This week I thought I’d talk about a few of my favorite sword-related movies. Obviously I’m a movie lover, but I go to the movies to be entertained or moved, and one of the things that always gets me excited is the prospect of a good sword fight. Choreography, pacing, and witty banter are the hallmarks of a great sword fight on screen, and these are a few of my favorites.
At the top of my list has to be The Princess Bride (1987), based on a novel of the same name by William Goldman. This movie has it all. Romance, comedy, adventure, and enough witty banter to keep even the most jaded person entertained. (That doesn’t mean they’ll BE entertained, but that’s up to them, not to me.)
The duel between Inigo and the Man in Black (Westley as the Dread Pirate Roberts) has to be my favorite sword battle of all time. Nowhere else do you get that type of swagger, sarcasm, and skill all rolled into a single scene.
After that, I have to say that The Musketeer (2001) starring Justin Chambers, Mena Suvari, Tim Roth, and Catherine Deneuve, merged east and west to create duels and sword fights with a martial arts/wire-work influence. (Yes, this is the same Justin Chambers who is currently in Grey’s Anatomy.)
Those are definitely my two favorites at this point. After that, the list gets a little muddled.
Next we have The Three Musketeers (1993). Yes, the Disney version. I know this movie isn’t the greatest thing, but it had some big things going for it… One was the fact that all of the actors (Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, Chris O’Donnell, and Oliver Platt) were all [gasp] young then (weren’t we all?) and attacked some of the choreography with a youthful vigor. Second, there were some HUGE sword fights in this — lots and lots of combatants, which made it easy to forget that this was a Disney flick. And third… Porthos the Pirate!!! (You can see a clip of one of the battles on YouTube here.)
Along the same vein is the earlier Three Musketeers (1973) movie starring Michael York, Oliver Reed, Frank Finlay, and Richard Chamberlain, all in their prime. This was a much grittier movie than the Disney version 20 years later and showed some of the flair of earlier generations of sword duels, dating back to the days of Erol Flynn.
Another recent movie that featured some amazing sword scenes was Kill Bill. In Volume 1, we saw The Bride (Uma Thurman) fight the Crazy 88s in one heck of a bloody mess. Not my favorite movie ever, but it deserves to be mentioned.
Though I love Highlander (1987), I have to say that its duels are less individualized than some of the other movies listed here, but it’s still a great movie with some solid sword fights.
Funny enough, the Star Wars movies (yes, even the prequels) fall into this category as well. The prequels weren’t great, but they showed us some unique styles of light saber duels, and of course the light saber battle in Star Wars between Obi Wan and Darth Vader will forever be etched in my mind. 🙂
And no list of sword fight movies would be complete without discussing Erol Flynn. He was amazing. It was the early days of Hollywood and damn if the man could act AND swing a sword.
I’ll leave you with a compilation of some of the scenes from his movies.
I’m sure I missed many many movies that should be mentioned here. If you have some, feel free to leave me some comments so I can go watch some great swordplay. 🙂
Until next time… Go see a movie!
p.s. If you want to pick up some of these films at Amazon, click below: