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The Best War Movie Battle Scenes Of All Time

Updated on October 1, 2014

Great Movie Battle Scenes

Here I have showcased video clips of what I think are some of the best movie battle scenes of all time; the scenes that I have personally enjoyed the most.

Epic battle scenes are becoming more and more common in war movies due to modern special effects, but there are some notable battle scenes from older movies - particularly some great battles which used thousands of extras.

I have not given the scenes that I have featured here any ranking, they simply appear on the list as I thought of them. No doubt there will be many popular battles from movies that I have not thought of or have never seen, so if there are any scenes that should be added, please leave a comment at the end of the lens to point me in the right direction and I will take a look and add the scene to this page if I enjoy watching it.

A Quick Question About Movie Battle Scenes - Please Vote

Which type of battle scene do you enjoy the most?

See results

Zulu - The Anglo-Zulu War - The Battle of Rorke's Drift - British Empire vs Zulu Kingdom

In this battle, in the movie Zulu, the British get a mauling from the Zulus but a resilient defense sees them score a narrow victory.

You can learn more about the history of the battle of Rorke's drift and those involved in it here: Rorke's Drift 1879.

The Royal Regiment of Wales's website has lots of interesting associated information too.

Saving Private Ryan - The D-Day Landings at Omaha Beach - Allies (US) vs Axis Forces (Germany)

In the opening minutes of Saving Private Ryan the American troops suffer heavy casualties but with overwhelming numbers they manage a comfortable win.

There is a huge amount of information about the Normandy landings on D-Day here; Normandy Landings and here; D-Day.

Star Wars, Episode IV - The Battle of Yavin/The First Death Star - Rebels vs The Empire

In Star Wars, despite a massive superiority of firepower the rebels score a last minute victory courtesy of their secret weapon - "The Force".

For those wanting to read about the fictional history of this battle, try Wookiepedia.

The Messenger - The Hundred Years War - The Battle of Orleans - England vs France

With manic leadership from Joan of Arc the French charge to a bloody and brutal victory with massive casualties on both sides. This video montage from "The Messenger" contains many excerpts from the battle scenes.

Details on the siege of Orleans can be found here; The Siege of Orleans, while information on the movie can be found here; The Messenger - The Story of Joan of Arc.

The Lord of the Rings; The Return of the King - The Battle of Minas Tirith (The Battle of the Pelennor Fields) - Kingdoms of Gondor & Rohan vs Hoards of Mor

Faced with a massive army of orcs, hillmen, oliphants, trolls and an assortment of other creatures the men of Gondor take a battering until help arrives to sweep away the enemy in this epic battle from "The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King".

You can read a description of the book's version of the battle here: The Battle of the Pelennor Fields. Anyone familiar with the movie will see that it varies greatly from this.

The Movies on DVD

Zulu
Zulu

A handful of redcoats are outnumbered by thousands of Zulus at the outpost of Rorke's Drift and take them on in choral and physical battle. A large portion of this movie is continual battle - perhaps it is the longest movie battle scene of all time?

 
Saving Private Ryan (Single-Disc Special Limited Edition)
Saving Private Ryan (Single-Disc Special Limited Edition)

The first ten to fifteen minutes of this movie are so realistic and frightening that you will feel like you are there; this is frequently quoted as the best movie battle scene of all time. Several other skirmishes are good too and the final battle would be the highlight of any other movie.

 
The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc
The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc

The battle scenes in this movie include some really awful villains that you will love to hate and some frenzied, heroic charges. Some unusual defences and siege engines are some interesting features. Battle scenes apart, this is a really good movie with some interesting ideas at the end - even though we know what happens to the Joan D'Arc.

 
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (Limited Edition)
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (Limited Edition)

Science fiction battles are not everybody's favorite but Star Wars is a classic and the Battle of Yavin at the end of the movie contains many memorable moments including the immortal words "Use the force Luke" and Darth Vader in his tie fighter.

 
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Full-Screen Edition)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Full-Screen Edition)

This great movie features one of the most epic movie battles ever seen with armored trolls, a huge fire-belching battering ram, gigantic battle elephants, a thrilling cavalry charge, Nazgul on winged serpents and hordes of hideous orcs. This is exactly what Lord of the Rings fans ordered.

 

Suriyothai - Burmese: Siamese War - The Battle of Ayuttaya - Kingdom of Siam vs Burma

Despite a valiant defense the Siamese protectors of Ayuttaya are thrashed by an elephant mounted invading Burmese army, despite the heroics of Queen Suriyothai.

Wikipedia has an article on Queen Suriyothai who is a legend in Thailand.

