed byOliver Stone

    If you like this film, be sure to check out our list of the best Vietnam War movies.

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  • 2
    Full Metal Jacket
    100
    24

    Full Metal Jacket

    Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey

    Released1987

    Directed byStanley Kubrick

    Full Metal Jacket is a 1987 film directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay by... more on Wikipedia
  • 3
    Good Morning, Vietnam
    68
    19

    Good Morning, Vietnam

    Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker

    Released1987

    Directed byBarry Levinson

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  • 4
    Hamburger Hill
    63
    15

    Hamburger Hill

    Don Cheadle, Dylan McDermott

    Released1987

    Directed byJohn Irvin

    Hamburger Hill is a 1987 American film about the actual assault of the U.S. Army's 3rd... more on Wikipedia

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  • 5
    Das Boot
    64
    21

    Das Boot

    Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer

    Released1981

    Directed byWolfgang Petersen

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  • 6
    Glory
    67
    26

    Glory

    Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington

    Released1989

    Directed byEdward Zwick

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  • 7
    First Blood
    58
    25

    First Blood

    Sylvester Stallone, Brian Dennehy

    Released1982

    Directed byTed Kotcheff

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  • 8
    Heartbreak Ridge
    57
    25

    Heartbreak Ridge

    Clint Eastwood, Mario Van Peebles

    Released1986

    Directed byClint Eastwood

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  • 9
    Stripes
    54
    27

    Stripes

    Bill Murray, John Candy

    Released1981

    Directed byIvan Reitman

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  • 10
    Red Dawn
    57
    32

    Red Dawn

    Charlie Sheen, Patrick Swayze

    Released1984

    Directed byJohn Milius

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  • 11
    The Big Red One
    40
    20

    The Big Red One

    Mark Hamill, Lee Marvin

    Released1980

    Directed bySamuel Fuller

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  • 12
    Gallipoli
    41
    24

    Gallipoli

    Mel Gibson, Bill Hunter

    Released1981

    Directed byPeter Weir

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  • 13
    The Killing Fields
    38
    22

    The Killing Fields

    John Malkovich, Craig T. Nelson

    Released1984

    Directed byRoland Joffé

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  • 14
    Empire of the Sun
    42
    27

    Empire of the Sun

    Christian Bale, Ben Stiller

    Released1987

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

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  • 15
    Born on the Fourth of July
    55
    42

    Born on the Fourth of July

    Tom Cruise, Willem Dafoe

    Released1989

    Directed byOliver Stone

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  • 16
    Rambo: First Blood Part II
    41
    26

    Rambo: First Blood Part II

    Sylvester Stallone, Charles Napier

    Released1985

    Directed byGeorge P. Cosmatos

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  • 17
    The Final Countdown
    38
    24

    The Final Countdown

    Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen

    Released1980

    Directed byDon Taylor

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  • 18
    Uncommon Valor
    37
    24

    Uncommon Valor

    Gene Hackman, Patrick Swayze

    Released1983

    Directed byTed Kotcheff

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  • 19
    Casualties of War
    40
    31

    Casualties of War

    Sean Penn, Michael J. Fox

    Released1989

    Directed byBrian De Palma

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  • 20
    84C MoPic
    22
    26

    84C MoPic

    Glenn Morshower, Nicholas Cascone

    Released1989

    Directed byPatrick Sheane Duncan

    84C MoPic is a 1989 drama, war film written and directed by Patrick Sheane Duncan.
  • 21
    Grave of the Fireflies
    19
    21

    Grave of the Fireflies

    Yoshiko Shinohara, Akemi Yamaguchi

    Released1988

    Directed byIsao Takahata

    Grave of the Fireflies is a 1988 Japanese animated drama film written and directed by Isao... more on Wikipedia
  • 22
    Missing in Action
    22
    29

    Missing in Action

    Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme

    Released1984

    Directed byJoseph Zito

    Missing in Action is a 1984 action film directed by Joseph Zito and starring Chuck Norris. It... more on Wikipedia
  • 23
    Kagemusha
    15
    22

    Kagemusha

    Tatsuya Nakadai, Kenichi Hagiwara

    Released1980

    Directed byAkira Kurosawa, Ishirō Honda

    Kagemusha is a 1980 film by Akira Kurosawa. In Japanese, kagemusha is a term used to denote a... more on Wikipedia
  • 24
    The Year of Living Dangerously
    15
    23

    The Year of Living Dangerously

    Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver

    Released1982

    Directed byPeter Weir

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  • 25
    The Winds of War
    16
    25

    The Winds of War

    The Winds of War is Herman Wouk's second book about World War II, the first being The Caine... more on Wikipedia

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