300 is a movie about the battle of Thermopylae in 480BC, based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel. More so, it creates an image of the attitudes and ideals of one of the most feared and skilled armies in the history of our planet – The Spartans!
The movie starts with an introduction into the upbringing of a Spartan man.
At birth they are inspected with only the most physically healthy specimens being kept. From childhood they are trained in combat, and put through rigorous tests and punishment to toughen them up for a lifestyle as a Spartan warrior. As all Spartan’s were soldiers by trade first, they were professional fighters and warriors more so than most other armies.
When the freedom of the Spartan’s is threatened by The Persian Army, a gigantic combination of all the nations conquered by Xerxes, the king of Sparta Leonidas (Gerard Butler), decides that something must be done to fight off an invasion and save Sparta.
However, as King of Sparta there are still channels Leonidas must go through to see this happen. As king he does not have limitless power, so he does what he sees necessary to gain approval to send an Army north and fight the Persian Army – and he is rejected.
To avoid any legal trouble or being thrown in jail, Leonidas works around the corruption that prevented him from sending his army north and puts together a group of Sparta’s finest 300, to ‘go for a stroll’ and ‘stretch their legs’. Leonidas and the loyal 300 men head off to Thermopylae and make their stand – using superior strategy and fighting skill to make themselves a complete nightmare for the Persians.
But after a few victories his 300 men and the accompanying Greeks have had against the millions of Persians Xerxes brought upon them Leonidas starts to wonder if an actual victory is possible. So the men fight on in hopes of defeating ‘The Giant that is Xerxes’ Army‘.
This movie has got such an energy behind it that it’s hard to ignore!
The Spartan’s are introduced as a race of ‘men’s men’. Tough and unrelenting, they never retreat or surrender – with ultimate glory in their life being to die on the battlefield for the state. The tiny amount of men Leonidas commands obliterates the armies that Xerxes send, despite being ridiculously outnumbered.
Leonidas and his men are utterly fearless in front of their enemies.
It’s hard not to be motivated by the presence they have on screen. backed by the storytelling of Dillios (David Wenham), you’re left with an unbreakable image leaving you in complete awe of the Spartans and especially Leonidas.
Although the historical accuracy is skewed, the core message and inspiring reality of this battle (and the victory inspired by it a year later) are caught and represented in a symbolic way that immortalizes the Leonidas and Spartan army in a way previously unseen, with power and grunt behind each and every single character behind a Spartan shield.
The Action & Martial Arts
Some may not think this is a martial arts movie.
Many have the belief that a ‘martial arts’ movie would mean the Asian arts – but martial arts is a term used for ‘combative arts’ across all nations and this movie is a perfect example of a to martial arts film, demonstrating many various levels of Spartan fighting and military strategy.
The Spartan shield, spear and short sword were their tools of the trade, and the choreography of this film shows the Spartan fighting movements quite well from a technical point of view. Watching some shots of the Spartan army attacking in unison at the beginning was very military and looked absolutely fantastic. The entertainment value is quite high despite how technical it all is!
Unlike most Hollywood films with choppy over cut action scenes, this film does have it’s fair share of long shots involving fantastically choreographed fights, shot in one piece using a mixture of slow-motion and sped up frame rates to create an awesome flow.
The moves are so precise and performed brilliantly by not stunt men – but actors! Simply watch Leonidas mow through a handful men during the first battle and you’ll see the kind of high quality battle choreography I’m talking about.
Mixed with shots and scenes that simply make a powerful statement about the Spartan fighting skill, this movie is as good a martial arts action film as any!
Beyond the action right in front of you is the statement on battle / fighting itself and the overall strategy that was actually used by the Spartans. Using their small numbers and recognizing their vastly superior fighting ability, using ‘The Hot Gates’ of Thermopylae, they thinned out the amount of men that could actually attack the Spartan’s front line at any given time, removing the advantage of numbers.
Beyond that was Leonidas’ intention of swaying the minds of the council and the Spartans back home with such a stand. This is another military strategy used not on Xerxes, but his own men to compel them into motion.
The attitude as discussed above is a fighter’s ‘never say die’ attitude. Put forward a sign of absolute strength, and unwillingness to retreat and never be defeated and you’ll defeat your enemy before the fight as even begun.
This movie is unbelievable, packed with messages and themes for any fighter, martial artist or man in general. The action is not just told through choreography but words and momentum of story and Spartan charisma.
As a Martial Arts film it’s pretty good and definitely earns a decent spot on the list. Viewing it as a movie outside of the ‘Martial Arts’ genre boundaries it’s still absolutely fantastic – there’s a reason it’s one of my favorites.
Watching this movie motivates you and gives you the drive to achieve something great. So I cannot state how much I think everyone needs to see this movie! It’s fantastic.
On Blu Ray –
Region Free (Plays Anywhere)
300 [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Region A (US & Canada)
On DVD –
Region 1 (US & Canada)
Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
Region 4 (Australia, New Zealand, etc)
300 on DVD