Throughout the history of man, violence has been deeply ingrained and embedded in our culture. This primal streak has culminated in many conquests and wars over the course of our civilization. While wars are a terrible loss of life, they serve as great teachers, using history as a blueprint to guide us about the cyclic nature of life and man.

War movies aim at capturing this essence of survival, as they are imbued with many elements of storytelling, ranging from action and adventure, to romance and a sense of duty. While many fans are familiar with classics like Saving Private Ryan and Apocalypse Now, a lot of people might have missed out on these underrated war movies that might not be as famous, but definitely pack a punch.

10 A Hidden Life (2019)

A Hidden Life movie
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Directed by one of the world’s premiere auteurs, A Hidden Life marked Terrence Malick’s return to form and is based on the real-life story of an Austrian farmer, Franz Jägerstätter, who becomes a notorious objector during WWII after refusing to fight for the Nazis. Visually poetic and spiritually charged, Mallick’s film is a meditative experience that revolves around man’s complicated relationship with violence.

9 Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)

Tora! Tora! Tora!
20th Century Studios
Toei Company

Tora! Tora! Tora! was an iconic film that gained attention because of its joint production effort between the Japanese and the Americans. The film highlights the lead-up to Japan’s shocking assault on Pearl Harbor in 1941, which eventually thrust the USA into global conflict, with a lot of its citizens being in favor of the war.

The film is split into two opposing stories from opposites viewpoints, while purposely being devoid of big stars and opting to focus on the narrative instead. Having been praised for its revolutionary action sequences and some decent VFX work, Tora! Tora! Tora! has blossomed into an underrated classic over the years.

Related: Best World War II Movies Ever Made, Ranked

8 The Siege of Jadotville (2016)

The Siege of Jadotville

Based on Declan Power’s non-fiction book of the same name, The Siege of Jadotville puts the spotlight on a group of underrated war heroes that were labeled as cowards for no mistake of theirs. Recounting the siege, an Irish army officer, Commandant Pat Quinlan (Jamie Dornan), is sent to lead a small group of UN peacekeepers in Congo and protect the compound from an enemy attack. Upon arrival, Quinlan realizes that his 150 troops are no match for the Kanganese mercenaries and surrenders in order to save his men. After being sent back to Ireland, Quinlan is branded a coward living a life full of embarrassment and shame, before the Irish government finally acknowledged the truth and put it out for the world to see.

7 Breaker Morant (1970)

Breaker Morant is one of the most underrated Australian movies of all time and is based on the 1902 court-martial of Harry “Breaker” Morant, focusing on a war crimes trial where several Australian soldiers were accused of murdering and looting unarmed enemy civilians. Despite having a clean sweep at the Australian awards, Breaker Morant is fairly unknown outside Australia, but is on par with some of the countries best works like Mad Max and Crocodile Dundee.

Related: Here Are 6 Great Australian Movies

6 Valkyrie (2008)

Cruise and Houten in Valkyrie

Documenting the colossal impact of the Nazi party and the courage of the few good men to stand up to it, Bryan Singer’s Valkyrie put the spotlight on the failed mission to assassinate Adolf Hitler by high-ranking members of the Nazi party. Despite not being successful in their efforts, the assassination attempt sent a wave of tremors down the top brass of the Nazi hierarchy, causing a lot of political turmoil.

Related: Tom Cruise's Highest-Grossing Movies of All Time

5 The Outpost (2020)

Scott Eastwood in The Outpost
Screen Media Films

Highlighting the cacophony and chaos of war, Rod Lurie’s film is an action fan’s dream, as it pits quality against quantity. Inspired by Jake Tapper’s nonfiction book, The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor, the film revolves around a small unit of American soldiers battling an overwhelming attack of Taliban forces, having come to be known as the Battle of Kamdesh. Lurie’s film isn’t all guns and bullets, as it also captures the human side of soldiers and the inhumane side of war.

4 Operation Finale (2018)

Oscar Isaac in Operation Finale

Operation Finale is more clever than it is strong. The film relies on strategy and elements of espionage over elements of all-out war. Set in a post-war scenario, Chris Weitz’s film follows Israeli military operatives who are tasked with tracing and capturing a high-ranking Nazi Officer, Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley).

Considered to be one of Hitler’s closest allies and the architect of the “Final Solution”, bringing Eichmann to justice was one of Israel's top agendas. The ending of Operation Finale is particularly powerful as it incorporates real-life footage from Eichmann’s trial, propagating the feeling of revenge and justice.

3 13 Hours: The Secret of Benghazi (2016)

Known for his penchant for spectacle over substance, Michael Bay shocked the world with 13 Hours: The Secret of Benghazi. Lauded by fans and critics alike for its rational use of action and essential use of logic, 13 Hours was made on a low budget, which worked in favor of the film as Bay and team were forced to narrow down their action sequences and eliminate all things unnecessary.

Led by an incredibly versatile John Krasinski and co, 13 Hours: The Secret of Benghazi tells the real story of the Annex Security Team that was tasked with defending an American diplomatic base in 2012 during a wave of terrorist attacks.

2 The Imitation Game (2014)

the imitation game

The Imitation Game is a bittersweet war movie that’s based on British mathematician Alan Turing’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) life, as he deciphered the German enigma code giving Britain the upper hand in war. Despite Turing’s heroics, the British government rewarded Turing’s homosexuality with unfair prosecution, leading to chemical castration, as an alternative option to a prison sentence. Turing died at the young age of 42 with an inquest deeming his death as a suicide by cyanide poisoning.

1 The Burmese Harp (1956)

The Burmese Harp

Brandon Films (USA)

Don’t pass on Kong Ichikawa’s The Burmese Harp because of its age. Like with all good things, Ichikawa’s film has matured like fine wine and is considered one of the best anti-war films to have ever been made. The film’s plot covers the final days of the Burma Campaign of WWII, merging violence with themes of Buddhist teaching. Upon its release, Ichikawa’s film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1956, not a common feat many films can boast off.