Star Wars is a franchise where there's many awesome things about it. Cool ships, incredible looking worlds to visit, awesome looking aliens (and some not-so-awesome looking) and a plethora of memorable and engaging characters that make this galaxy worth exploring in all the Star Wars media, both mainstream and spin-off. But for many of us, some of the coolest things to come out of Star Wars is of course, the lightsaber duels. Everyone loves a good swordfight and Star Wars is no exception. Whether it's a Jedi and a Sith duking it out with their laser blades or a Jedi duking it out with a four-armed cyborg, lightsaber battles are often some of the highlights in Star Wars media and give us many of the franchise's most exciting and memorable moments. And to celebrate Star Wars Day, I've decided to count down the Top 10 Best Lightsaber Duels. What better way to celebrate May the 4th, eh? XD
But I'm not doing this alone. This is a task that one Jedi can't handle by himself, so I'm teaming up with my good friend and another fellow Star Wars fan. Let's give a warm welcome to Thomas Holmes everybody!
(Thomas walks in, clad in his knight armour)
Thomas: "Greetings and salutations, friends and readers and fans! I am Thomas Holmes II and I'm glad to be here! I thought I'd dress up in my Knight armour in honour of the occasion. And it so happens I have a lightsaber of my own."
(He ignites it)
Thomas: "The signature weapon of the Jedi and the Sith, this elegant weapon of a more civilised age has wowed audiences ever since Luke first ignited his father's lightsaber in 1977."
(He deactivates his weapon)
Thomas: "So it is a privilege to talk about the best lightsaber duels in the franchise with you, Media Man."
Media Man: Pleasure's all mine, buddy.
So what are the lightsaber duels that are worthy of a Jedi's skills? What are the duels that impacted the franchise the most when they happened? May the force be with us, readers, for we're going to count them down...
Number 10: Rey and Kylo vs. Praetorian Guards
Now before anyone gets triggered and flies into a blind rage, no, just because this fight is on the list it doesn't mean I like The Last Jedi. It's a movie that is riddled with holes and plotting issues thanks to being directed by a man who prioritized subverting expectations over telling a good story and The Rise of Skywalker only made the movie worse by failing to follow up on its plot points in a meaningful way. This fight is one of the few good things that anyone can ever say about The Last Jedi and is by far the only lightsaber duel in the entire sequel trilogy that I'd say is good. If there's anything I really didn't expect in this movie, is that Snoke would have somewhat competent guards. Not only do they have pretty awesome weapons, but they give both Rey and Kylo a tough time throughout the battle to the point where it takes the two of them just to even keep up with the guards! When's the last time mooks in a Star Wars movie were ever this much of a threat?
Thomas: "One of the things that makes this duel awesome is that it's essentially the culmination of Rey and Kylo's relationship in the film. It's always interesting when enemies team up, and this is no exception!
"The choreography in this fight is excellent! The characters use everything from weapons to fists to even their own armour in the case of the guards!"
Media Man: And given there's so many of the guards to battle, the fight gets VERY chaotic with a lot of action and destruction going on as Rey and Kylo fight the guards together. It's one of those fights where even their surroundings get used to their advantage, particularly that poor guard that ends up chopped to bits when he's knocked down a hole.
Even though Rey and Kylo win in the end, it's not a one-sided fight as the Praetorian Guards manage to land some hits on the two and have them genuinely struggling just to defeat them and given how many guards there are, it almost gives the impression that they're against a horde of cockroaches: no matter how many they stomp on they just keep coming.
Despite being an awesome fight, it's only at Number 10 because it's not that impactful a fight to the overall plot of its movie. I mean all the impactful stuff like Kylo killing Snoke happens before the battle starts and when this battle's over, what really changes going forward? Rey and Kylo fight over Anakin's old lightsaber and break it but I wouldn't really call that impactful as it only gets fixed in the next movie.
Thomas: "Well, Kylo Ren does assert himself as Supreme Leader of the First Order. Plus, it's kinda refreshing to see Ren not immediately redeem himself; he saved Rey, yes, but only so they could rule together. He was choosing his own destiny; or at least, he thought he was in the long run…
"But regardless of its overall impact, this fight makes you wonder: why can't we have more mooks and henchmen like the Praetorian Guards? Tough and badass rather than bumbling and cartoony?"
Media Man: True that. Still, the sequel trilogy was a hot mess, but at least that in its one moment of glory, it gave us this fantastic battle...
Number 9: Maul vs. Pre Vizsla
Expect this to be the first of many Darth Maul battles that'll end up on this list because somehow, this Zabrak warrior seems to make any lightsaber battle he's in completely epic...well except for his battle with Obi-Wan in Rebels that is.
This duel is part of an arc that sees Darth Maul and Savage Oppress teaming up together to create their own army of criminals in order to seize power and they take their battle to Mandalore in which Darth Maul duels Pre Vizsla for the right to rule over the terrorist Death Watch group. Needless to say, Pre's way in over his head for this duel but damn it all if he didn't give it his best shot before going down!
Thomas: "Typically, lightsabers are best wielded by those who can actively call on the Force, but Pre Vizsla is one of the few exceptions, wielding the unique Darksaber with its black blade.
