(Main image is a screenshot of a copyrighted film, Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, used under Fair Use.)
The main Star Wars films have shown us some incredible battles – the sort of fights that have lived on in our collective cultural memory. Who can forget Obi-Wan’s duel with Vader in A New Hope? Who doesn’t remember Luke versus Vader’s final clash? These infamous scenes are etched into history – but are they the best?
As time went on and more films were released, we as an audience were treated to a plethora of new lightsaber battles. We saw Jedi from the glory days of the republic battling in the Clone Wars. We witnessed a new breed of jedi in Rey fighting Snoke’s bodyguards. Due to the expanded canon, we have also seen so many extra jedi fighters such as Ashoka Tano.
This has resulted in exciting duels and fight scenes across the whole franchise – making a best of list more difficult but so much more enjoyable. So, without further rambling, here are our favourite jedi fight scenes…
Luke Skywalker Vs Darth Vader (Star Wars Episode VI: The Return Of The Jedi)
The first clash between this troubled father/son pairing is iconic and for good reason – it’s when the big reveal about Luke’s lineage occurs.
As a duel, however, it’s short-lived and ends with poor Luke’s arm going down into the clouds. Their second meeting is much more pleasing for fans. We see Luke at the height of his powers, having completed his training and risen to the occasion. He and Vader clash in front of Emperor Palpatine in a battle that’s about so much more than winning or losing.
This duel helped define Star Wars as a franchise for years and has withstood the test of time perhaps better than any other duel in the OT.
Obi-Wan & Qui Gonn Jinn Vs Darth Maul (Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace)
This battle is perhaps best described by one sentence: DUEL OF THE FATES. The epic soundtrack to the first double-bladed lightsaber appearance in Star Wars hjstory still sends pulses of nostalgia straight down even the most hardened fan’s spine. It’s a soaring, unforgettable soundtrack and the battle itself is one of the peak moments from the prequels. Darth Maul’s savage fighting style bests Qui Gonn and we are witness to Obi Wan’s impressive counterattack that puts an end to maul. Or does it…
Obi Wan Vs Darth Maul (Star Wars Rebels)
Darth Maul is Obi-Wan’s nemesis. Their original battle in the film franchise pales in comparison to their ongoing feud throughout the expanded trilogy. Maul survives being cut in half and returns for revenge, and the two clash repeatedly.
It is not until later, during Obi-Wan’s exile on Tatooine, that we see the final battle take place. Maul tracks Obi-wan down and correctly guesses that the Jedi is protecting something on the planet. Obi-wan, knowing this, knows he cannot let Maul leave the planet alive.
The duel is over quickly, but the technical brilliance that Obi-Wan shows during it is exceptional – and a real sign of the Rebels writer’s knowledge of Jedi lore. He baits Maul with the same stance as Qui Gonn used in Episode I, then rebukes his attacker and finishes him for good. In a bittersweet embrace between the two enemies, Maul confides that he hopes infant Luke will ‘avenge us’ – showing he still has good in him, somewhere.
Rey Vs Kylo Ren (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Perhaps a controversial addition, but this is one of the best examples of cinematography in the entire franchise. Rey’s blue saber flashes through a dark forest, whilst Ren’s crackling red one sizzles, smokes and drags its way through the night. When they clash, the energy of two eager, not fully-trained warriors is plain to see.
Any criticism of Kylo tends to be around how he should be more powerful and not have been bested by Rey in this fight – but those people are missing the point: Ren is all misplaced anger, frustration, and jealousy. He wants to fight like a Sith lord but has never faced another saber wielder and has no knowledge of that style of combat. Plus, he’s just been shot by Chewie’s bowcaster. His brash, bold strokes and striding movement show this perfectly. Rey, who is becoming attuned to the force, defeats him with precision and grace.
But really, this battle is included solely for how mind-boggling cool it looked on screen.
Special mention: Rey and Ren’s scene versus Snoke’s guards is also incredible – but misses the mark because it’s not saber on saber combat.
Yoda vs Count Dooku (Episode II: Attack Of The Clones)
For years, everyone always questioned how a dimunitive green alien could truly be the master of the Jedi order. Sure, we saw Yoda’s force powers in the original trilogy – but how could be stand toe to toe with Sith and battle them?
This fight, which could have become a parody, is instead a thrilling and surprising battle where we finally see Master Yoda’s acrobatic fighting style. With the force on his side, he flips, spins and slashes his way to victory over a seasoned duellist in Darth Tyrannus/Count Dooku.
Anakin Vs Obi-Wan Kenobi (Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith)
The tragic fall of Anakin Skywalker is finalised here, where he battles his own master and friend, Obi-Wan, in the fiery pits of Mustafar. Obi-Wan practically begs Anakin not to fight him and to come back to the light, but it is too late. The young jedi has completely fallen to the Dark Side, and this fight shows it.
However, it also shows Obi-Wan’s experience and empathy. After taking the high ground, he makes a final plea for Anakin not to continue fighting. Anakin, bold and presumptuous, ignores the advantage his master has and attacks anyway.
And the rest, as Anakin lies screaming in pain, is history. He is saved from the lava and becomes Darth Vader – forever sealing his fate.
It would be easy to continue listing great fight scenes, but those are our favourites and we stand by them (although we bet the Force Awakens entry will be controversial). Which are your best Jedi fight scenes? Let us know on social!