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25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago 

Ranker Film
Updated July 7, 2019 4.4k votes 529 voters 19.5k views 34 items

Pre-modern war movies feature epic battles and hand-to-hand combat to create some of the bloodiest wars ever caught on film. The top ancient war movies feature classic heroes motivating the masses to fight against oppression. This is a list of historical war movies featuring everything from The Last of the Mohicans to 300 to The Last Samurai.

What historical war films will you find on this list? You might vote Braveheart to the top of the pack. Directed by and starring Mel Gibson, this hit film's unforgettable battle scenes helped it to take home five Academy Awards. Gladiator is another fantastic ancient war movie about one man's quest for justice. Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus featured Kirk Douglas in the title role of a slave rising up against his Roman masters. Other good movies featured on this roundup of the best pre-modern war films include Willow, First Knight, and Kingdom of Heaven.

Do you have a favorite historical war film? Give the best movies a thumbs up and get in on the conversation in the comments section.

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1
Gladiator is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen

Released: 2000

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Gladiator is a 2000 American-British epic historical drama film directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Ralf Möller, Oliver Reed, Djimon Hounsou, ...more

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2
The Last of the Mohicans... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Pete Postlethwaite

Released: 1992

Directed by: Michael Mann

The Last of the Mohicans is a 1992 historical epic film set in 1757 and produced by Morgan Creek Pictures. It was directed by Michael Mann and based on James Fenimore Cooper's novel of the same ...more

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#34 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #55 of 367 The Best Movies Based On Bookslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

3
Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

Released: 1995

Directed by: Mel Gibson

Braveheart is a 1995 epic historical medieval war drama film directed by and starring Mel Gibson. Gibson portrays William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First ...more

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#23 of 375 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #88 of 349 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

4
Kingdom of Heaven is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Eva Green, Liam Neeson, Edward Norton

Released: 2005

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Kingdom of Heaven is a 2005 epic historical drama directed and produced by Ridley Scott and written by William Monahan. It stars Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Jeremy Irons, David Thewlis, Brendan ...more

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5
Master and Commander: Th... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany, Joseph Morgan

Released: 2003

Directed by: Peter Weir

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a 2003 epic historical drama film co-written and directed by Peter Weir, starring Russell Crowe as Jack Aubrey, with Paul Bettany as Stephen ...more

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6
300 is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Gerard Butler, Michael Fassbender, Lena Headey

Released: 2006

Directed by: Zack Snyder

300 is a 2006 American fantasy war film based on the 1998 comic series of the same name by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley. Both are fictionalized retellings of the Battle of Thermopylae which took ...more

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7
Spartacus is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Tony Curtis

Released: 1960

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

Spartacus is a 1960 American epic historical drama film directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay by Dalton Trumbo was based on the novel Spartacus by Howard Fast. It was inspired by the life ...more

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8
Apocalypto is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Raoul Trujillo, Gerardo Taracena, Israel Contreras

Released: 2006

Directed by: Mel Gibson

Apocalypto is a 2006 American epic adventure film directed and produced by Mel Gibson. It was written by Gibson and Farhad Safinia. Set in pre-Columbian Petén, Guatemala, around the year ...more

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9
Troy is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
jordansk added Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom

Released: 2004

Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen

Troy is a 2004 epic period war film directed by Wolfgang Petersen, loosely based on Homer's Iliad. After Paris smuggles Queen Helen to Troy, Achilles leads his Myrmidons along with the rest of ...more

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10
The Last Samurai is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Tom Cruise, Billy Connolly, Timothy Spall

Released: 2003

Directed by: Edward Zwick

The Last Samurai is a 2003 American epic film directed and co-produced by Edward Zwick, who also co-wrote the screenplay with John Logan. The film stars Tom Cruise, who also co-produced, as well ...more

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#63 of 375 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #372 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #100 of 581 The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

11
The Eagle is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Channing Tatum, Donald Sutherland, Mark Strong

Released: 2011

Directed by: Kevin Macdonald

The Eagle is a 2011 historical adventure film set in Roman Britain directed by Kevin Macdonald, and starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell and Donald Sutherland. Adapted by Jeremy Brock from ...more

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12
The 13th Warrior is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Omar Sharif, Antonio Banderas, Tony Curran

Released: 1999

Directed by: John McTiernan, Michael Crichton

The 13th Warrior is a 1999 American historical fiction action film based on the novel and is a loose retelling of the tale of Beowulf. It stars Antonio Banderas as Ahmad ibn Fadlan, Diane Venora ...more