"Now, usually, a Force-wielder, especially a Sith, would simply use the Force to crush a non-wielder instantly. But Maul, for his madness, still has some honour, fighting only with his blade and his fists. This makes the duel all the more intense and even somewhat realistic.
"Vizsla pulls out every trick he can do; he slashes with his saber, fires with his blasters, shoots with his fire thrower, flies with his jet pack, punches and kicks and even manages to scratch Maul's face! And the Zabrak manages to counter each one without using the Force (the occasional physical enhancement not withstanding)."
Media Man: Throughout the duel, you get the idea that Maul's just toying with Pre as he KNOWS he could slice him in half in a millisecond and yet he goes throughout the fight without using the Force to screw over Pre in any way. And despite Pre using as much of his arsenal as possible, it still feels as if at best he's just being an annoyance to Maul and that Maul is just way out of his league. When you consider that Maul beats Pre without using the Force and even managed to take him out whilst unarmed, it makes you wonder how this fight would've gone if Maul was at his best.
All this plus some fantastic choreography really makes this one heck of a brawl and it's one that has far reaching consequences for the galaxy moving forward. Mandalore is no longer the peaceful planet it once was, Death Watch falls under Darth Maul's control, Duchess Satine ends up killed by Maul, the Mandalorians end up at war with one another and come The Mandalorian, we see that things still haven't looked up for the Mandalorians as Bo Katan and some of her loyal followers are still nothing more than a splinter group and another group of Mandalorians (one of them being Din Djarin) are just doing what they can to stay alive in a post-Empire world. And all of this because Darth Maul seized control of Death Watch in his mad bid for power...
Thomas: "A good fight always has lasting influence. And all that isn't the only impact, as you'll see later on in this list. ;)
"Maul vs Pre Vizsla: a testament to why Force wielders should never be trifled with…"
Number 8: General Grievous vs. the Jedi
"The Clone Wars micro series, courtesy of cartoon legend Genndy Tartakovsky, was loaded with awesome moments, and this was no exception. This was the official debut of the deadly CIS Droid Commander, General Grievous. And boy, does it makes an impact…"
Media Man: No kidding, mate. First of all, the build-up feels like a damn horror movie! We hear Grievous's voice calling out for surrender but we don't see him whatsoever and the Jedi are just left anticipating his arrival. One who humorously bears a resemblance to Shaggy of Scooby-Doo fame loses his composure and charges out into battle...and then gets flattened by Grievous. The audience and the Jedi get to see what they're up against for the first time: a tall cloaked cyborg creature who not only looks very fast and powerful, but wields lightsabers too!
We then get the battle itself and thanks to the fantastic animation of Genndy and his team, it's really friggin' awesome to watch with Grievous being the star of the show here. He's constantly leaping around, using his feet to wield lightsabers as well as his hands, spinning his body or hands around and just tossing the Jedi around like rag-dolls! It's insane to watch and honestly makes me wish that the General Grievous we got in the movies and the 3-D Clone Wars would do awesome stuff like this.
So if the battle's this epic to watch and gives Grievous a solid introduction, why is it only at Number 8 on the list? Well...the fans tend to overhype this battle a little and even ignore the context behind it just to make this version of Grievous look better. Grievous is only doing as well as he did here because he's against five exhausted Jedi. If these Jedi were at their prime, it'd be a VERY different story...
Thomas: "Furthermore, Grievous had them backed into an area where he had an advantage, AND he was an unknown entity. So the Jedi didn't know what he could do. Take all that away, and while there is no doubt in our minds that Grievous would've put up a great fight, he would ultimately have lost. In fact, most of Grievous' victories owe themselves to surprise, enemy fatigue or both.
"We're not saying Grievous isn't awesome, because he is. We're just saying this fight is seriously over-inflated.
"Nevertheless, this fight is awesome! It introduces Grievous into the war, establishes him as a serious threat and features the death of some Jedi (though K'Kruhk actually fakes his death here). And it leads to the Council to Knighting Anakin Skywalker, to better combat this new threat."
Media Man: Introducing an iconic new character in a badass new way, this fight was always going to leave a lasting impression on the fandom...
Number 7: Asajj Ventress and Night Sisters vs. Count Dooku
There's no doubt about it: Count Dooku is one of the most badass and powerful Sith in Star Wars history. This fight shows us exactly why and to me is Dooku's crowning moment of awesome. Why is that? Let's explain:
First we need some context for the battle. Chancellor Palpatine fears that Asajj will grow too powerful and be a detriment to their plans so he orders Dooku to kill Asajj. When that fails, Asajj travels back to Dathomir where she meets with Mother Talzin in a plot to get revenge on Dooku for his attempt on her life. She joins up with two Nightsisters and is given a potion that renders her and the Nightsisters invisible to try and make it harder for Dooku to fight them. They then inject him with a toxin that further clouds his vision to make it harder for him to fight now he can't see them. Does that stop the mighty Darth Tyrannus? LIKE HELL IT DOESN'T!!!
