SPOILERS if you haven’t seen the new movie yet, this is pulling in every duel from the seven live action Star Wars movies.
The Force Awakens is out! And that brings our total number of lightsaber duels to…well, I won’t say in case you haven’t seen the new movie yet and you saw the pre-The Force Awakens version of this article.
As before, to count as a “lightsaber duel,” the fight has to be between two named characters, each of whom has a lightsaber. Finn fighting the stormtrooper is the closest non-lightsaber duel to our list, but it still doesn’t quite make the cut.
Oh, and if you want to skip to just the new duels to find out where they fall on our ranking, click here.
Tier 4 – The Forgettable Contests
Don’t worry. Neither of the new duels came in this low.
Let’s be honest: There were a couple lightsaber fights in the series that were just filler, uninspired or ill-inspired messes that we’d rather not recall. And in fact, they both come from exactly the same sequence of exactly the same movie.
#15 – Anakin vs. Count Dooku, Attack of the Clones
There is so much wrong with this fight.
Ok first, the least offensive part of the choreography, which is still pretty bad. I get it, you’re limited by an elderly Christopher Lee, so lots of close-ups and wide shots help you hide things. But seriously, Dooku cuts the handle off one of Anakin’s lightsabers right away, then then spend most of the rest of the fight staring at each other and twirling their sabers over their heads.
But worse is that the duel has no context and no stakes. Right before this, Anakin charges Dooku, and Dooku Force lightnings him right out of the way without any trouble. And that actually makes a lot of sense – Anakin ought to get dominated by the power of the Dark Side so it has at least a little seduction for him come Revenge of the Sith. This lightsaber duel probably shouldn’t have ever even happened.
If you’re going to commit to doing it, though, make it matter. Anakin’s arm gets lopped off and we immediately forget about him. No body horror? No reaction? He’s thrown into a pile with Obi-Wan and then we cut away to other things. Anakin losing his arm is a meaningless outcome, not at all likethe thing it’s trying to emulate.
#14 – Yoda vs. Count Dooku, Attack of the Clones
I can see it coming already. I’m going to get some crap for naming this the second worst lightsaber duel in Star Wars history. But it is. There’s another Yoda fight coming up later on, but let’s be honest, no one ever asked to see the wisest Jedi master in history transmogrified into a whirling dervish. It’s completely against his character.
Rating this fight badly doesn’t even take into consideration the mostly lame Force contest before the saber battle. But once we get there, what are we supposed to think of it? What is Yoda trying to accomplish? He’s clearly not interested in killing Dooku – there are at least two instances where Yoda has clear shots and doesn’t take them, like when he goes flipping past Dooku’s head and just doesn’t bother to swing his lightsaber. The fight tells us next to nothing about either character, it’s short, and it’s never clear what either is trying to gain by it.