Nothing gets people excited quite like a battle between good and evil. One of the biggest franchises to utilize this is the Star Wars Empire. Lightsaber battles are one of, if not the coolest level of filmic fight scenes. Today I would like to offer my personal Top 10 Lightsaber Battles in the Star Wars Cinematic Universe.
General Grievous v Obi-Wan (Episode III)
An Army General Robot with 4 arms using 4 lightsabers against a Jedi Knight - what a concept! Obi-Wan does make quick work of 2 of Grievous’ arms though and ultimately wins the battle by shooting Grievous in the chest over and over again with a blaster until he dies. Don’t bring a gun to a saber battle Obi-Wan…that’s just not fair…
Darth Vader v Obi-Wan (Episode IV)
I know, I know, I know…This is the first ever lightsaber battle on film. It was a great moment in cinematic history, but with the battle of Anakin v Obi-Wan in Episode III being as stellar as it was, I can not help but see this match-up (now) as lackluster.
Darth Maul vs Obi-Wan/Qui-Gon (Episode I)
This is a tougher one for me to not put into my top 10. It is the first ever 2 v 1 lightsaber battle and Darth Maul is introducing us to his double-sided lightsaber. However, I choose to look at this war as a three-part battle. The precursor being all 3 warriors battling it out, but then Obi-Wan gets separated from Qui-Gon which starts battle 2. The final battle then, being Obi-Wan v Maul. The other two battles have clear victors and hit more emotionally than just this 2 v 1 battle.
- Anakin v Geonosis Soldiers in factory (Episode II)
This is one of those “what kind of lightsaber battle is this” moment. But hear me out. The way they shot the scene is amazing to me: they stuck Anakin on a treadmill with a green screen behind him and his lightsaber in hand, and was told to just go for it. Duck, roll, swing and the animation will be put in after. I love the scene and the cinematography behind it!
- Darth Maul v Qui-Gon (Episode I)
Again, once Obi-Wan becomes separated (though only for a few minutes) it creates a distinction between battles. The choreography of this battle brought in a whole new level of lightsaber battles like we had never seen before in the original Star Wars Trilogy. And then to see the top Jedi Knight of that movie fall to the hands of a Sith Lord while a young Obi-Wan watch behind a blast shield, unable to help as his master dies, what a tear jerking moment that was.
- Palpatine v Yoda (Episode III)
If you only had watch the original trilogy, something we never thought we would see is Yoda wielding a lightsaber against Darth Sidius. In Episodes V & VI, these were two old characters with nothing really going for them other than their wisdom of the force and maybe a little lightning power. Now we get to see them fly through the Republic Senate, throwing stadium seating at one another and trying not to fall to their own death. Thank goodness for Yoda’s small stature and ability to fit into tight places or that could have been a more disastrous loss for him and the Jedi order.
- Battle of Geonosis (Episode II)
Earlier I yelled at Obi-Wan for using a blaster against Grievous, but this battle showed us just how strong the Jedi’s weapon of choice really is. It was a grand battle against a droid army wielding blasters and lasers of all different variety, against an order of robe wearing knights with laser swords. Granted, if not for the clones showing up when they did, the Jedi may have gone extinct then and there, but how awesome was it to see Master Windu pull out his purple lightsaber and threaten Dooku!?!?!
- Count Dooku v Yoda (Episode II)
This is the first time we see Yoda wield his lightsaber and it does not disappoint. For Dooku to hold his own using a traditional saber style of fighting vs a tiny, green, alien, ninja, it’s an amazing scene. It is a great master vs once padawan match-up!
- Count Doko v Anakin & Obi-Wan (Episode III)
In his final battle, it looks like Dooku is set to win once again. He has Palpatine captures, Obi-Wan being crushed by force fallen debris, and he is facing off against a Jedi who lost his hand last time Dooku battled him. But Anakin had clearly been training for this moment and took both of Dooku’s hands before taking off his head too. It was the first fight scene of the movie, and set the dark tone for the rest of the film.
- Kylo and Rey v Elite Praetorian Guards (Episode VIII)
For a “new era” lightsaber battle, this one was unbelievable. I liked it, not just because the battle itself was amazing (which it was) but it was the first time we saw “good” and “evil” come together in a team-up moment. After the battle, that all went by the wayside but it was nice while it lasted.
- Darth Maul v Obi-Wan (Episode I)
Obi-Wan just watched as his Master fall to the hands of Maul. We know Obi-Wan will survive, but even knowing he is in the next 5 movies (ok 3 where he’s still alive) it still seemed bleak as he dangled atop a massive pit with Maul swinging his saber wildly at him. Then a front flip, force pull, and a swing of his saber, Obi-Wan chops Maul clean in half! The only downside is that we never saw Maul’s double-sided lightsaber in action again.
- Darth Vader v Luke Skywalker - (Episode VI)
I had to put at least one original lightsaber battle on my list. This is the best battle of the original trilogy and here’s why: For starters, Vader v Skywalker’s first battle was completely one sided with Luke fighting with pure emotion and eventually losing his hand. This second battle had acrobatics for both Luke and Vader, Vader boomerangs his lightsaber to destroy a bridge Luke is standing on, and it ends with Luke uncontrollably swinging down at a fallen Vader even knowing who Vader is (his father). Luke takes Vader’s hand (why is it always the hand?) and adamantly chooses the light side of the force!
- Anakin v Obi-Wan (Episode III)
This was a battle of two people that knew each other so well that they had to pull out everything they had in order to win. This was The Rock v Stone Cold, it was McGregor v Diaz, it was Anakin v Obi-Wan! It was an emotional battle of will, lightsabers, and even a Force push-off between master and padawan. Add in the lava planet of Mustafar and one final lesson on why having the higher ground is important and you get the best cinematic lightsaber battle in the Star Wars Universe.
What do you think? Did your favorite battles make my list? I’m fully prepared to defend my choices with honor!
May the Force be with you,