This world has never seen peace. In fact, ever since humans evolved to the point where they realised that they could have territories, the moment the idea of civilization came into their brains, the reason for war was produced. Take any century, any decade in fact, and you’ll find that in some part of the world, there were always two armies killing off each other. The war against terrorism, the war against communism, the war against the Nazis, the war against foreign forces, the war against the country on the other side of the hill — no matter how big or small, there has always been a reason for humans to indulge themselves in the bloodbath that never ends well for anyone. And yet, despite the misery of such times, we manage to make stories that inspire strength, heroism and perseverance. So, here’s the list of really good war movies on Hulu that are available to stream right now:
13. Operation Dunkirk (2017)
I wish I could start this list with Chris Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’, which is one of the most wonderful films about war, but Hulu hasn’t provided us with that luxury. So, we’ve got to make do with what we have. Stranded on the beach of France, for hundreds of thousands of soldiers, the Dunkirk evacuation was one of the instances where civilians played the saviours and rescuers, rather than the other way around. This movie uses that scenario but does not tell the story that you might come to expect from its title. It follows a group of soldiers who are assigned with a mission that might help to bring an end to the war, and to make it a success, they’ll have to pass through the enemy territory where one mistake would mean painful death for all of them.
12. Air Strike (2018)
During the Second World War, there were two categories in which every involved country placed itself. You were either an Allied power or the Axis. China and Japan were on the opposite side of each other which, obviously, made them enemy states. However, the war wasn’t the only time to incite animosity between the nations. There had always been discords between them and, if you know the history, the two sides had been warring with each other for a long time. The world war only amplified the conflict that was already there. In 1938, Japan came up with a new plan to make China weaker, which would ultimately make it bow to Japanese forces. A series of bombing operations began and they continued till 1943. It was a devastating time and because the attack was mainly aimed at civilian places, the death count was very high. ‘Air Strike’ captures the last year of the strikes.
11. Windtalkers (2002)
In the state of war, it is important for every party to develop their codes in such a way that the enemy can’t crack them; hence, not running the risk of any leak in the information. During the Second World War, the Americans used a unique code system with the help of the Navajo tribe. Since only they knew how to crack these newly formed codes, it became a lot easier for them to pass along information without the fear of it falling into enemy hands. Every Navajo marine was accompanied by another soldier for his protection. However, instructions were clear. If there was any chance of the marine being captured, he should be killed by his protector. The film follows the story of one such pair and what happens when they meet such a critical situation.
10. My Best Enemy (2011)
Watching a war movie can be a very exhausting experience. There is so much bloodshed and death and devastating stories that can really rip your heart apart. But who says that it all has to be so dark and heavy? ‘My Best Enemy’ presents a fresh approach, a reprieve even, by giving you a satire. Obviously, since those were dark times, don’t expect the film to be thoroughly uplifting. Because it is fiction (because who exactly was reveling in happiness at that time?), you might also find some things very impossible. But, for the most part, it is a rather fun film to watch. Set in 1938, it is just before Germany took siege of Austria. Victor Kaufmann is a Jewish man who is happily waiting for his German childhood friend, Rudi, to visit his family. Victor doesn’t know yet but Rudi is a Nazi now and the friendship is not the same anymore. The secret is that Victor’s family has a rare painting that had been stolen from the Vatican a very long time ago. The Germans want it so that they can return it to Italy and secure their support in the process.
9. Bitter Harvest (2017)
There are a lot of ways to kill people. If you start exploring the possibilities, mass killings will not seem so difficult, after all! One of the people who got creative at that was Hitler. He might have been the best at it, but he wasn’t the only one who tried such a feat. Stalin was responsible for the death of millions of Ukrainians and he didn’t even have to build concentration camps for that. All he did was allow the people to be starved to death. ‘Bitter Harvest’ focuses on this time in Ukraine’s history and shows how the collectivization campaigns effectively lead to mass starvation. If you majorly depend on films to teach you history, this is a good opportunity to familiarise yourself with another instance where a political move claimed a great number of lives.
8. Flyboys (2006)
Loosely inspired from real events, ‘Flyboys’ stars James Franco as an American who voluntarily joins the French Air Service during the First World War. The supporting cast includes Martin Henderson, Jean Reno, Jennifer Decker and Abdul Salis. Even before America actively became a part of the war, a good number of Americans had already enlisted through various platforms, the French army being the most popular choice. Set in 1916, the film starts with a group of men making their way to France and joining the war, owing to their own feelings about it. They are trained by the French to become fighter pilots and the rest of the film focuses on how their stories end. As one can expect from a war movie, not everyone makes it out alive. ‘Flyboys’ uses a diverse cast to address various issues, including the racial prejudice in the army at that time.
