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The best fantasy films on Netflix you haven't seen

From swashbuckling swordplay to supernatural sorcery, Netflix is a trove of hidden fantasy treasures just waiting to be discovered. You may have seen the big titles on the streaming service, like Pirates of the Caribbean or Stardust, but that's just the edge of the map as far as Netflix's fantasy selection is concerned. Whether your palate prefers fire-breathing lizards or you're more of a cursed tomb raider aficionado, Netflix truly has something for everyone.

And the deeper you dig, the more varied and original they get. Sword masters fighting demons for possession of their soul? You bet. Pirate ghosts with a sentimental side? Definitely. Vampire John C. Reilly tap dancing with his pet tarantula? We wouldn't expect any less!

So strap on your sandals and saddle your dragon, because we're heading off into uncharted lands to seek out the best Netflix fantasy films you should be watching. Warning: Here there be monsters.

Legend of the Naga Pearls (2017)

Centuries after an ancient war between two races — Humans and the Winged Tribe — led to a bitter defeat for the Winged Tribe and the loss of their ability to fly, one Winged descendant discovers a way to restore their former glory through mystical objects known as the Naga Pearls.

That's the start of the action-packed adventure in Legend of the Naga Pearls, which sees a common street thief and his CGI badger caught in the middle of the battle to take possession of the magical pearls. Whoever ends up with them could change the fate of the world. If that all sounds convoluted and ridiculous, don't worry — it is. But it's also a ton of fun for anyone who enjoys martial arts fantasy in all its CG-heavy, wire-fighting beauty. The main character, played by Darren Wang, offers enough comic relief to keep the movie from feeling too serious. Couple that with rollercoaster fight choreography and lavish, otherworldly set pieces, and you have yourself a fine adventure fantasy film.

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant (2009)

If we're all being honest with ourselves, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant looks downright horrible. From that overblown name to a release poster that looks like a student film parody of Twilight, there is nothing about this movie that would entice you to hit "play." But anyone who does give it a chance is in for a treat. With a diverse cast that includes John C. Reilly, Salma Hayek, Willem Dafoe, and Josh Hutcherson, The Vampire's Assistant is a bizarre mix of fantasy, horror, and comedy that offers one of the more original vampire movies of late.

After two friends sneak into a traveling freak show in their hometown, one of them becomes convinced that one of the performers is a real vampire. That fateful night leads to the two friends becoming bitter rivals in a secret vampire war. Even that description sounds terrible, but Vampire's Assistant pulls it off well enough to make for a unique viewing experience.

Dragonheart: Battle for the Heartfire (2017)

Somehow, like the slow creep of a respiratory infection, the 1996 fantasy adventure movie Dragonheart quietly became a franchise. Maybe it's because we live in a magical world, or maybe it's just because studios love them some sequels, but there are now four Dragonheart movies. They all follow the same basic premise: a dragon shares a heart with a human, and through their bond they save a kingdom, or something equally important. That's fortunate, because it means you don't need to catch up on any of the other sequels to understand what's happening in 2017's Dragonheart: Battle for the Heartfire.

This 2017 prequel to the original film sees a king pass away, leaving his dragon (voiced by Patrick Stewart) without a heart-buddy. It turns out that the king had two estranged grandchildren, though, both of whom exhibit dragon-like powers and go to war with each other over the throne. With its surprisingly realistic effects and surprisingly competent direction, Dragonheart: Battle for the Heartfire is just that: a surprise. You won't rave about it to your friends, but you'll be surprised just how much fun you have with it.

Mojin: The Lost Legend (2015)

Equal parts Indiana Jones archaeological adventure and supernatural epic, Mojin: The Lost Legend follows three grave robbers who are hired by a shadowy cult leader to search for the tomb of an ancient princess. To reach the tomb, they'll have to use their wits to make it through a series of increasingly dangerous challenges — but their destination may prove to be the deadliest part of it all.

You won't find many critics praising Mojin: The Lost Legend, but don't let that steer you away. While the plot may be bare-bones and the characters fairly one-dimensional, there's a lot of fun to be had in these underground catacombs as wave after wave of supernatural terror descends on our three protagonists. For visual spectacle alone, Mojin is worth a watch. If you get a kick out of archaeologists kung fu fighting undead demons, you're bound to have a good time with this movie.

Solomon Kane (2012)

When you look at Solomon Kane on Netflix, your heart says maybe while your brain just straight up says no. But this is one of those times when you can ignore your body and just dive right in. From surprisingly good production values to a stalwart performance by lead James Purefoy, Solomon Kane packs all the right punches and keeps them coming.

