Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My Top Five Movie Sword Fights

These choices are made from the movies I have seen. There are a lot of sword flicks out there I have not seen so of course they cannot be included. This list is the top five sword scenes that I remember and loved the best. Oh, and the movie quotes I am doing are from memory so they may not be exact.

5. Seven Samurai. Pick any sword fight in this movie. This movie captures the danger of sword fighting and how most are afraid to get into a serious fight. Some take a swing then run away. Watching Kyūzō with his calm and confidence use his sword with such efficiency was incredible. It really showed the difference of a true master swordsman vs. a soldier who hacks.

4. Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The sword fight with the Black Knight wasn't much of a fight, but more of a carving. Even though it wasn't much of a fight once you have seen it you aren't likely to ever forget it. "Tis but a scratch."

3. Star Wars. The first light saber battle between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan. Most will choose the first battle between Luke and Vader, but the first light saber duel stuck in my head for years after I first saw it. I racked my brain for years trying to figure out why Obi-Wan waited for Luke to witness his death. He just gave up. I mean what the hell, the kid lost his mother, doesn't know his father is the evilest man in the universe, and now uncle Ben decides to give him another dose of trauma.

2. Princess Bride. The fight between Indigo Montoya and Westley on the Cliffs of Insanity. This was such a great fight. "Why are you smiling?" "Because I am not really left handed." And it twists again. Not only is the sword play excellent, but also funny as hell.

1. Rob Roy. The final sword fight between the light footed, dexterous Cunningham (Tim Roth) against the strength and wide swinging Roy (Liam Neeson). I believe this most realistic sword fight on film. Roy dragging his sword blade on the floor, the small but draining cuts from Cunningham's sword and the unrefined determination of Roy at the end of the scene is what makes this sword fight stand out above all the others.

Honorable Mentions
Troy: The battle between Achilles and Hector. This movie could have also been called, Look at the Pretty Men Fight.
Blade: The final battle between Blade and newly transformed Blood God. Snipes should have sheathed his sword after the first movie.
The Count of Monte Cristo: The final battle scene between Edmond and Fernand. Justa all around great movie.
Excalibur: The fight between Arthur and Lancelot. "You have broken what could not be broken." Still my favorite King Arthur movie.
Hawk the Slayer: The final battle between Hawk and Zoltan. One of the best worst fantast movies of all time.


  1. Two I would recommend:

    The Hunted (the one with C. Lambert) for some excellent choreography - the train scene is fascinating and fun to watch.

    Ghost Dog - spirituality and a man with his sword. Not much sword play, but dedication to the ideals of Bushido in a mad sort of way.

  2. The sword fights in the 70's version of The Three Musketeers are all excellent despite not being broadsword and shield type fights.

  3. There is a waaay cheesy 90s movie called "Ring of Steel" that you can mute the dialogue to and still enjoy the excellent sword play. The story is an Olympic fencer accidentally kills someone in a bout when the foil breaks its tip, and eventually spirals into an underground arena.

    You get to see Rapier v Katana, Rapier v Rapier, Katana v Chinese Broadsword, etc etc. All surprisingly excellent action sequences lurking among an otherwise terrible movie. Only have a copy on VHS sadly!

  4. I also echo the sentiments regarding Lambert's "The Hunted."

    Cheesy or not, I also dig the sword fights in the first "Highlander" movie, specifically the first and the last.

    For real fencing action, you might try “By the Blade” with F. Murray Abraham…not great drama, and different from my personal experience in a fencing salle, but still fun.

    Also, if you can get a hold of the 1928 French film “Le Tournoi Dans La Cite” it stars real-life professional fencing champion, Olympic gold medalist and duelist as a bad guy sword fighter. The film is silent and black and white, but excellent. I was able to rent it on VHS.
    : )

  5. Whoops! Forgot to mention the famous fencer in Le Tournai:

    Aldo Nadi, Italian fencer of the early 20th century.

  6. Ghost Dog was a very good movie. One of those off the radar movies that is a surprise when you find it. Plus Forester is always good.

    Highlander, I can't believe I forgot that one. First one. Like Blade I have erased the other movies from my memory.

    I did see the Ring of Steel, but I can't remember much abou it. Can you believe I have never seen a musketeer movie. Seen the cartoon.

    By the Blade sounds interesting. Murry is always good at playing non-humerous characters. Might check that one out.

    Thanks everyone for the suggestions. Netflix is my friend and I will be queing some movies.

  7. Is it possible that you have not seen the 1939 Errol Flynn The Adventures of Robin Hood? The final battle between Robin and Guy de Guisebourne is a classic.

  8. Just watched the French swashbuckling yarn Le Bossu (1997), full of excellent swordplay and the deadly Nevers Attack.

    But its either Robin Hood or Rob Roy for me as No.1

  9. Great topic! I fenced for many years in college and afterward, so I love this stuff.

    And I hugely second Matthew's mention of "Adventures of Robin Hood." You had two pros (Flynn and Rathbone) who knew what they were doing -- Rathbone was on the British Olympic team -- and Robin Hood slays Sir Guy with a classic fencing move: half-lunge - disengage - full lunge. Beautiful.