Top 25 Best Medieval Movies With Great Combat and Adventure

Best Medieval Movies
Sword and Shield, Gore, War and Romance... Medieval Films have them all

Sword, shield, and often sorcery medieval films tend to garner a lot of interest, and with Game of Thrones recently bringing a Middle-Age type tale (albeit fantasy) to our screens in a monumental way, you may find yourself in search for your next medieval fix. Listed below are 25 films, all released since 1990, that are well worth your time if you enjoy the medieval narrative.

25) Black Death (2010)

Starring Eddie Redmayne and Sean Bean, Black Death is set around the first outbreak of the Black Death (bubonic plague) in England. Redmayne plays a monk who is tasked with finding out why one particular town is not being affected by the Plague like all the others. The film is dark and has great battle scenes, and under the surface it tackles and challenges thoughts on religion and paganism. Redmayne leads Bean’s Christian Soldiers to the town where the are met by an eerie Carice Van Outen who plays Melisandre in Game of Thrones. Not a Box Office hit, this film is definitely worth a watch for fans of medieval movies.

24) Macbeth (2015)

This retelling of the famous William Shakespeare tragedy of the same name stars Michael Fassbender as the Thane of Glamis. Directed by Justin Kurzel, the film follows Macbeth after he receives a prophecy from three witches telling him that he will become the King of Scotland and is swallowed by ambition as he acts to fulfil it. The film is gritty, bloody, and Fassbender’s performance makes it well worth watching for your medieval fix.

23) Braveheart (1995)

Mel Gibson’s award-winning Braveheart is rarely left off ‘Best 90s Movies’ list, so its inclusion here is a no-brainer. It is fierce, emotional, and important all at the same time. Mel Gibson directed the film himself and starred as the Scottish Sir William Wallace, driven to revolt against England’s King Edward I after his (secret) wife is executed for attacking an English soldier who tried to rape her. Sir William Wallace lost many loved ones when he was young in Scotland’s struggle for freedom, and the loss of another sets him on the path to rebellion.

22) Robin Hood (2010)

Robin Hood depicts the birth of the legend of Robin Longstride (played by Russell Crowe) as he returns to England along with his companions after the death of King Richard in France. They happen upon Godfrey’s (Mark Strong) plot to King John and allow a takeover by France and the archer, Robin Hood, must use his wit and courage to take on all of the political intrigue and betrayal and put a stop to this malicious plot. ‘Rise and rise again, until lambs become lions.'

21) Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

Boasting a strong cast list (Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, Alan Rickman), Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was a hit in 1991 for good reason. Also based on the tale, Robin of Locksley (Costner) and a Moor, Azeem (Freeman), escape to England after being captured by Turks during the crusades. Robin saves Azeem’s life, and he vows never to leave him until he returns the favour. Robin returns home to find his father murdered and Prince John on the throne. He vows to avenge him and return King Richard to the throne. The film is one of the most entertaining of medieval films, with good action and comic-relief throughout. Alan Rickman’s performance as Sheriff of Nottingham even won him a BAFTA for Best Actor in a Supporting Role!

20) Army of Darkness (1992)

Also known as Bruce Campbell vs. Army Darkness, this film is the third movie in the Evil Dead franchise. Ash Williams plays Bruce Campbell as he is accidentally trapped in Medieval times and has to battle an army of the undead and retrieve the ‘Necronomicon’, the book of the dead, in his quest to make it back to the present. The film is fast and furious and a lot of fun to watch… it is certainly one of the more whacky films on the list!

19) A Knight’s Tale (2001)

Inspired by Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘The Canterbury Tales’, A Knight’s Tale stars Heath Ledger as William Thatcher, a peasant who, after his master dies, creates a new identity for himself as Ulrich Von Lichtenstein, a knight, in order to get food and glory. Meeting a young Geoffrey Chaucer (Paul Bettany) on the road, Thatcher persuades him to forge documents for him that would ‘prove’ he was a knight and allow him to compete in jousting tournaments. The film incorporates elements of modern rock music and saying into its medieval setting, making for an interesting and fun watch!

18) Spartacus: War of the Damned

Spartacus: War of the Damned is loosely based on the story of the Thracian gladiator, Spartacus, who led a slave uprising and was subsequently condemned to death in the area. Spartacus proves himself to be a formidable gladiator, and his death sentence becomes a life of slavery as a gladiator. Gore, sex, betrayal, and drama abound in this awesome TV series that you should start binging now.