7. Where Hands Touch (2018)
Set in 1944 Germany, ‘Where Hands Touch’ tells the story that is rarely touched upon or even discussed by filmmakers while considering the options of basing films on this time. It doesn’t give a new perspective to the situations that you have already witnessed in other films, nor does it try to change anyone’s status quo when it comes to recognizing heroes, villains and survivors. In fact, this is all uncharted territories and hence, a great choice if you are willing to explore new stuff. The protagonist is a biracial girl. Daughter of a German mother and an African father, Leyna had already a lot to worry about before Hitler decided to make Germany great again! She falls in love with Lutz, a boy who has recently become a member of Hitler Youth and has a father serving a prominent position in the SS. As the persecution of Jews begins, she wonders about her own fate in such unpredictable times.
6. Wolf Warrior 2 (2017)
One of the things that war movies is aimed at is to access the sense of patriotism in the viewers. No matter how good, bad, or convoluted the protagonist is, as long as he is fighting against villains like the Nazis, he is doing great. It is easy to root for a character when you know that they are up against an evil force. China has its fair share of such movies, and ‘Wolf Warrior 2’ is one of them. As opposed to a lot of other films on this list, it is not inspired by true events, and if you are being too strict about the genre, it isn’t particularly a war movie. Still, it has a soldier, ready to singlehandedly take down the worst people in the world, so we can be a bit lenient then! The film met with huge success on its release and eventually became China’s official entry for Academy Awards last year.
5. A Perfect Day (2015)
The threat to Europe’s peace didn’t end with the Second World War. There were at least a couple more instances in which some sections came very close to launching the world into another violent frenzy. You could say that the Yugoslav Wars were one of those times. Even though it was resolved with accords and freedom of the conflicting parties, which eventually led to the formation of new states, it was one of the tensest times in the continent. There might not have been an all-out show of war, but a great number of lives were lost in the process and some heinous crimes were committed. But, ‘A Perfect Day’ isn’t about all those things. At least, not directly. In fact, it is set around the time that the war was almost over and done with. The film stars Benicio del Toro and Tim Robbins and follows the story of a group of people who try to take a corpse out of a well before its water turns poisonous.
4. The 12th Man (2017)
Based on a true story, ‘The 12th Man’ tells the tale of a Norwegian commando’s escape from the Gestapo forces. Trained by the British, Jan Baalsrud was a member of Company Linge. In one of their missions in Germany-occupied Norway, the team was betrayed by a local to Germans, which eventually led to the death of the whole team with only Baalsrud surviving. He had to face the harshest of circumstances, amputating his own body parts, and relying on other loyal locals to help him out of the territory.
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3. Their Finest (2016)
What do you need the most to fight a war? Soldiers. You need people who can voluntarily come to you and say that they’re ready to fight for whatever your cause is. Once the war actually begins and people begin to witness its horrors, it becomes even more important to boost their morale; hence, the rousing speeches by the leaders. In World War II, the British, just like most other countries, including Germany, decided to make films which would uplift the nation’s patriotism. ‘Their Finest’ tells the story of the team that was involved in the making of one such film.
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2. Tangerines (2013)
For a span of more than a year, Georgia was in conflict with Abkhaz forces backed by Russia. Having only recently separated from the Soviet Union, it was a difficult time for Georgia and it resulted in a heavy economic loss, along with the human casualties. Academy Award-nominated film, ‘Tangerines’ is set during this period. Margus and Ivo are the only ones left in their village as the rest of them fled to Estonia after the war began. The reason for their stay is that Margus is waiting to harvest his tangerine crop. But before that can happen, some Chechens and Georgian soldiers get into a fight. One from each side is left alive, and Margus takes them both in to care for them, lest they die of their wounds. Living under the same roof, how will two enemies keep themselves from killing each other?
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1. Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
No matter how much you use your imagination to understand what war is like, it will never come close to the true horrors of it. Only a soldier can tell you what it’s actually like, and you can expect it not to be a pretty picture. This film shows the arc of a man’s thoughts about wars before and after he serves in one. Based on Ron Kovic’s autobiographical novel of the same name, ‘Born on the Fourth of July’ stars Tom Cruise in the lead role. It tells the story of Kovic, a Vietnam War veteran who became an anti-war activist after his experiences in the war. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning a couple of them, and was also a huge commercial success.
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