One of the best part of what makes Star Wars appealing is to wait for that exciting lightsaber duel. Whether that’s in the movies or the animated series, the choices are too numerous. Of the many, which one of them is the most memorable? Over the decades, fan films have also made their mark. With thanks to programs like Adobe Photoshop and After Effects making the animation process very easy.
The old rotoscoping method used in the original trilogy gave the plasma swords life which the prequel trilogy has never recreated quite as well. Refinements to the process gave that nuance back. After watching The Last Jedi yet again, I feel confident to offer my top five picks ranked in no particular order.
Yes, the obligatory spoiler alert is required as this latest film made the list. Credit has to be given to the Youtube folks who posted these clips and to the companies for not taking them down.
Star Wars: Rebels
“Twilight of the Apprentice”
Anyone who has followed The Clone Wars animated series will know about the relationship which developed between Master Skywalker (Anakin) and Padawan Ahsoka Tano. As that series came to an end, Tano left the order citing hypocrisy. Little did fans know at the time, these story points would come back to haunt many new Jedi masters (and certain old ones). Yes, it must be undone if a bright future for the galaxy is to take place.
Over the years, Tano became a free agent and in this return, she comes face to face with Darth Vader. Her battle reflects one of shock and revelation. Does she still stand by what he now represents or is there more at stake now?
The battle is heated and flashy. The force of good wields two silver blades than one (usually it’s the bad guys who do that), Lord of the Sith and deal with the best. He does not clearly beat her, but when the building itself crumbled with the two inside, everyone wants to know if Tano survived? Some fans like to think she did, but as for why this battle mattered shows how even loyalties are challenged to the bitter end despite the fact of who they were in the past.
Video posted by ARC Trooper TV
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Writer/Director Rian Johnson must have looked to Samurai Films and probably Kill Bill to get his inspiration for the Asian styled sentries who are the Royal Guards of Supreme Leader Snoke. They wielded weaponry capable of fending off saber attacks. The fight that takes place between them and Snoke’s enemies is just as wonderfully primal and raw as Kylo Ren and Rei faced off against each other in The Force Awakens (which deserves honourable mention). This time, they are [spoiler tape].
Plus, we see the lightsaber get used in ways previously unseen in past films.
No clip exists due to copyright held by Disney Studios / Lucasfilm. This movie is playing at a theatre near you.
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Despite the many complaints about this film’s narrative and choice to start with Anakin as a child, there’s no denying the introduction of Darth Maul with his dual bladed saber and the fight which ensued between Qui-Gon Jinn and a young Obi-Wan Kenobi is cool. Two Jedis could not beat a Sith. It had the intensity of everything Ray Park knew in his Martial Arts training to pull off welding two blades as one big stick to two actors / stunt people to make the cinematic product wild. Plus, the look of being sliced (off camera) made the impact all the more visceral.
Video posted by RedirectionReviews.
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
From the original trilogy, the marks have to go to the third film where Luke is fighting Vader after he telepathically learns there is a sister. Luke is on the edge of turning Sith; his rage fuels his ability to finally beat the Lord of the Sith down. What makes this fight memorable is the soundtrack which drives the emotional impact home. Plus, to hear Ian McDiarmid’s evil laugh at the blades make contact always send shivers down my spine every time I watch this film.
Video posted by Rodrigo Espindola.
Ryan vs Dorkman 1 & 2
Out of all the fan films made to spotlight lightsaber duels, this pair of shorts still stands the test of time. The story is simple: two online personalities come to head about who is the better effects artist on TheForce.Net’s FanFilms Forum. The fight escalates into a real-life “duel” and it’s very Highlander based. Since the duel takes place in a metal shop. There’s plenty of tools these Force wielders could use to toss at each other. Instead, they get physical.
The video editing work is very good, and the music scored for the second piece is original whereas the first was borrowed. Thankfully, George Lucas endorsed fan films so as long as there’s a creative commons license attached to these works. Both can be found on Youtube, or viewed together in one spot as per below.