Historical Entertainment

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

Ranker Film
4k votes 489 voters 18.4k 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.

1
The Last of the Mohicans... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Pete Postlethwaite
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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#41 of 382 The Best War Movies Ever #154 of 291 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Crylisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

2
Gladiator is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen
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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#17 of 382 The Best War Movies Everfeaturing Gladiator Might Be One of The Most Historically Inaccurate Movies Everlisted 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
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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#12 of 382 The Best War Movies Ever #58 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

4
Master and Commander: Th... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany, Joseph Morgan
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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#54 of 382 The Best War Movies Ever #331 of 630 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

5
Kingdom of Heaven is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Eva Green, Liam Neeson, Edward Norton
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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6
Spartacus is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Tony Curtis
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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#63 of 382 The Best War Movies Ever #119 of 291 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Crylisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

7
300 is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Gerard Butler, Michael Fassbender, Lena Headey
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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#24 of 382 The Best War Movies Ever #310 of 630 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Moviesfeaturing This Is Sparta and These Are The Best Quotes From '300'

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
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
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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#59 of 382 The Best War Movies Ever #192 of 630 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Moviesfeaturing The Film Version Of 'Troy' Doesn't Even Come Close To The Brutality Of The Source Texts

10
Centurion is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Michael Fassbender, Olga Kurylenko, Imogen Poots
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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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
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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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
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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#148 of 382 The Best War Movies Ever #557 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #172 of 601 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

13
The Last Samurai is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Tom Cruise, Billy Connolly, Timothy Spall
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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#51 of 382 The Best War Movies Ever #298 of 630 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #559 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

14
Robin Hood is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Cate Blanchett, Russell Crowe, Mark Strong
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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#244 of 382 The Best War Movies Ever #543 of 601 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #16 of 32 Blockbusters With No Cultural Impact Whatsoever, Ranked

15
King Arthur is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Keira Knightley, Clive Owen, Ray Winstone
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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Rob Roy is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Liam Neeson, Jessica Lange, John Hurt
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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Robin Hood: Prince of Th... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Morgan Freeman, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner
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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#185 of 382 The Best War Movies Everfeaturing Behind The Scenes of 'Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves'listed on The Highest Grossing 90s Movies

18
A Knight's Tale is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Heath Ledger, Paul Bettany, Shannyn Sossamon
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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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
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
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
Masada is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Jim_In_Texas added Peter O'Toole, Barbara Carrera, David Warner
Masada is an American television miniseries that aired on ABC in April 1981. Advertised by the network as an "ABC Novel for Television," it was a fictionalized account of the ...more

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22
Henry V is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Christian Bale, Emma Thompson, Judi Dench
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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23
Excalibur is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Jim_In_Texas added Liam Neeson, Helen Mirren, Patrick Stewart
Excalibur is a 1981 dramatic fantasy film directed, produced and co-written by John Boorman that retells the legend of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table. Based solely on the 15th ...more

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24
The Last Legion is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Ben Kingsley, Colin Firth
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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25
Beowulf & Grendel is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list 25+ Fantastic Pre-Modern War Movies That Take Place a Long Time Ago
Gerard Butler, Stellan SkarsgÄrd, Sarah Polley
Beowulf & Grendel is a 2005 film loosely based on the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf. Filmed in Iceland and directed by Sturla Gunnarsson, it stars Gerard Butler as Beowulf, Stellan ...more

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