Thomas: "Dooku is a legendary sword master, having trained under Yoda himself, and instructed several students in the ways of the blade, including Grievous. And his skills are on full display here.
He deftly pinballs between his three adversaries, even disabling one of the Nightsisters early in the fight. Notably, he spends most of the fight with his eyes closed, and generally employs one-handed saber moves. Elegant, graceful and precise; befitting a sophisticated Count like him.
"So let me just give the details: Count Dooku, a Human over 80 years, can easily fight three opponents, one-handed WITH HIS EYES SHUT!!!
But in fairness, to Ventress and her Sisters, they fare relatively well too."
Media Man: Oh yes. Asajj and the Nightsisters keep Dooku on his toes throughout the battle and even though Dooku is clearly the superior warrior, they are still operating with tactical advantages so it's no easy fight for the Count. I also applaud the girls on fighting smart in this battle by using blue and green lightsabers so Dooku thinks he's up against Jedi and thus has no idea who he's actually against, which helps Asajj in keeping up the pretence that she's dead so Dooku's even less prepared for this sneak attack.
And in the end, the Nightsisters overpower Dooku and have him cornered and disarmed with no hope of survival. Dooku even seems to accept defeat and then just as Asajj raises her lightsaber to make the killing strike...we get the ultimate "GOTCHA!" moment in all of Star Wars when Dooku just lightning forces the crap out of his assailants and throws them all out a window. Let me tell ya, THAT was easily the most badass moment of Dooku's entire career!
As far as impacts go, this fight may not seem as important at first but when you consider what happens next, this is one that is definitely far-reaching in terms of consequences. Because of this fight, Dooku wants another apprentice which leads to Mother Talzin setting up Savage Oppress for him as a new tactic to take him down, which then leads to Savage tracking down Darth Maul, which then leads to the Zabrak brothers teaming up and carrying out their scheme that sees them take over Mandalore and all the stuff that goes on after that while Grievous and his Droid army go on to slaughter the Nightsisters clan, which also gives us Merrin's story in the Jedi Fallen Order game and Asajj would go on to spend the rest of her life as a bounty hunter before dying at Dooku's hands in order to save Quinlan Vos from his wrath. So yeah, this wasn't just one quick fight and that was it!
Thomas: "Pretty remarkable just what can ensure from what seems at first to be a failed mission. And certainly a more tragic and conclusive fate than Asajj just fleeing the war with no confirmed fate in Legends, in my opinion...
"This duel is why you should never underestimate your elders, especially when they're a Sith. And speaking of elderly Sith...
Number 6: Darth Sidious vs. Maul and Savage
"Yep, we're back to Maul for the next three entries. This time, he and his brother Savage are facing Maul's old Sith Master, Palpatine, also known as Darth Sidious. That's right, the big bad of the Skywalker Saga himself turns up in person to dirty his own hands, rather than leave it to someone else."
Media Man: This fight is a real treat for us as this one of the very rare times we ever see Darth Sidious in a fight, and needless to say he really shows us why he's the ultimate Sith Lord! Throughout the fight, he's just effortlessly keeping up with the Zabrak brothers while wielding two lightsabers (which begs the question of why he never does that anywhere else, only in this fight) and moving around at lightning speeds, which is impressive for a man at his age, and he's even laughing a few times throughout the battle. It's so clear that he's just toying with the two and doesn't see either of them as a serious threat, and keep in mind he's up against DARTH MAUL, a guy whom we know is no pushover! Then again, he's the man that trained Maul so he knows what he's capable of.
Savage sadly is the weak link here as he can barely even touch Sidious throughout the fight and is effortlessly dispatched. His death is surprisingly sad to watch though, especially with his final words being about how he was never as good as Maul was. Hard to believe I feel sorry for a guy who was molded into a savage (no pun intended) monster hellbent on killing and helping his brother take over Mandalore. Maul at the least puts up a better fight and is able to land some hits on Sidious, which shows us that he's not completely invincible at least, but let's face it, even Maul barely stood a chance and Sidious ultimately takes him out with the Force. Like come on guys, you expected Darth Sidious of all people to play fair? He'd LAUGH at you for suggesting such folly!
Thomas: "The choreography of this fight is spectacular; dynamic and fast-paced, full of jumps and spins and you feel every clash of blades. Some say there's something almost alien about the way Palpatine employs his technique. While this could simply be the rarity of seeing him use it, there's no doubt he's just as deadly with a lightsaber as he is with the Force.
It's also one of those fights where villains clash, making this a clash of hatred and darkness; and given you know Palpatine will win, you kinda fear for Maul.
Following this, Maul is captured by Sidious, plunging Mandalore into further chaos, and ultimately leading to Mother Talzin's death when Maul attempts another power grab.
Needless to say, this duel was the perfect way to send off Ian Abercrombie's tenure as Palpatine."
Media Man: Too right, mate. He was on top form with his performance here, as was Sam Witwer as Darth Maul and Clancy Brown as Savage Oppress.
With a deadly duel between master and apprentice where no matter who wins, everyone loses, this was a duel that truly shows us the raw power of the Dark Side...
(Continued in Part 2...)