A dozen good war films you might not have seen

by angusfoggie | created - 23 Jun 2012 | updated - 21 Aug 2012 | Public

Somewhat historically accurate, plenty of violence and weapons and not too much about the wives and girlfriends.

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1. Stalingrad (1993)

Not Rated | 134 min | Drama, War

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The story follows a group of German soldiers, from their Italian R&R in the summer of 1942 to the frozen steppes of Soviet Russia and ending with the battle for Stalingrad.

Director: Joseph Vilsmaier | Stars: Dominique Horwitz, Thomas Kretschmann, Jochen Nickel, Sebastian Rudolph

Votes: 25,884 | Gross: $0.08M

Perhaps the best war movie ever. Definitely not the best movie ever. From R&R to the snowy end, we see cowardice and courage demonstrated in convincing battle scenes played out with every weapon of the theatre. Although the budget doesn't stretch to recreating the train station, Sargeant Pavlov's house or other famous battlefields of Stalingrad the film tries to cover the scene and situations of the battle. From the famous airlift and anti-tank action in the countryside around the city to the house to house and tunnel fighting that defined the siege.

2. Come and See (1985)

Not Rated | 142 min | Drama, War

8.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

After finding an old rifle, a young boy joins the Soviet resistance movement against ruthless German forces and experiences the horrors of World War II.

Director: Elem Klimov | Stars: Aleksey Kravchenko, Olga Mironova, Liubomiras Laucevicius, Vladas Bagdonas

Votes: 32,969

One of the nastiest periods of any war this is a like a depressing, realistic version of Apocalypse Now.

3. The Star (2002)

97 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

During WW2 the Russian Army sent a special group named "Zvezda" to fight the Nazis in their backyard.

Director: Nikolay Lebedev | Stars: Igor Petrenko, Artyom Semakin, Aleksey Panin, Aleksey Kravchenko

Votes: 1,919

Perfectly planned action movie, a delight to watch. It's low budget never impinges on the historical narrative of one fictional small unit action on the Russian front.

4. Captain Conan (1996)

129 min | Drama, War

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The war exploits of French captain Conan and his men during World War I and during the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War.

Director: Bertrand Tavernier | Stars: Philippe Torreton, Samuel Le Bihan, Bernard Le Coq, Catherine Rich

Votes: 1,606

Like a French Deer Hunter set in World War One this only just qualifies as a war film. But unlike the Deer Hunter this film is tightly put together and returns to warlike action in surprising ways. The combat scenes in Eastern Europe present an original aspect of the war we know so well from Biggles to Lawrence of Arabia.

5. Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (2004)

R | 140 min | Action, Drama, War

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
64 Metascore

A drama about the fate of brothers forced to fight in the Korean War.

Director: Je-kyu Kang | Stars: Dong-gun Jang, Bin Won, Eun-ju Lee, Hyeong-jin Kong

Votes: 33,952 | Gross: $1.11M

A big budget epic blast through the Korean War, without any US triumphalism. Lashings of great action that doesn't shy away from atrocity or heroism. Realism is considered, especially in the visceral artillery barrages, but not a top priority unless the Korean War descended into fisticuffs rather more than the average bar brawl.

6. Talvisota (1989)

199 min | Drama, History, War

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Set during World War 2. After Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, Russia attacked Finland in November 1939. Finnish reservists leave their homes and go to war. The film focuses ... See full summary »

Director: Pekka Parikka | Stars: Taneli Mäkelä, Vesa Vierikko, Timo Torikka, Heikki Paavilainen

Votes: 6,775

A grim slog punctuated with pithy Finnish humour. Realism rules in this patriotically grim tale of trench warfare and endless Russian assaults.

7. Nefes: Vatan Sagolsun (2009)

128 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

8.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Story of 40-man Turkish task force who must defend a relay station.

Director: Levent Semerci | Stars: Mete Horozoglu, Ilker Kizmaz, Baris Bagci, Ozgur Eren Koc

Votes: 27,743

Beautifully shot, this a modern anti-war film about a war that is still ongoing, between Turkey and its Kurdish separatists. This is a political film that dare not criticise Turkey directly or romanticise the insurgents. A tense build up full of character and startling action scenes. First use of tea to disguise a sniper position in any film!

8. The Great Raid (2005)

R | 132 min | Action, Drama, War

6.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
48 Metascore

Taking place towards the end of WWII, 500 American Soldiers have been entrapped in a camp for 3 years. Beginning to give up hope they will ever be rescued, a group of Rangers goes on a dangerous mission to try and save them.

Director: John Dahl | Stars: Benjamin Bratt, Joseph Fiennes, James Franco, Robert Mammone

Votes: 19,461 | Gross: $10.17M

Not a particularly good film but worth watching for its meticulous account of a real battle.

9. Pork Chop Hill (1959)

Approved | 97 min | War, Drama, Action

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

During the Korean War peace talks, U.S. troops fight to retake a hill from the Communist Chinese forces.

Director: Lewis Milestone | Stars: Gregory Peck, Harry Guardino, Rip Torn, George Peppard

Votes: 3,551 | Gross: $4.02M

Gregory Peck is the All American hero in a travesty of the All American War. Like Hamburger Hill this is an uphill slog, but worth it for the action seen through the eyes of the company commander in the field.

10. The Bridge (1959)

Not Rated | 103 min | Drama, War

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

In 1945, Germany is being overrun, and nobody is left to fight but teenagers.

Director: Bernhard Wicki | Stars: Folker Bohnet, Fritz Wepper, Michael Hinz, Frank Glaubrecht

Votes: 5,856

Child soldiers defend a bridge in a Germany against the advancing US army. Made in Germany not long after WWII this movie pulls no punches.

11. Saints and Soldiers (2003)

PG-13 | 90 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

6.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
56 Metascore

Four American soldiers and one Brit fighting in Europe during World War II struggle to return to Allied territory after being separated from U.S. forces during the historic Malmedy Massacre.

Director: Ryan Little | Stars: Corbin Allred, Alexander Polinsky, Kirby Heyborne, Larry Bagby

Votes: 18,622 | Gross: $1.31M

Made by re-enacters this low-budget is a treat for war movie fans. Set in the Battle of the Bulge it tells a simple but entertaining story of the WWII Western Front.

12. The Beast of War (1988)

R | 111 min | War

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A Soviet tank and its warring crew become separated from their patrol and lost in an Afghan valley with a group of vengeance-seeking rebels on their tracks.

Director: Kevin Reynolds | Stars: George Dzundza, Jason Patric, Steven Bauer, Stephen Baldwin

Votes: 7,738 | Gross: $0.16M

Cracking movie about a Stalingrad-veteran tank commander and his crew in Afghanistan. The characters are exaggerated but it is a detailed exposition of the tremendous destructive power of a single T-55, even if a flamethrower seems to be a bit an exaggeration (not many TO-55s were made).