#2 Obi-Wan vs Darth Vader (A New Hope)
Quite honestly this is my favorite fight in all of Star Wars, but I’ll give fan points to the other fight to give it #1 in a minute. Not many think of this fight when you talk about the great saber fights of Star Wars. In fact, I know many would put this over on the “Worst of” list. I have talked about technicalities swinging fights into and out of lists. This is one where the great performances of the actors combined with the true fencing, make this fight one of the greats.
Peter Diamond had some issues holding his fight back. First was Lucas demanding no single-handed fighting. He wanted the actors to act as if the blades had a weight to them. Secondly, the blades themselves back in 1977, were so fragile Alec Guinness and David Prowse had to hold their blows, so the blades didn’t hit. The CGI later would cover up the fact they never touched.
Developing a Fighting Style
Despite this, Peter developed a fight very reminiscent of Samurai fighting style. The moves were short, quick and sharp. Yes Obi-Wan got in what would be his trade mark spin a couple of times, but otherwise it was a straight up swordsmanship fight. This is technically one of the better fights in Star Wars. Not only that, but the way Alec Guinness fought would be a great set up for what would be Obi-Wan’s defensive style of Soresu. In my own sparring, I’ve used a stance mimicking the stance of Old Ben. It is very hard to get around.
More to the Duel than Swordplay
Then you have the verbal fencing going on between Vader and Ben. Again, at the time it had very little definition, but as the rest of the story developed around A New Hope, the jabs and parries flowed right into the other movies. It hinted at such a larger story and rich history between these two that would take the next 28 years telling.
At this age, it was so rare that a good guy would not only lose in a fight but let himself be killed that the ending to this fight struck home with those of us that saw it back in 1977. I have no doubt Ben could have held his own against Vader for some time, but he knew Luke was more important. Granted he knew he wouldn’t die merely transform int the force, but we wouldn’t understand that until later. We all felt as Luke felt as the Falcon raced away from the Deathstar.