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13
Centurion is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Michael Fassbender, Olga Kurylenko, Imogen Poots

Released: 2010

Directed by: Neil Marshall

Centurion is a 2010 British historical action film directed by Neil Marshall, loosely based on the legend of the Ninth Legion in Caledonia in the early second century AD. The film stars Michael ...more

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14
King Arthur is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Keira Knightley, Clive Owen, Ray Winstone

Released: 2004

Directed by: Antoine Fuqua

King Arthur is a 2004 action adventure film directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by David Franzoni. It stars Clive Owen as the title character, Ioan Gruffudd as Lancelot, and Keira Knightley as ...more

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15
Robin Hood: Prince of Th... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Morgan Freeman, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner

Released: 1991

Directed by: Kevin Reynolds

This film is a 1991 American-British adventure film directed by Kevin Reynolds. The film stars Kevin Costner as Robin Hood, Morgan Freeman as Azeem, Christian Slater as Will Scarlet, Mary ...more

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16
Robin Hood is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Cate Blanchett, Russell Crowe, Mark Strong

Released: 2010

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Robin Hood is a 2010 action film written by Brian Helgeland and directed by Ridley Scott. Robin Hood, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett will open the 2010 ...more

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17
A Knight's Tale is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Heath Ledger, Paul Bettany, Shannyn Sossamon

Released: 2001

Directed by: Brian Helgeland

A Knight's Tale is a 2001 medieval adventure comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by Brian Helgeland. The film stars Heath Ledger, Shannyn Sossamon, Mark Addy, Alan Tudyk, Rufus ...more

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18
Rob Roy is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Liam Neeson, Jessica Lange, John Hurt

Released: 1995

Directed by: Michael Caton-Jones

Rob Roy is a 1995 adventure film directed by Michael Caton-Jones. Liam Neeson stars as Rob Roy MacGregor, an 18th-century Scottish clan chief who battles with an unscrupulous nobleman in the ...more

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19
The Messenger: The Story... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Milla Jovovich, Dustin Hoffman, John Malkovich

Released: 1999

Directed by: Luc Besson

The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc is a 1999 French historical drama film directed by Luc Besson. The film stars Milla Jovovich, John Malkovich, Faye Dunaway and Dustin Hoffman. The ...more

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20
Beowulf is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich

Released: 2007

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Beowulf is a 2007 American motion capture computer-animated fantasy film directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary, inspired by the Old English epic poem of the same ...more

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21
The Last Legion is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Ben Kingsley, Colin Firth

Released: 2007

Directed by: Doug Lefler

The Last Legion is a 2007 film directed by Doug Lefler. Produced by Dino De Laurentiis and others, it is based on a 2003 Italian novel of the same name written by Valerio Massimo Manfredi. It ...more

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#18 of 60 The Best Roman Movies #27 of 47 The Best Sword and Sandal Films Ever Made #56 of 189 The Best Medieval Movies

22
Immortals is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Mickey Rourke, Freida Pinto, John Hurt

Released: 2011

Directed by: Tarsem Singh

Immortals is a 2011 3D mythology fantasy film directed by Tarsem Singh and starring Henry Cavill, Freida Pinto, and Mickey Rourke. The film also stars Luke Evans, Steve Byers, Kellan Lutz, ...more

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23
Henry V is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Christian Bale, Emma Thompson, Judi Dench

Released: 1989

Directed by: Kenneth Branagh

Henry V is a 1989 British drama film adapted for the screen and directed by Kenneth Branagh, based on William Shakespeare's play of the same name about King Henry V of England. The film stars ...more

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24
Alexander is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer, Colin Farrell

Released: 2004

Directed by: Oliver Stone, Wilhelm Sasnal, Anka Sasnal

Alexander is a 2004 action adventure biography film written by Oliver Stone, Christopher Kyle and Laeta Kalogridis and directed by Oliver Stone.

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25
First Knight is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Sean Connery, Richard Gere, Julia Ormond

Released: 1995

Directed by: Jerry Zucker

First Knight is a 1995 medieval film based on Arthurian legend, directed by Jerry Zucker. It stars Richard Gere as Lancelot, Julia Ormond as Guinevere, Sean Connery as King Arthur and Ben Cross ...more

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#276 of 375 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #475 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #72 of 78 The Best Period Romance Movies