Although there are many movies about the European theater, but there aren’t many movies about the Pacific. Here are the best WWII Pacific movies.
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World War II Pacific Movies
As Japan invades China in 1937, the brutal Nanking massacre is carried out by Japanese forces. During this time, many living within the Chinese capital fought to hide, seeking refuge wherever they could. This film follows John Miller, an American mortician stuck in the middle of this Sino-Japanese War attack alongside of a group of school girls and prostitutes all fighting for the same thing, freedom.
Conscientious objector Desmond Doss enlists in the Army as a combat medic soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Despite being bullied by his peers, he refuses to even hold a gun.
During the bloody Battle of Okinawa, Doss helped over 75 men reach safety by bringing them down the steep cliff Hacksaw Ridge overnight. After each man was brought to safety, Doss prayed, “Lord, help me get one more.”
He was the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor for his bravery and sacrifice. This film is incredibly gory, even more so than Saving Private Ryan in my opinion. It has very little profanity or sexual content. It is one of the best movies I have ever seen.
Gladys Aylward is rejected as an applicant to become a missionary in China simply because of her lack of education. Despite this, she pushes through, fighting to follow her calling. This film follows the young missionary as she pushes to share the love and passion she has with the people she’s being denied access to.
The Pacific is the counterpart to the 10 part epic Band of Brothers, which follows Easy Company in Europe during the war. This 10 part series follows a group of Marines between 1942-1945 in the Pacific. It’s gritty and like Band of Brothers, is rated R for a reason.
This film tells the account of the Battle of Iwo Jima from the perspective of the Japanese forces. Follow Private First Class Saigo and his platoon as they fight for their country with everything they’ve got. This film includes a lot of violence and heavier subjects concerning war.
While Letters to Iwo Jima portrays the Battle of Iwo Jima from the Japanese perspective, Flags of Our Fathers tells it from the U.S. side of the fight. This film recounts the events of the battle, but also follows Marine Private First Class, Ira Hayes, Private First Class Rene Gagnon, and Navy Corpsman John “Doc” Bradley as they navigate the war and their own personal struggles.
This biographical war drama film recounts the events leading up to the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor as well as the aftermath of the brutal strike. This 1970s movie is a less violent war film than others and is rated G.
The Ip Man trilogy follows the grandmaster of Wing Chun, a martial art practiced widely in China. The Japanese invasion of 1937 affects all in China including Ip and his family. This film describes the effects of the brutal invasion and how the Ip man played a part in lessening the blow to his area. If you love martial arts movies, this one is for you!
Set in a prisoner camp in Burma, this film portrays to horror of the prisoner of war experience, especially when railway work was included. Although, once a U.S Navy Commander escapes and is nursed back to help in a nearby village, the atmosphere of the Burma camp changes.
Eric Lomax, a British officer during the Second World War is capture by Japanese forces in Singapore being forced into a POW camp. While there, he’s forced to work on the Thai-Burma Railway and experiences all sorts of torture and struggles. This film follows Lomax’s experience as a POW as well as the aftermath of his trauma. It can be brutal at times but is an excellent story of forgiveness.
This version of the retelling of the Battle of Mount Austen portrays the experience of the C Company soldiers, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division of the United States Army as they fight to seize Guadalcanal from Japanese forces.
As a young boy, Louie Zamperini makes it into the 1936 Summer Olympics, setting the record for the 5000 meter race. Later, while serving as a bombardier in the U.S Army, he’s captured by Japanese forces and taken as a prisoner of war.
The film follows his story as he transitions from an Olympian with all the strength and courage in the world to a prisoner of war, struggling to survive. I didn’t enjoy the movie nearly as much as I loved the bestselling biography, but it’s still a worthwhile movie. It’s also rated PG-13 and does not have as much violence as other movies on this list. (There is also a Young Adult adaption of the book.)
This film follows Jamie Graham, a British schoolboy as he is separated from the rest of his family during the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces. For nearly the rest of the Pacific War, Jamie is lost, trying to not only survive and find his way back, but also trying to understand all that’s happening around him.
This Studio Ghibli film gives a different perspective to the Second World War as it follows the lives of Seita and Setsuko, two young children fighting to survive the affects of the attacks. The setting of the train and the mystery behind what the children really went through pulls viewers in to really experience what it was like to live in that area at the time.