The Patriot - The Battle of Guilford Courthouse - Great Britain vs American Revolutionaries

The movie, "The Patriot" ends with this battle where an early intentional own goal lures the British into a careless attack and they are then narrowly beaten by a more motivated American force.

Find out about the real battle here; Guilford Courthouse National Military Park

Braveheart - The Battle of Sterling - England vs Scotland

Tricked into thinking they would score an easy victory the English are carved apart by the Scots in a very bloody battle one of many great moments in "Braveheart".

The battle as depicted in the movie varies considerably with the real Battle of Sterling Bridge.

Master And Commander - The Boarding a French Warship - England vs France

The culmination of Master and Commander is a battle in which a much smaller English vessel disguises itself as a whaler and catches a well-armed French vessel by surprise resulting in an English victory. Huzzah!

For more information on the movie take a look at Wikipedia: Master & Commander; The Far Side of the World

Spartacus - The Third Servile War - Slaves vs Roman Empire

Despite early promise by the slave army, led by Spartacus, the Romans' experience and numbers pay off for a decisive win.

Remember, this classic movie is based on true events; find out about the Third Servile War.

The Movies on DVD

The Legend of Suriyothai
The Legend of Suriyothai

Although this movie is a little long-winded it is worth watching for the elephant-mounted cavalry and artillery which makes for quite a spectacle in the final battle and a cross-dressing Burmese King is fun to watch too. The fact that this is based on a true story makes this movie interesting too as it is part of history that most English-speakers will be unaware of.

 
The Patriot (Special Edition)
The Patriot (Special Edition)

There are several good battle scenes and skirmishes in this movie but who can resist cheering for the American militia in the final battle against some really hateful English soldiers? The movie is entertaining but contains some selective history - never mind.

 
Braveheart (Two-Disc Special Collector's Edition)
Braveheart (Two-Disc Special Collector's Edition)

This movie has several amazing battle scenes involving masses of combatants but does contain some inaccurate history, but who really cares when it is as entertaining as this? Freedom? It is not much good if you have had your guts pulled out in front of a filthy, baying English mob.

 
Spartacus
Spartacus

Spartacus is a classic movie for many good reasons. One of these reasons is the enormous battle of the slaves versus Romans towards the end. I loved seeing the Romans march onto the battle field and get burned by the slaves flaming logs when I was a kid, and I guess I haven't grown up!

 
Master and Commander - The Far Side of the World (Full Screen Edition)
Master and Commander - The Far Side of the World (Full Screen Edition)

This movie does a brilliant job of staging the boarding a French ship and the privations of living on a ship. The final battle is probably the best ever filmed of a battle on a ship and the very young officers leading the fight makes an interesting twist. If this movie had been out when I was a child, I would have wanted to join the Navy.

 

Otoko-tachi no Yamato - The Sinking of the Yamato - Japan vs United States of America

The Japanese offer a spirited and typically frenzied defense of the Yamato but take a real thrashing by the Americans.

Black Hawk Down - The Battle of Mogadishu - Somali Militia vs United States of America

The Somalians are real underdogs against a far better equipped American army, but after shooting a Black Hawk Down an all-out effort by both sides results in a score draw.

We Were Soldiers - The Vietnam War - The Battle of La Drang - North Vietnam vs United States of America

In We Were Soldiers an isolated American force defends well but is slowly losing the day until an all-or-nothing final attack gets them an heroic victory.

Flags of Our Fathers - World War II - The Battle of Iwo Jima - United States vs Japan

Huge bloodshed on both sides sees much of this battle, in Flags of Our Fathers at a stalemate but eventually the American invaders manage a narrow win.

Troy - The Battle at the Gates of Troy

An amazingly poorly thought out attack on a well-defended castle sees the inhabitants of Troy thrash the opposition for a convincing win.

The Movies on DVD

Yamato (2005)
Yamato (2005)

No one does frenzied fighting like the Japanese - here they are going nuts! A superb account of life on a battleship during the war in the Pacific.

 
Troy - Director's Cut (Two-Disc Special Edition)
Troy - Director's Cut (Two-Disc Special Edition)

A good movie with some great battle scenes. But why the massed charge at the impenetrable walls of Troy? Oh yeah, so we can watch thousands of soldiers get slaughtered - great!

 
We Were Soldiers
We Were Soldiers

A movie that feels very realistic. No glamorization of war here, it's dirty, dreadful and chaotic - compelling viewing.

 
Black Hawk Down
Black Hawk Down

A very gritty movie based on true events. The whole movie is one long battle with a few American soldiers against hordes of rampaging Somalis.

