We are mere days away from The Force Awakens, and whilst so much is unknown about the film, based on the trailer we know one thing; there will be lightsabers!
Of course the preferred Jedi weapon of choice frequently appears in the six Star Wars films so far, and the lightsaber battles are one of the big highlights.
In this very special blog featuring myself and my brother Matt, as guest blogger, we shall be ranking the main “showpiece” lightsaber battles from worst to best.
Matt wrote this fantastic piece on the Bond films for me recently, and like me, he is a huge Star Wars fan. You can find him on twitter (@matt246), so make sure you follow him and let him know if he is right or wrong in this ranking!
Enough of my rambling, ladies and gentlemen, I bring you…The Duel of the Siblings!
6. Matt – Obi-Wan Kenobi vs Darth Vader (A New Hope)
Talk about an anti-climax! In what could’ve been the showpiece of the movie, this battle actually turned out to be incredibly dull! Still a pivotal moment of the series, as Luke see his mentor and friend of about 2 days die (or does he???).
Sarah – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker & Yoda vs Count Dooku (Attack of the Clones)
The first time we shall disagree in this list, but hopefully this isn’t big enough to ruin Christmas for the Buddery family! I hate this lightsaber battle with a burning passion. I could get started on how much I hate the fact they made Yoda fight with a lightsaber but I’ll be here all day. All I will say is I feel like they did it for comedy, and it is completely unnecessary.
5. Matt – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker & Yoda vs Count Dooku (Attack of the Clones)
Obi-Wan and Anakin are both outclassed by Dooku, thanks mainly to Anakin’s inexperience and petulence. The fun starts when Yoda enters the battle! However the CGI is ridiculously over the top and it becomes very apparent you’re watching two computer characters fighting, which takes away a lot of the enjoyment.
Sarah – Obi-Wan Kenobi vs Darth Vader (A New Hope)
I ranked this higher than Matt did simply because of its significance. Yes it is an anti-climax, dull, and very one-sided. Yet it means so much. It is also really unexpected. I imagine people watching this for the first time back in 1977 thought Obi-Wan was probably going to be a really important character, that we would see him training Luke to be an amazing Jedi. Whilst he does continue to guide Luke, his death is still shocking and sudden, leaving the audience thinking, what will Luke do next?!
4. Luke Skywalker vs Darth Vader II (Return of the Jedi)
Matt – The reversal of the Empire Strikes Back battle, this time with Vader on the back foot as a more experienced Skywalker, goaded by the Emperor, shows off his skills and overcomes Vader.
Sarah – The climax of the original trilogy, and it’s a good one! It’s great to see the roles switched, and it is great to watch Luke in particular, who is at his peak. It is surprisingly emotional as well knowing what we know from the end of Empire Strikes Back, and the encouragament from Darth Sidious (“Good good, let the hate flow through you!”) keeps that sinister edge.
3. Obi-Wan Kenobi vs Anakin Skywalker (Revenge of the Sith)
Matt – Two warriors who are absolute equals, going completely all out to kill each other, all taking place on the volcanic planet of Mustafar. Visually stunning and compelling.
Sarah – Oh man this one is good. I love the fiery setting, and the fact that even though we know the outcome of the battle, it is incredibly tense and no one really has the upper hand. It’s anyone’s to win, and it is simply amazing!
2. Luke Skywalker vs Darth Vader (Empire Strikes Back)
Matt – Perhaps the most iconic lightsaber battle, and it certainly has the most iconic line of the series (“No Luke, I am your Father”). A great battle, Luke is not as inexperienced as Darth Vader thinks he is, but is always on the back foot to Vader who never at any point seems particularly bothered by Skywalker’s skills.
Sarah – YES. So much yes! I’m 75% sure I have watched this battle so many times I could re-enact both Vader and Luke’s lightsaber moves, and quote it word for word. Even the most casual of Star Wars fans will recognise this scene, and it will go down in history as one of the greatest movie moments of all time.
1. Obi-Wan Kenobi & Qui-Gon Jinn vs Darth Maul (The Phantom Menace)
Matt – AKA The Duel of the Fates, AKA the only good thing about this film! Beautifully scored by John Williams, the musical cue where the door opens to reveal Darth Maul, is just perfection. The real tragedy isn’t Qui-Gon’s death but that the brilliant Darth Maul is killed off before we have a chance to get to know/hate him, possibly the biggest mistake by George Lucas in the whole prequel trilogy. I’m still holding out for a Darth Maul spin off movie!
Sarah – It is curious that the greatest lightsaber battle should appear in a film which is well known for being terrible. I watched it again recently, and it is just perfection! As Matt already mentioned, the score is amazing, and I love the tension when the various characters are caught behind the laser gates, powerless to help and simply only able to watch in horror; just as the audience are! I’m still not over the fact they killed off Darth Maul. This is why Lucas can’t have nice things!
What do you think of our rankings? Do you completely agree or are we terribly misguided idiots who have got it all wrong? Please let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to share this post with your friends!
I was disappointed with the Yoda/Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker vs Count Dooku battle for the same reason I was always disappointed with Harry Potter. Anakin is the chosen one. The one who is to bring balance. He says himself that he’s as good as Yoda with a lightsaber, and you have to assume that’s a rare case of underestimation. Halfway through the battle they toss him a second lightsaber and I’m thinking, “Sit back and get ready to see something special!” Then, after about two seconds he loses the lightsaber, and the battle. Really?
I generally just hate the yoda lightsaber battles but yes I know what you mean with that one! One thing I disliked about the prequels was how they tried to make the lightsaber battles crazier and with more people each time. Think about the battle between Vader and Luke in Empire. It’s so simple. Beautifully shot, no frills, just an awesome battle! Let’s hope The Force Awakens takes its cues from the original trilogy and not the prequels!!
What I find fascinating about the prequels is that, for all the effort in making things as elaborate as possible, George Lucas didn’t go through with his original intention of hiring a Hong Kong fight choreographer to film the lightsaber battles.
The irony is that the man who he wanted (Sammo Hung) was more experienced as a sword master than the guy who was eventually hired (Nick Gillard). I think that this was a mistake because, among other things, the fight between Palpatine and the four Jedis showed an inability to choreograph group fights – bear in mind that a two-on-one sword fight, by comparison, is a walk in the park for H.K choreographers.
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Special mention for the most one-side battle in the franchise, the Younglings v Vader?