17) Season of the Witch (2010)

This historical fantasy film stars Nicholas Cage and Ron Perlman as Teutonic Knights in the 14th Century, as they return to Austria after fighting in the crusades and find it has been ravaged by the Black Death. They are discovered as deserters and become tasked with transporting a suspected witch to a group of monks that will be able to determine her identity and stop her powers, thus ending the Plague. Though cheesy in parts, the film is a good ride full of action, with destructive forces and magical powers mixed in.

16) King Arthur (2004)

Based on what is believed to be a more historically accurate version of the legend, King Arthur (played by Clive Owen) depicts Arthur as part of the Roman cavalry who, rather than waiting to rule, wants only to return home to Rome. One final mission sees him and his Knights realise that once Rome is gone, Britain will need a king – and led by former enemy, Merlin, Arthur will have to stand up and become the leader he is to be. The new angle is quite bizarre but entertaining, and there are some fantastic battle scenes throughout. The cast list includes Owen, Keira Knightley, Mads Mikkelson, and Stephen Dillane, and should be considered when looking for your next medieval film.

15) The 13th Warrior (1999)

Based on the novel Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park), The 13th Warrior is a loose reimagining of the Beowulf story. Antonio Banderas stars as Ahmed ibn Fadlan in the 10th Century is sent away as an emissary after falling in love with the wrong woman. After mist-creatures (the Wendol) attack a Viking camp’s homeland, Fadlan must join forces with the Vikings and battle this supernatural enemy. The mix of Persian and Norse tradition makes for a thrilling watch, despite its Box Office lull.

14) Alexander

Based on the story of Alexander the Great, Alexander sees Colin Firth star as the the King of Macedonia and one of the greatest wartime leaders of all time. The film follows the young king as he leads his army against the Persian Empire and drives into Egypt and India, facilitating the spread of Greek culture. Anthony Hopkins and Angelina Jolie also feature in this ferocious retelling, where fortune favours the bold.       

13) The Lion in Winter (2003)

Based on the 1966 screenplay by James Goldman, and a remake of the 1968 screen version of the play, The Lion in Winter stars Patrick Stewart as King Henry II as he keeps his wife, Eleanor (Glenn Close) locked away due to her repeat attempted to overthrow him. Using her sons, Eleanor plots to overthrow her husband in favour of one of her sons, Richard, played by Andrew Howard. Pre-Game of Thrones political intrigue ensues in this fantastically intriguing film that won several awards for good reason.

12) Arn: The Knight Templar (2007)

Based on the Crusades trilogy by Jan Guillou, this film follows Arn Magnusson (Joakim Natterqvist) as he is sent from a monastery to the Holy Land to fight as one of the Knight Templar’s to gain penance for a forbidden love interest. The film was originally released in Sweden and this film and its sequel were cut into one film after for a DVD release. The most expensive Swedish film to date, it is a realistic and epic tale that is engaging from the start.

11) Beowulf (2007)

This 2007 film, written by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary and based on the epic poem, follows the Geatish warrior, Beowulf, as he helps a King to slay a troll-like creature that he can’t stop from attacking his people. Beowulf does battle with the creature and sends him away injured, the thing’s mother then vowing to avenge her son. Ray Winstone stars as the title character in this motion-capture retelling of the legend, and the dark, fantastical qualities of it help it take its rightful place on this list.

10) The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

The Lord of the Rings trilogy, based on the fantastical, genre-defining books by JRR Tolkien and directed by Peter Jackson, were eight years in the making. The films came out in consecutive years, with The Fellowship of the Ring being released in 2001. They are set in Middle-Earth, a fantastical re-imagining of The Middle Ages, and the films boast a huge roster of fantastic actors that bring the tale to life. Following the hobbit, Frodo (Elijah Wood), on the beginning of his quest to destroy The One Ring, this film is full of medieval combat (and magic), conflict, suspense, and heartbreak. It is a love letter to the fantasy and medieval genres, and simply cannot be missed by fans of either!

9) The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

The second film of the trilogy, The Two Towers sees the fellowship broken and the odds seemingly stacked against the members who were forced their separate ways. Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) carry on their journey to Mordor, aided by a deceitful Gollum (Andy Serkis). As the power of darkness grows, Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) come across the kingdom of Rohan and its king, Theoden (Bernard Hill), who is under a dark spell. The action continues here at the fork in the road for the members of the fellowship, as they each must play their part in bringing about the end of Sauron’s restoration.

8) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

The finale of the award-winning trilogy follows the members of the fellowship again, as Aragorn attempts to lead the World of Men against Sauron’s army to try in order to buy Frodo and Sam some time to destroy the One Ring. The final battle between good and evil is arguably the best film of the trilogy, in this stunning adaptation of the book that has inspired generations of fantasy stories. The final film has combat, betrayal, tears, and humour and you’ll be heartbroken when it is all over… but there is always the Extended Edition!

7) Hamlet (1990)

Mel Gibson stars again on this list as the title character in the movie based on another William Shakespeare play of the same name, directed by Franco Zaffirelli. More political intrigue as Hamlet finds himself involved in a conspiracy of the throne in Denmark. Hamlet must feign insanity in order to take revenge, and Gibson does an excellent job of portraying this. There is action as you’d expect in a Gibson movie, but maybe not in a Shakespeare adaptation, which makes this a great watch. Zaffirelli is also said to have cut the source material in order to enhance the roles of the women in the film, which is only ever a good thing.

6) Last Knights

Clive Owen appears again in our list, delivering a performance as a vengeful warrior here. The film sees Owen star alongside his mentor, Bartok (Morgan Freeman) in the story based on the 47 Ronin tale. This film is full of action and has an engaging story of betrayal, revenge, and suspense, with very strong lead performances. The only complaint is that I'd have liked to have seen more of Freeman!

5) Dragon Heart (1996)

Sean Connery appears again in our list, starring alongside Dennis Quaid as the dragon, Draco. This medieval fantasy-adventure, released in 1996 and directed by Rob Cohen, sees the two actors form an unlikely alliance (and con villages out of their money) in an effort to try and stop an immortal king. The film had fantastic effects for the time, and is an enthralling, fun, fantasy adventure set in medieval times.

4) Tristan & Isolde (2006)

Based on a medieval romantic legend, Tristan and Isolde stars James Franco and Sophia Myles in the title roles, and directed by Kevin Reynolds. A story of star-crossed lovers from England and Ireland, and set in the Dark Ages, the film sees the two fall in love after Isolde nurses Tristan back to health. With Tristan being in line to the throne and Isolde belonging to the battling Irish, the two know that their love has no hope. This romance deserves its place on any medieval movie list.

3) The Eagle (2011)

The Eagle follows Roman centurion, Marcus Aquila (Channing Tatum) as he sets out to solve the mystery of his father and the five-thousand men he led’s disappearance, and find the Golden Eagle, this lost legion’s emblem. Taking only the young slave, Esca (Jamie Bell), they set out into unmapped land to restore Marcus’s father’s name but beyond Hadrian’s Wall lies secrets and savages for the pair to overcome before they find answers. A strong supply of combat and action make this film a must-watch.

2) Gladiator (2000)

Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix in the epic original film, Gladiator, released in 2000. The film follows Maximus, played by Crowe, as he is favoured by the Emperor, Marcus Aurelius (Robert Harris) to succeed him over his own son, Commodus (Phoenix). The power struggle that ensues leaves Maximus condemned to death by Commodus. After being saved by slavers and purchased to fight as a gladiator in the Colosseum, Maximus must rise up to the top for another chance at facing the man who left him to die. The film had a huge budget and delivers on every level. A great cast with strong performances, a Hans Zimmer score, and fierce battle scenes give this film its high place on this list.   

1) Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

Produced and directed by Ridley Scott, this epic film is a fictionalised retelling of the life of Balian of Ibelin, played by Orlando Bloom. It is set during the Crusades of the 12th Century and based around the Battle of Hattin, as Balian finds himself drawn into the East as a knight by his returning father. It is a film of historical fiction, religion, and virtue, and Ridley Scott is said to have received ‘thank you’ letters for the way the different religions in the film are evenly depicted. An easy inclusion on this medieval list.

Billy can be found dominating a game of Gwent in Novigrad or rifling through tomes in the libraries of Minas Tirith. He is almost certain he has magical powers, but they have yet to reveal themselves.
Gamer Since: 1998
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Path of Exile
Top 3 Favorite Games:Batman: Arkham Knight, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
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