The story of a bloodthirsty pirate who turns to a life of peace after the devil tries to claim his soul, Solomon Kane is a rare combination of action, supernatural thrills, and fantasy that doesn't get too bogged down in the spectacle. Kane fights hellspawn demons and regular ol' bad guys in equal measure, but grounds the action with quieter glimpses into his own struggle to change his ways. The story is nothing to write home about, but critics found plenty to like about the movie — even if audiences barely gave it a second glance.

Pirate's Passage (2015)

For something on the lighter side, Netflix has the 2015 animated fantasy Pirate's Passage, which centers on a young boy named Jim in Nova Scotia who's visited by the ghost of an old pirate. After taking up residence in the failing inn owned by the boy's mother, the pirate ghost begins to help Jim and his mother with their problems. For such a low-key film, Pirate's Passage packs some surprising star power. Donald Sutherland, who also co-wrote the movie, voices the pirate ghost, and Carrie-Anne Moss provides the vocals for Jim's mother.

It's a story that has been covered many times before Pirate's Passage, but the comforting familiarity of the plot only serves to draw you in before the movie heads off in its own direction. There's plenty to enjoy here for the whole family, from high-seas action to ancient rivals, all centered around a heartwarming family drama. You won't be disappointed.

The Monkey King 2 (2014)

The epic Chinese novel Journey to the West has spawned numerous adaptations over the years, and while The Monkey King 2 isn't the best of them, it's possibly the most fun. And note that we're talking about the sequel here, although the first Monkey King is also on Netflix. While The Monkey King is enjoyable, the sequel is where the story really comes to life, following the titular Monkey King as he protects a traveling monk from supernatural threats.

Don't get us wrong — everything about these movies is supremely cheesy. But The Monkey King 2 loads that cheesiness with better visuals, better pacing, and a better overall story than its predecessor, making it a must-watch for anyone looking for a pure, unrestrained fantasy adventure. And true to form for these kinds of Chinese productions, the climactic battle is a visual menagerie of ridiculous CGI that alone makes this movie worth the price of admission. And since that admission price is zero to begin with, what do you have to lose?

Psychokinesis (2018)

In just a few short years, director Sang-ho Yeon's Train to Busan has become a modern zombie classic and a seemingly bottomless hidden gem that's continually being discovered by new audiences. With that kind of pedigree, you'd think that his 2018 fantasy/superhero mashup Psychokinesis would have made more waves, but sadly it slipped under the current for most people, despite being released as a Netflix original.

When a cluttered, despondent security guard unknowingly drinks water tainted by some sort of mystical meteor juice, he suddenly gains the power to move things around with his mind. With his newfound abilities, he sets out to protect his estranged daughter from a shakedown by a rival corporate tycoon and reconnect with the girl in the process. While it takes awhile to get going, Psychokinesis rewards viewers with an epic finale that makes the whole journey worthwhile, and proves again that Yeon is as skilled behind the camera as he is at writing, heartfelt, emotional stories.

Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned (2016)

For a twisted, mind-bending fantasy experience, look no further than Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned. This South Korean film opens with five children who stumble on a mysterious cave deep in the forest, where they find magical egg at the bottom of the lake. According to local legend, the egg holds a monster that can devour time. When the kids decide to break open the egg, they unleash an unexpected supernatural force that changes each and every one of them.

While the central premise of Vanishing Time has its basis in fantasy, the story that plays out afterward is a remarkably gripping drama about friendship, trust, and betrayal. It's a quieter, more brutal take on the fantasy genre — there aren't any flying dragons or sword fights here — but it's just as gripping as any action-packed spectacle you're likely to find on Netflix. Give it a chance and you won't be disappointed.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)

Terry Gilliam's films have always been more about artistic vision than mainstream appeal, with chaotic set designs, overblown production, and often inexplicable stories revolving around magic, adventure, and — most of all — insanity. The Monty Python alum has created cult classics and Oscar winners right alongside critical and box office failures (sometimes even in the same film), but there's one truth you can always bank on with one of this guy's movies: It's going to be crazy.

Enter The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, a unique fantasy adventure that most mainstream audiences missed in 2009, even while it snagged two Oscar nominations. The story of a traveling troupe of performers led by a man who's made a bet with the devil to see who can collect the most souls, Imaginarium straddles a thin line between magical surrealism and over-the-top goofiness, but to its credit, it never goes too far in either direction. Heath Ledger does a lot to keep the film grounded, even as it goes deeper and deeper into dreamlike territory. If you missed Imaginarium when it was first released, you should definitely give it a shot now that it's on Netflix.