The 20 best duels in the cinema – ranked! | Movie
20. Conor McLeod vs. Kurgan V Highlander (1986)
Inspired by Ridley Scott’s The Duellists, Gregory Weeden wrote a screenplay about immortals trying to pierce each other’s heads with big swords. Former Olympic fencer Bob Anderson engineered the confrontation between Christopher Lambert and evil Clancy Brown, who clearly has a lot of fun to live with. “There can only be one!” It is followed by a zillion number of series and television shows.
19. Ogami Ito vs. Ritsudo in Lone Wolf and Cub: sword of revenge (1972)
The carnage in the six-movie Baby Cart series doesn’t end so that just one sword fight is hard to discern, but let’s go with the 50th murder from the first movie, when Ronin Ito (Tomisaburo Wakayama), his infant son strapped to it, wanders around. Once again, he takes a sheet of Archimedes’ book by using reflective sunlight to blind his opponent.
18. Flying Snow v Moon in hero (2002)
All the fights in Zhang Yimou’s wuxia, with the unreliable narrator and politically ambiguous subtext, are great exercises in the magnificence of color. But with the swirling Autumn Leaves, Maggie Cheung calmly facing off against the stubborn Zhang Ziyi is perhaps the most beautiful duel ever, albeit not very useful to anyone looking for practical advice in sword fighting.
17. The Duke of Nevers vs. Lagardère Le Bossu (1997)
The show match at the beginning of Philippe de Broca’s faltering play (adapted from Paul Vival’s much-filmed novel) shows the irresistible bravado of Doc Vincent Pérez as he demonstrates his secret dash with a sword (we might also call it Chekhov’s sword orientation) on the protagonist (Daniel Otwell). Flexible, romantic, age-appropriate shirts!
16. Gabriel Veraud vs. Armand d’Hubert in swordsmen (1977)
Scott’s debut, adapted from a short story by Joseph Conrad, arguably launched a little trend for men wearing their hair in braids, as seen later in Adam You. The second duel Notably, Keith Cardin steps aside to sneeze, and Harvey Keitel exclaims “No!” The sword fights were conducted by William Hobbs, who was more later.
For many non-Asian movie fans, Ang Li’s romance tale was their first taste of the Chinese combat fantasy world in Wuxia. Inspired by King Hu’s classic A Touch of Zen (1971), Li sets one of his gravity-defying duels high among the branches of a bamboo forest, as Chow Yun-fat attempts to teach Zhang Ziyi a lesson.
14. Robin Hood vs. The Sheriff of Nottingham V Robin and Marianne (1976)
The bittersweet romance between the older but not the wiser Robin (Sean Connery) and Marianne (Audrey Hepburn) is almost eclipsed by the camaraderie between Robin and his enemy – Robert Shaw as Nottingham’s most sympathetic warden of cinema. Which, of course, means they have to cross swords, as choreographer Hobbs shows how exhausting combat can be for seniors.
On a bridge full of corpses, David Chiang of various abilities has devised a cunning way of using multiple weapons with one hand to defeat the evil teacher who killed his best friend. Directed by Chang Cheh, the master of heroic romance, but choreographed by Lau Kar-leung, who would go on to become one of the Shaw Brothers’ top thriller directors.
12. André Moreau vs. Marquis de Mainz V Scaramouche (1952)
Hollywood is rocking at its best, with Stuart Granger performing most of his stunts in a bar artistic comedy Trousers as he and Mel Ferrer ditch and grapple throughout the crowded stage, taking full advantage of the balustrades and seat backs in exciting duel Organized by fencing master Fred Cavens.
11. Zatoichi v Hattori Genosuke in Zatucci (2003)
There’s no shortage of swordplay in Japan’s longest-running film series (1962-89), but for convenience, let’s go with the vibrant Takeshi Kitano remake/homage, in which the writer and director stars as a blind swordsman. He and Ronin (Tadanobu Asano) move in their heads (Sherlock Holmes by Guy Ritchie) before Zatochi confuses the opposition by changing his fist.
10. Inigo Montoya vs. Count Rogen princess bride (1987)
“My name is Ingo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” Mandy Patinkin got one of cinema’s most satisfying revenge in his confrontation with the “man with six fingers,” the unrecognizable Christopher Guest, in a fight designed by Anderson.
9. Barry Lyndon vs. Lord Ludd V Barry Lyndon (1975)
The most memorable duels in Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Thackeray’s story about Pounder are probably those with pistols, but great natural lighting, Steven Berkoff’s perfect spin, and Ryan O’Neill’s swerving and gripping, were trained and designed by Anderson. One guard.
8. Kizu vs. Samurai Hill V Seven samurai (1954)
“What an idiot,” says Kanbe, the samurai chief, as he watches this duel. “It is clear what will happen.” But perhaps that’s not so obvious to Green Horn, or to first-time viewers of Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece. The attacker is full of hustle and bustle, but he’s no match for the badass master swordsman (Seiji Miyaguchi) who hit him with a perfect one-kick.
7. Don Diego Vega vs. Captain Pascual Zorro sign (1940)
Basil Rathbone, the best swordsman in Hollywood, was always cast as the bad guys, so he always had to lose. But he said Tyrone Power was “the most nimble guy with a sword I’ve ever encountered on camera. Tyrone could have flocked Errol Flynn with a ready hat.” A great duel here organized by the Cavens.
6. Hanshiro vs. Hikokoro Harakiri (1962)
The 2011 remake of Takashi Miike has its moments, but nothing quite compares to the impact of the tomb duel in Masaki Kobayashi’s original masterpiece, a scathing critique of institutional hypocrisy. Wide screen black and white Dutch leaning (Cunning way to get a file katana Sword in the Frame) plus the great Tatsuya Nakadai in his most frown add to the classic showdown.
Another Hobbs – Extraordinary Choreographer – Special. The final duel between the hero (Michael York) furious after the murder of his lover, and his errant antagonist, played by Christopher Lee, follows the fight in the church (the nuns are shocked) and the physical exertion gradually appears to the detriment of the fighters.
4. Golden Swallow vs. Jade vs. Tiger Come drink with me (1966)
King Hu, in the Shaw Brothers movie that put him on the map, revolutionized wuxia by filming fight scenes like dancing, with a leading lady (Pei-Pei Cheng, villain of Crouching Tiger) rehearsing ballet. In a temple duel, she holds out on her own even when the villain cheats by trying to wear her down with his extravagant henchmen.
After getting his start in Captain Blood (1935), Cavens was hired to add liveliness to the fight scenes in Michael Curtis’ classic swashbuckler, and you don’t get much more pepper than Errol Flynn versus Rathbone in Technicolor’s gorgeous three stripes. There’s perhaps more dodge and dash than can be found in an authentic medieval swordplay, but it’s one of the great cinematic duels of all time.
2. Sanjuro vs Hanbi V Sangoro (1962)
In other minor but exciting Kurosawa duels, Toshiro Mifune and Tatsuya Nakadai stare at each other for what seems to be hours before matters are settled with a single spinning drag that swordfighters never tire of analyzing. The blood was a pressed mixture of chocolate syrup and soda water. The hidden mechanism has reportedly malfunctioned, with heater-like results.
1. Rob Roy vs. Archibald Cunningham in Roy’s theft (1995)
Demonstration #1 in demonstrating Hobbs’ ability to root his combat choreography in his character is this fascinating showdown in which the fighters’ personalities are reflected in their fencing techniques. An aristocratic Cunningham (Tim Roth) is skilled with a double-edged sword, but is sadistic and overconfident, while the honest Rob (Liam Neeson) flounders all over the place with a wide sword. Guess who will win?