 
Flags of Our Fathers (Full Screen Edition)
Flags of Our Fathers (Full Screen Edition)

A very realistic, very moving and thought-provoking movie. The battle scenes are quite intense.

 

Last Of The Mohicans - Ambush Of The English Column

In "Last of the Mohicans" a small English army and settlers retreat from a besieged fortress only to get ambushed by native Americans out for revenge.

The redcoats and entourage take a thrashing.

The Battle of Britain - The Battle of Britain, World War II - Allies vs Axis Forces (Germany)

Despite a determined and well-planned German attack, the British muster up one of the most determined defences of all time for the legendary victory that is The Battle of Britain.

Historical information about the Battle of Britain can be found on the RAF's website: Battle of Britain.

The Empire Strikes Back - The Battle of Hoth - Rebels vs The Empire

After a previous defeat the evil Empire Strikes Back with all guns blazing to wipe the floor with the rebel army on Hoth despite some rather questionable tactics.

Tae Guk Gi, Brotherhood Of War - Urban Battle - South Korea vs North Korea

The movie Tae Guk Gi (Brotherhood of War) was recommended to me in one of the comments on this lens.

The movie follows two brothers who initially both fight for the south in the Korean War and the things they do to survive. The story is told in a similar way to the movie Saving Private Ryan and the battle scenes, although not quite as epic, compare quite favorably to the more famous movie.

This video clip features one of the main battle scenes in which the South Korean forces prevail.

The Lord of The Rings; The Two Towers - The Battle of Helms Deep - The Kingdom of Rohan & Elves vs Saruman's Uruk-hai

In The Two Towers, an overwhelming army of Uru-kai begin to walk over the human defenders until the cavalry show up and win a convincing victory.

Probably the best thing about this battle scene is the build up when thousands of gross-looking Uru-kai warriors baying at the gates of Helms deep before launching a terrifying attack in the rain and dark.

Due to video clips of the battle repeatedly being removed from You Tube this one is currently the best I can find; without original soundtrack.

The Movies on DVD

The Lord Of the Rings: The Two Towers (Full Screen Edition)
The Lord Of the Rings: The Two Towers (Full Screen Edition)

A great movie featuring an awesome build up to an epic battle in the dark, in the rain.

 
Battle Of Britain
Battle Of Britain

Classic movie action featuring the aerial battle in the skies over south east England that turned the war.

 
Star Wars Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (2-discs with Full Screen enhanced and original theatrical versions)
Star Wars Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (2-discs with Full Screen enhanced and original theatrical versions)

The battle of Hoth is the opener and it is a fine one even if the tactics by both sides leave military strategists laughing.

 
The Last of the Mohicans
The Last of the Mohicans

A rousing story and some amazing battle scenes alongside great scenery. A great movie.

 
Tae Guk Gi - The Brotherhood of War
Tae Guk Gi - The Brotherhood of War

Two brothers end up on opposite sides in the Korean War.

 

What Is The Best War Movie Battle Scene? - Vote for the best battle scene

Which of these is the best war movie battle scene?

See results

Ironclad - The Siege of Rochester Castle, 1215

The movie Ironclad was released in cinemas in Spring 2011 and tells the story of the siege of Rochester castle in Kent, England, in the year 1215.

I watched this movie in the cinema, in April 2011, and came out shaking due to the level of violence in it. If this is what the siege of a medieval castle was like, I am very pleased that I never had to be in one; the battle scenes are grotesque, confusing, brutal and show the most hideous scenes of mutilation. If you like your battle scenes realistic, then this would seem pretty real to me; there is a real sense of desperate struggle in the combatants eyes and nothing of the choreographed sword high-fives that you see in many movies.

To some the battle scenes may be frustrating as they are filmed as if you were in the battle, so many events are seen out of only the corner of your eye or briefly - to me it added a sense of realism that was perhaps too much.

If you like movie battle scenes you should definitely check out this movie and form your own opinion. Please don't watch if violence upsets you - this is one of the most violent movies I have ever seen.

Ironclad
Ironclad

A small band of defenders attempt to hold Rochester castle, in England, against King John's mercenary forces with extremely violent battles as the result. Shaky and realistic battle scenes in this movie are not for the faint-hearted. As the siege reaches its climax everyone is required to fight, even the women, and equal opportunity butchering is offered by the invaders.

 

Some More Great Movie Battle Scenes For You To Watch

Here are a few more battle scenes which have been suggested to me in the comments section of this lens by readers. If you have not yet seen your favourite battle scene here or you have any more to add, please leave a comment telling me which scene you think should be considered and I will add it at a later date if I think it deserves inclusion on this page.

