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Star Wars: The Top 10 Lightsaber Duels Of All Time
Star Wars celebrates its 45th anniversary in 2022. The franchise is still very much a pop-culture juggernaut in this day and age, as evident by the one-billion-dollar box office return of the disappointing Star Wars The Rise Of Skywalker and the popularity of new Disney+ shows like The Book Of Boba Fett and The Mandalorian.
To celebrate this year’s May The 4th celebrations, I’m listing down my personal picks for the top ten Star Wars lightsaber duels of all time.
First, I’d like to clarify that these are my own choices as a lifelong Star Wars fan who have watched every movie, animated series and TV shows in the franchise (including some of the comics and books as well for good measure). I have also taken the liberty of only including canon lightsaber duels.
Despite what many veteran Star Wars fans (including me) may feel about the Sequel Trilogy as a whole, I would be remiss not to include at least one lightsaber duel from those films. Like it or not, it’s stil Star Wars canon. There are several reasons why I chose this from the entire Sequel Trilogy. For one thing, this lightsaber duel takes place in a snow-covered setting, which makes for one of the most visually-striking and unique locations for a lightsaber duel. Look at how the lightsabers interact with the snow, how their glow reflects off the snow.
Plus, this battle felt emotionally powerful coming off the death of Han Solo, and Finn’s turn wielding the lightsaber was a great moment that could have indicated potential of an exciting future (that both The Last Jedi and The Rise Of Skywalker squandered). I won’t lie, after more than a decade of no Star Wars feature films, this was an explosive finale. Sadly, this was the peak of the Sequel Trilogy and it would never reach this high again. It all went downhill from here.
Two-on-two lightsaber duels are often a sight to behold, and examples of complex choreography at work too. One of the best is the duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Asajj Ventress against Darth Maul and Savage Opress. This is also a rare occurrence when a good guy (Obi-Wan Kenobi) teams up with a bad guy (Asajj Ventress). Plus, this is the one and only time in Star Wars canon that you’ll see Obi-Wan Kenobi wielding a red lightsaber.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Obi-Wan battles Darth Maul and it won’t be the last time either. That honour goes to…
As much as choreography is an important element in any lightsaber duel, some lightsaber duels don’t need any complex moves to be great. An example of that is this truly FINAL battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul. This is probably one of the shortest lightsaber duels in terms of duration and length. When this episode came out, we’ve already seen them go toe-to-toe many times across the Prequel Trilogy and The Clone Wars. but this ultimate showdown between them is the most epic and emotional for any longtime Star Wars fan. It’s also proof that animation can be just as dramatically powerful as the movies.
The last lightsaber duel in Star Wars The Clone Wars is also one of its best. This is arguably Ahsoka Tano at her prime and most powerful, considering that she had just powered through an army of Mandalorians to get to Darth Maul in the first place. At this point, she’s no longer officially a Jedi, but her lightsaber skills is definitely still one of the best.
The great choreography in the duel was realized thanks to the motion capture performance Ray Park and Lauren Marie Kim, not to mention the amazing voice performances of Sam Witwer and Ashley Eckstein.
It’s not too often in Star Wars that we get an antagonist-on-antagonist lightsaber duel, but that’s exactly what we got with this one. This duel is also notable for showcasing the full lightsaber skills of Darth Sidious, which we’ve never seen before either in live-action or animation (not at this scale, anyway). He easily overpowers both Darth Maul and Savage Opress, even laughing maniacally throughout the duel. It was a moment every Star Wars would never forget, proving that Palpatine is capable of more than just spamming his Force Lightning all the time.