Sword fights. Everyone loves a good sword fight. They combine the best thing about chess – the strategy and fitness of a well-timed and executed move – with the ferocity of a wrestling match. Plus, they’re normally really well scored. They’re like a dance off with more equipment and less impressive footwork. With that in mind, we thought that it’s important to take a couple of minutes to go through five of the best sword fights in movies.
5. Aragorn Vs The Nine Ringwraiths – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
While the Hobbit films were somewhat “less than stellar” there’s no doubt that Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films were, on the whole, quite good. The Fellowship of the Ring especially. There were a lot of things in that film that worked really well – Saruman’s new orcs, the Balrog, the secret council, but the thing that really sold the film was the battle between Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and the Ringwraiths. It may have been short, but it set the tone for the film and it ends with an evil ghost getting a flaming torch to the face. What more does a film need than that?
4. Captain Jack Sparrow Vs Captain Hector Barbosa – Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Geoffrey Rush, playing the role of Hector Barbosa, described this fight as an epic battle between two immortals and is it ever. The choreography is pure Flynn-like. It’s over the top and quicker than a ship at full mast. Intercut with this scene is another sword fight: Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) versus the undead crew of the Black Pearl. Plus, bringing back what we said about being really well scored, Hans Zimmer is on point with the theme for both this fight and the entire scene. The series may have gone off the map in later films, but The Curse of the Black Pearl really was treasure.
3. Hector Vs Achilles – Troy (2004)
Okay, so this one is definitely a controversial choice. Classics Students hate this film because it’s not the Illiad; Lord of the Rings fans hate it because Legolas (Orlando Bloom) is a coward in it; and cinema-philes hate it because… Well, its quality is debatable. But, 2004’s Troy is notable because: every single actor seems to be chewing the scenery in every single scene and it has Eric Bana and Brad Pitt fighting with spears. Taking place the day after Hector (Bana) killed Patroclus – Achilles’ cousin-in-this-version-but-lover/protege-in-the-Illiad, it features some of the best choreography in a film that’s pretty much built upon its sword-to-sword choreography and the bankability of Brad Pitt. The fact that most of the fight is actually one that’s between two spear wielders – something which is rare in the medium, for some reason – only makes the whole thing even better. Plus, Pitt’s Achilles really lays on the smack talk. Hard.
2. The Bride Vs The Crazy 88 – Kill Bill, Vol. 1 (2003)
As the titular Bill (David Carradine) says in Kill Bill Vol. 2, Uma Thurman’s character wasn’t really fighting eighty-eight bodyguards during this fight. According to the Kill Bill Wiki, there are only forty-four of them. Still, that’s a considerable number of bodyguards for one woman to fight by herself and Thurman does it stylishly. She’s called the world’s deadliest woman throughout the film, but it’s this scene in which the thesis is tested. It’s one of the most stylish scenes Quentin Tarantino ever shot and we’d argue still holds up compared to his later work. There’s so much to say about this fight but we’ll just let the fact that the Bride fought forty-four bodyguards (as well as two bosses) and won speak for itself.
1. Luke Skywalker Vs Darth Vader – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
There were a lot of options that we could have gone with for our ultimate battle of the blades. Hell, there were a lot of options we could have gone with from the Star Wars franchise. But, after going through all seven films again, we’ve decided that the top of them all has to be what was – for a long time – the final battle in the Star Wars trilogy. While not as technically flashy or quick as some of the fights from the prequel trilogy, the fight between Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Darth Vader (David Prowse/James Earl Jones) more than makes up for it in terms of both emotional impact, thematic appropriateness, and score. And wow, what a score it is. John Williams is known for his scores but we think this just takes the cake.
Are there any sword-fights you think we missed? Let us know in the comments below.