So far these include scenes from the following movies;

Kingdom of Heaven - The Battle of Hattin is one of the engagements represented in this movie, when the Christian armies marched out to fight from Jerusalem, and were ultimately defeated by, the Islamic army commanded by Saladin as a result of poor tactics, lack of water and exhaustion.

The Last Samurai - The Battle of Shiroyama resulted in a cavalry charge by heavily outnumbered Samurais against Imperial Japanese troops armed with modern weapons culminating in a foreseeable massacre. This Hollywood portrayal is typically heroic and dramatic.

Zulu Dawn - The Battle of Isandlwana was a major embarrassment for the British government when around 800 soldiers were massacred by the Zulu armies of Chief Chetshwayo. The worst defeat by a native force on a European colonist army. The movie features hoards of terrifying Zulus who eventually completely surround the British forces and rout them.

Centurion - The battles in this movie are fictitious and are based on the legend of the massacre of the Roman ninth legion in Caledonia. The main ambush in the movie is quite exciting and believable, set in a cold forest; an exciting movie if somewhat questionable in its historical accuracy.

Gettysburg - This battle is often referred to as the turning point of the American Civil War with it resulting in victory for the forces of the Union. The attack on Little Roundtop is the favourite moment of the movie for many fans. I have included it because many people recommended it, although I did not find it very exciting to be honest.

Waterloo - One of the most famous battles on this list; allied forces from United Kingdom, Prussia, Nassau, Netherlands, Hanover and Brunswick, commanded by The Duke of Wellington, inflict Napoleon's final defeat. Much of this movie features the key moments from this historic event including the attack on Hougomont, the Charge of the Scots and Greys plus the Last Stand of the Old Guard.

War and Peace - The Battle of Borodino is a favourite of movie buffs. The real battle was one of the major actions in Napoleon's invasion of Russia, and is the conflict that inspired the 1812 overture by the composer Tchaikovsky. It ended with both sides suffering heavy casualties and withdrawing.

Alexander - The Battle of Gaugamela is one of the key battles for military historians to study and it is the event which resulted in the fall of the Persian Empire and perhaps the making of Alexander the Great. The tactics used by Alexander have made this a famous battle although the portrayal of it perhaps deserves to be a little better.

Band Of Brothers - Superb World War II Drama

Band of Brothers
Band of Brothers

This is a superb mini series based on true events, following Easy Company of the 101st Airborne Division from their basic training, through D-Day to the end of the war.

For anyone who enjoys watching war movie battle scenes this series is essential viewing.

 

The Pacific - World War II Miniseries

The Pacific
The Pacific

If you like realistic war movie battle scenes then this HBO mini series has some of the most authentic (I imagine) battle scenes I have ever watched. The battle scenes in this series are not glorified and are very similar in feel to those well-known and dramatic scenes in the movie "Saving Private Ryan". This is an excellent set of DVDs for those who enjoy war movie battle scenes.

 

Your Comments On Movie Battle Scenes - Have I Got Them All?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Without a shadow of a doubt both scenes in Saving Private Ryan

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Eh, can't stand Saving Private Ryan. Anyway, the climax of the Battle of Britain, and the battle in the snow in Stalingrad are both amazing pieces of cinematography. Good choices with your list!

    • nickupton lm profile image
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      nickupton lm 7 years ago

      Thanks Pyjama Shark, I will take a look at those 2 scenes.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      LOTR The Return of the King: The cavalry charge and ensuing batle.

    • gideon43 profile image

      gideon43 7 years ago

      Saving Private Ryan has easily the best battle scenes ever in war movies, both the beginning and end.

      Zulu also rates pretty highly.

      Excellent lens, check out my own list of top war movies sometimes.

    • nickupton lm profile image
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      nickupton lm 7 years ago

      I agree. [in reply to gideon43]

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      good list, but battle of geonosis in star wars ep.2 is awesome, also pearl harbour has an epic bombing scene. all the other scenes are brilliant though.

    • nickupton lm profile image
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      nickupton lm 7 years ago

      Have to say I didn't like the battle of Geonosis, too much CGI for me. [in reply to Pete]

    • profile image

      kariano 7 years ago

      Thanks for videos!

    • AndyDad LM profile image

      Andrew Scott 7 years ago from New Zealand

      Cool lens. I prefer real battle scenes rather than GGI.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I think you need to watch John Woo's RED CLIFF, and revise your list a bit. The battle at the end of Part II is quite possibly the most impressive battle scene I've ever seen on film. And there's a battle using a Tortoise Formation in Part I that is a close runner-up.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      You may also want to check out the battle for Jerusalem in Kingdom of Heaven. It was quite impressive.

