ByDash Finley, writer at

This week saw the online premiere of the trailer to Aussie director Justin Kurzel's bold, visually stylized take on Shakespeare's Macbeth. Starring the great Michael Fassbender as the twisted Scottish king, this fresh new adaption spices up the Bard's classic play with some strikingly bad-ass slow motion battle scenes.

Since it might be a while until you get to see Macbeth--it's dropping October 2nd in the UK, but doesn't have a concrete release date elsewhere-- let's take a look back at some of the coolest swords-and-sandals battle sequences in recent memory.

Just to set up some parameters, pure fantasy movies don't count (no LOTR) and the film has to take place before modern weaponry (no World War II movies, etc).

Vindobona (Gladiator):

Maximus (Russell Crowe) leads his Roman legion into a frenetic clash against Barbarian tribes in the blistering opening scene of Ridley Scott's masterpiece:

The Beach of Troy (Troy):

Achilles (Brad Pitt) leads the invading Grecian army against a Trojan counter-attack in this pulse-pounding sequence from Wolfgang Petersen's unheralded 2004 epic:

Falkirk (Braveheart):

William Wallace (Mel Gibson) and his Scottish tribesman meet defeat at the hands of the evil English King Longshanks in this breathtaking depiction of medieval combat:

Thermopylae (300)

This brutal cold open to Zach Snyder's game-changing graphic novel adaptation set the tone for all Historical epics that followed with its CGI-rendered aesthetic:

The Siege of Jerusalem (Kingdom of Heaven):

The climactic sequence of Ridley Scott's woefully underrated Kingdom of Heaven sees fallen knight Balian (Orlando Bloom) defending the holy city of Jerusalem from Sultan Saladin and his massive army. The nearly 30-minute long melee that ensues is, to my mind, the absolute greatest battle sequence ever put to film:

So, there you have it, many of our greatest filmmakers have blessed us with some sweet, sweet sword clashin' action over the past two decades. Let's see how newcomer Kurzel fares later this year when Macbeth hits theaters.


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