“I challenge you to a duel…a lightsaber duel”
A lightsaber is defined as a melee weapon consisting of a blade made from pure plasma emitted from the hilt and suspended in a force contained field. It was first described as the weapon of the Jedi but it’s also used by their infamous enemies, the Sith. We like Sith and we like Jedi, but there’s only one way to find out who is better…FIGHT!
This one barely scraped into my list but not because of it’s incredible choreography – which is highly lacking – or the back and forth chemistry between it’s opponents. It’s really only here because of one thing; emotion. Not every Jedi or Sith are well versed in lightsaber combat, it takes time to create a bond with your weapon so that you can become one with it. By the time young Luke Skywalker faces his greatest foe, it’s clear he hasn’t formed much of a relationship with his lightsaber. Unlike Vader, who has had many years of experience wielding the deadliest weapon in the galaxy. Vader’s slow and powerful attacks are very different from his younger days before he was forced to wear the mask, but his emotions get the better of him when he finally utters those famous words, “I am your father.” It’s become one of the most iconic Star Wars moments and possibly one of the greatest in the history of cinema.
Before the prequels Yoda was a mysterious Jedi Master who only spoke in riddles and didn’t give much away. Little was known of his past and his rise within the Jedi Order. When we first meet him in The Empire Strikes Back he comes across as an eccentric old man waiting to die. That all changed when we went back in time before the Clone Wars and finally got to see Master Yoda in action. After turning to the dark side and dispatching – with relative ease – both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker on the planet Geonosis, Count Dooku – the former Jedi Knight turned Sith Apprentice – engages in one of the most talked about duels of the whole series with Yoda. At only a few feet tall, Yoda still doesn’t let his height disadvantage come into the equation, leaping and lunging high into the air with such pace it was hard to keep up at times.
Grievous was an enigma. The leader of the droid army always seemed to be running off somewhere when the risk of battle was approaching. So it was fairly surprising to see him finally decide to take on a Jedi, especially one held in such high regards as Obi-Wan. It was equally surprising when he dusted off his long cloak to reveal four robotic arms, all wielding lightsabers. Two would attack head on, two would spin around like saws. There was something very feral and animalistic about his movements. It was something unique that we hadn’t seen before and he gave Obi-Wan a great fight before being outsmarted and killed.
The very first lightsaber duel we ever see is also between these two great characters, although Anakin had ceased to exist and become Darth Vader. Many years long before that battle on the Death Star these two former friends battle it out on the molten lava-infested planet of Mustafar. Anakin has firmly been engrossed by the Dark Side having slayed many Jedi – including younglings – at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. Fuelled by anger, hate and jealousy, Anakin takes on his former mentor. It’s long, it’s emotional, it’s supremely choreographed, it’s lightning quick. It’s got it all. Coupled with the spine tingling score by John Williams and the atmospheric surroundings, it’s almost the greatest duel in the saga. Almost.
Darth Maul was the silent assassin. He didn’t need to speak many words, his look and demeanour told you everything you needed to know about him. He was not to be messed with. When he stepped up to the plate to take on both Obi-Wan Kenobi and his master Qui-Gon Jinn, nobody was giving him a chance. That was until he slipped out his double-bladed lightsaber and started doing cartwheel flips. Maul wasn’t just deadly with a blade, he was an expert in various martial arts fighting forms who could parry, feint and move with incredible agility. The duel is not only made by the quick, seamless attacks from both parties but also by the emotionally build up towards the end and of course the death of Qui-Gon. It’s mesmerising to watch but even more importantly it actually means something, it’s not just thrown in there to fill a gap or please fans. Despite the hate for the prequels, nobody can deny how perfect this duel is.
Gavin Logan – Follow me on Twitter