    • nickupton lm profile image
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      nickupton lm 6 years ago

      @anonymous: In fact I have seen it - I enjoyed the movie.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      Great collection

    • pumpnut lm profile image

      pumpnut lm 6 years ago

      Really tough to vote on any one battle. I think they all had their moments.

    • therealstig86 profile image

      therealstig86 6 years ago

      Awesome lens, I voted for Omaha beach it just shaded Zulu for me

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Great list of battle scenes. Have you seen Waterloo? It's mostly only available on Region 2 though. Gettysburg and Glory have some excellent Civil War battle scenes. Gladiator has some good battle scenes, as has Druids. Blessed by an angel

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 6 years ago from Canada

      Nicely done; I am sure your page will make some war movie fans very happy.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Brotherhood of War, my man, Brotherhood of War. I haven't once seen it on one of these lists but it desperately needs to be. It has my personal favourite battle scenes in it.

    • bensen32 lm profile image

      bensen32 lm 6 years ago

      I had to vote for D-Day Saving Private Ryan, It's just so intense. I am featuring you on my-top-10-war-movies lens. Great lens have to admit never seen Otoko-tachi no Yamato but I wrote it down and will begin the search to see it.

    • DuaneJ profile image

      DuaneJ 6 years ago

      very enjoyable lens...

    • nickupton lm profile image
      Author

      nickupton lm 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks, I added a battle scene from this movie to the "Some more movie battle scenes" section of this lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      How do the fight on Little Round Top or Pickett's Charge from the movie Gettysburg NOT get on this list!?

    • nickupton lm profile image
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      nickupton lm 5 years ago

      @anonymous: I bought it and really enjoyed it. Not only good battle scenes but a compelling story too.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: I think the sniper scene in Full Metal Jacket is the best battle scene ever.It's a great statement on the futility of the vietnam war,but it's so suspenseful and powerful.The acting by arliss howard as cowboy,trying to keep his squad of marines from panic firing,is so realistic,you believe you're actually there.Also,how many war movies actually have a twist in the end?

    • nickupton lm profile image
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      nickupton lm 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Because I haven't seen these movies, but I will certainly look out for them.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      The hell? Where's Private Ryan or Apocalypse now?

    • nickupton lm profile image
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      nickupton lm 5 years ago

      @anonymous: I went out and bought this movie and really enjoyed it. I have added one of the battle scenes here - thanks.

    • nickupton lm profile image
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      nickupton lm 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Saving Private Ryan is here and currently voted as the best movie battle scene of all time. I don't like Apocalypse Now at all!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      There is a spectacular scene at the start of a movie where a small British artillery force is waiting and all of a sudden a huge force of Arab horsemen attack down a hill, but the British artillery decimates the Arabs. It looked like a sure massacre at first but turned into a route of the Arabs. Fantastic battle scene, but I don't know the movie. Do you?

    • nickupton lm profile image
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      nickupton lm 5 years ago

      @anonymous: No I don't. I just spent some time searching for it on google but can't find anything. Maybe someone else knows it?

    • nickupton lm profile image
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      nickupton lm 5 years ago

      @nickupton lm: Just watched Pickett's charge. It is very long and slow. I found it very dull to watch to be honest.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Cross of iron has amazing battle scenes considering it was made back in the 70s. Super trench, tank and pillbox fighting. It was made during the Kursk campaign.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Laurence of arabia

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      The battle of Borodino in Sergei Bondarchuk's 'War & Peace' are pretty spectacular - echoed in his 'Waterloo'but not , imho, as exciting.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      The battle of Little Round Top in the movie Gettysburg. Out of ammo, about to get surrounded, ordered to hold - what else to do but fix bayonets and charge! It gives me goosebumps every time I see it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: How can you forget Waterloo with Steiger as Napoleón, Alatriste Siege of Breda underground scene, Kingdom of Heaven siege of Jerusalem, Patton battle of the Bulge...

    • nickupton lm profile image
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      nickupton lm 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks. I just added the battle of Borodino in the "Some more movie battle scenes" section.

    • nickupton lm profile image
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      nickupton lm 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Just added Waterloo to the " Some more movie battles" section. Kingdom of Heaven is already there. I will check out your other suggestions. Thanks.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Battle of guagamela in "Alexander". Amazing battle and the one in India (same movie). First battle in "Gladiator". Thanks for the info, some good movies i can watch on sundays.

    • nickupton lm profile image
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      nickupton lm 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Just added Battle of Guagamela from "Alexander", thanks for pointing it out.

    • nickupton lm profile image
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      nickupton lm 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I just watched that scene but sorry to say I did not think it was very good at all. Terrible acting and the charge was more of a waddle with a bit of skipping thrown in.

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