Friday, May 4, 2012

KGB Classic Top 5: Lightsabers Duels of the Star Wars Saga

Today is May the 4th, which means it's Star Wars Day! In order to celebrate we're re-running a KGB Classic from friend of the site Adam Marcey, who has a lot to say about what's what with those laser swords. Here are his own, personal, Top 5 Lightsaber Duels!

Now let’s get a few things straight. First, I’m talking about lightsaber duels that you see in a live action Star Wars movie, not any of the animated series. Secondly, the prequel trilogy sucked. But all suck-assness aside, there were some great lightsaber duels throughout the entire Star Wars Saga. So here we go.

5) Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader - Return of the Jedi

The original trilogy was far better than the prequel trilogy, but the one element the original lacked was a well-choreographed lightsaber duel in comparison to the prequels. However, when you put all 6 movies together, this duel in Return of the Jedi is really what the entire movie saga culminated into. It was the final confrontation between father and son, good and evil. As Darth Vader egged on Luke near the end, Luke actually has to tap into the Darkside and focus his rage on Vader to defeat him. It also makes you question the prophecy of the force revealed in Episode 1: Was Anakin Skywalker really the chosen one who will destroy the Sith, seeing that he redeems himself and destroys the Emperor? Or is Luke the chosen one for bringing out the good in Vader, allowing the Sith to be destroyed? However you look at it, this duel is the end-all of the saga.

4) Yoda vs. Count Dooku - Attack of the Clones

A lot of Star Wars purists may disagree with me on this, seeing that the Yoda you thought you knew turns into a crazy, lightsaber wielding pin ball, but this duel was great. I think it shows you exactly why Yoda is the most powerful Jedi to ever live. He squares off with a Dark Lord of the Sith and pretty much tells him to take his lightning hands and force powers and shove them up his you-know-what. And when Count Dooku says that their knowledge of the force won’t be what decides the battle, but their skills with a lightsaber, I think everyone in the theatre began to cheer and geek-out when Yoda pulls out his lightsaber. Exciting stuff.

3) Obi-wan Kenobi vs. Darth Maul - The Phantom Menace

Finally, we get to see what can happen when you add a world-class stuntman and great fight choreography to a Star Wars movie. Darth Maul was probably one of the best sci-fi villains ever created, but you don’t really see him do too much until this fight with Obi-wan and Qui-Gon. And what a fight it turns out to be. Although Darth Maul kills Qui-Gon, the fight doesn’t reach its climax until Obi-wan steps in afterwards. The fight is fast-paced and fluid, if not brutal. And besides top lightsaber duel #2, Obi-wan is a disappointment throughout the prequels, and his duel as an old man in Episode 4 is dreadful. But this fight shows what he can really do.

2) Obi-wan Kenobi vs. Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader) - Revenge of the Sith

This duel was probably the most anticipated moment for the super-fans (super-geeks?) of Star Wars when it came to the prequels. All of the back story you could read in novels and character guides described how Darth Vader came to be. It described a confrontation with Vader and Kenobi after Kenobi discovers Anakin has fallen to the Darkside. The only information you get is that Obi-wan defeats Vader and leaves him for dead in a lava pit, which explains why Vader his hidden by a suit of armor and has trouble breathing. But this scene puts it all together, and the duel is nothing but epic. The fight starts with an emotional moment where Obi-wan realizes Anakin can’t be saved, and the fight rages on for a long time. A great ending to a crappy movie.

1) Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader - The Empire Strikes Back

Why is this number 1 you ask? Empire was arguably the best Star Wars movie, if not one of the greatest movies ever made. The first lightsaber duel we ever saw, in Episode IV was horrible, so this duel was a pleasant surprise. Also, plot-wise, this duel made the most sense. It’s the first step Luke takes to fulfill his destiny. He shows Darth Vader that he won’t be a push-over, and that he can give Vader a run for his money. It’s epic in that Vader eventually overpowers Luke with his skills with a lightsaber while simultaneously hurling objects at him with the force. Vader reveals his true feelings towards the Emperor when he asks Luke to join him and destroy the Emperor. And of course, Vader reveals that he’s Luke’s father, right after chopping his hand off. Lack of choreography aside, this fight is what ties the original trilogy together.

And now, the Top 5 crappy ones:

5) Obi-wan Kenobi vs. Darth Vader - A New Hope

Let’s see: this fight was clumsy and awkward. Vader should have made mincemeat out of old-man Kenobi, but doesn’t kill him until Obi-wan “lets” him do it. There was nothing exciting about this fight and it could have been improved in every single way.

4) Obi-wan Kenobi vs. General Grievous - Attack of the Clones

Grievous is supposed to be a Jedi killer and you figured would have given Obi-wan a good fight, but the actual duel lasts about a minute and ends when Obi-wan easily dispatches two of Grievous’ hands. Then it turns into a high-speed chase which leads to Obi-wan killing Grievous with a blaster. What?

3) Yoda vs. Darth Sidious - Revenge of the Sith

The most powerful Jedi versus the most powerful Sith Lord should be nothing but epic, not a limp, wet noodle like this fight. What it really leads up to is Yoda and Sidious throwing things at each other and then Yoda giving up and deciding to go into exile. What? Quitter. Kind of contradictory to his wise teachings in The Empire Strikes Back, don’t you think?

2) Mace Windu vs. Darth Sidious - Revenge of the Sith

This fight starts with Sidious easily killing three members of the Jedi council, which is ridiculous, and then it looks like two old men are fighting each other off with their canes or walkers. There’s a lot of staring, then a couple swings, then some circling, more staring, a couple swings and repeat until Windu gets the Emperor on his back. The he should have killed him immediately, but of course he doesn’t. Lame.

1) Obi-wan Kenobi/Anakin Skywalker vs. Count Dooku - Revenge of the Sith

Just watch it. It’s awful.

Adam Marcey is KGB's resident dude-bro gamer.  Show him some love       in the comments!


  1. Oh wow, I don't really agree with #5 in the crappy list. It's an incredibly important part of the series. Before Lucas went batshit with ridiculous acrobatics, nuance actually was important. I'm glad he never fucked around with that scene in the many edits of the special editions... one of the few things he's done right, post-jedi.

    1. I agree that's it's good that it didn't go overboard. But that first duel was when lightsaber fights were supposed to be similar to fencing. As both Alec Guiness and David Prowse took extensive fencing lessons on-set. Even the Darth/Luke duels in ESB and RotJ were still more tactical than the prequel battles. I blame Crouching Tiger and the like for making Lucas think that the fights had to be choreography based, rather than emotion based. If you had a weapon capable (and likely) to cut off your body part when you're doing flips and shit, you're probably going to be pretty careful with it. That's another one of the major problems with the Padawan Lightsaber course scene in RotS. Why the fuck would you give 30 kids lightsabers, blind them, and just have them lackadaisically swing those shits around in a small room? It's dumb, and doesnt make any sense. The prequels trilogy completely removed any and all mystique that the lightsaber had.