-Must be a fight within Star Wars movies Episodes I-VI
-Both parties must be fighting with the famous laser-swords known as lightsabers (none of this blaster sillyness)
-Editing maintains good fight sequence techniques and helps the fight itself (along with the story, of course)
5. Episode III: The Sith Lord Vs. Samuel L. Jackson
This is actually my favourite lightsaber fight out of all the fights in each movie, purely because it’s goofy. Not to mention that Jackson is probably the best actor in the entire first three episodes... AND he’s got a purple lightsaber. Really, need I say more? They were obviously having fun, which makes it fun (...ok it’s laugh out loud funny) to watch. As far as editing goes, it’s smooth, but very slow-paced. What I mean by that is that the fight is unrealistically over-choreographed, and the editing doesn’t really help to hide the deliberate movements of the actors. In fact it’s a bit distracting. Or maybe, it’s Ian McDiarmid’s priceless facial expressions during the fight that is distracting me. Yeah, that’s it.
4. Episode I: Darth Maul Vs. Obi Wan and Qui-Gonn
Out of all the fights, this one is probably the coolest. However, in my humble opinion, most of the awesome choreography is overshadowed by a lot of the editing decisions. First of all, it’s intercut between two other character storylines. While there’s nothing wrong with this, and it does move the overall story well, it hurts the fight itself. Secondly, the shot choices (montage-wise) are all over the place. It’s hard to know where your eye is supposed to go. Finally, (what really bugs me) and takes the viewer out of the fight almost completely is the heavy use of extreme wide shots in complicated CG environments. Yeah, we get it. You’re George Lucas and your guys at ILM create amazing fake scenery. But seriously, what’s more important in a film? Cool special effects or telling the story in a way that won’t wear off once special effects get upgraded a year later? Don’t mind me, I’m just a lowly editor.
3. Episode III: Obi Wan Vs. Anakin (now Darth Vader) AND Yoda Vs. The Emperor
This is interesting because the two fight sequences are completely different and they intercut between each other. The whole thing is also painfully long. Thankfully, Obi Wan and Darth have a very fast-paced, exciting fight (at least for the beginning), where multiple angles and quick cuts are effectively used to keep up a high pace and keep it interesting without losing our eye movements. Again, too much emphasis on the environment overshadows the fight, and consequently it forces the viewer out of the action. Just like in Episode I, we feel like we’re supposed to watch the background, not the fight. On top of this, the Yoda/Emperor fight is edited so differently that it’s noticeable. Their fight is much slower (again, aged evil Emperor is up against an old green (now in CGI) puppet), which is also reflected in the editing.
2. Episode IV: Obi Wan Vs. Darth Vader
Besides getting extra points for being the original lightsaber fight sequence, my favourite aspect of this fight is that there is little to no music during the fight. The fight is slow-paced (as is the editing), but let’s face it, these are two old guys sword fighting, and one of them is in a particularly inflexible plastic bodysuit. Nearing the middle of the fight, it’s apparent that the editors (there were 5 of them!) tried to make it feel faster by quick cutting, but there aren’t really enough angles to get the feeling down 100%. It’s also worth noting that it won an Oscar for Best Film Editing despite the blatant wipe/box/you-name-it transition effects.
1. Episode II: Count Dooku Vs. Anakin and Obi Wan (then Yoda)
Here the CG integration through editing took a major turn for the better. The task: getting 80 year old Christopher Lee to seem more agile than an acrobat with no bones. This is the only fight scene where the CG is used more as accents to movement and story than to a character in the fight, and ends up helping the fight rather than distract from it. Even with the cheesy taunt lines stuck in, they managed to keep a good pace and make Christopher Lee look like the badass supervillain that he is. It loses a bit of steam once Yoda enters the picture (probably because he’s not real and it’s hard to fight something that will be inserted later) but purely from an editing perspective, this is the best fight of the series. There’s also a fun lightsaber dance/light show in the middle of the fight! Score!