Swordplay has been around for several thousand years in human history and has become a staple in popular culture thanks to movies. Many movies have featured swordplay using all types of swords from around the world, but only a few are truly memorable.
Few cases are over the top in terms of dramatic swordplay and fantasy martial arts. However, they have elements of realism that make the fight scenes and choreography truly a sword lovers’ joy. In this article, we will review the best movies featuring the most memorable sword fights, whether in sci-fi TV shows or historical action movies with gladiators.
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1. The Duellists (1977)
Ridley Scott directs The Duellists, a historical drama featuring Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel set in nineteenth-century France. This film chronicles the rivalry between two members of the police, Armand d’Hubert and Gabriel Féraud, who’ve been at each other’s throats for quite some time.
The movie features the most realistic, accurate, and dramatic sword fights ever shot, and the movie also has impressively detailed costumes and scenery. It is, without a doubt, the best sword-fighting film in movie history, and you should definitely give it a watch.
2. The Deluge (1974)
The Deluge is another historical drama created by Polish director, Jerzy Hoffman and set in the seventeenth century. It is not a well-known movie that has slipped under the radar of many sword enthusiasts. It is undoubtedly one of the most realistic.
Andrzej Kmicic, a young aristocrat in the film, joins a band of rebels battling against the encroaching Swedish army. The swordplay in this film is among the most realistic and deadly ever documented, and the battle sequences are among the most impressive captured on film.
3. Zrodzeni Do Szabli (Born For The Saber, 2019)
Likewise, the Polish Born For The Saber is a movie that is also high on the list. It is a movie with one of the most realistic sword scenes. Each step taken by the sword fighters mattered, and if they didn’t, they would have been hit, so the actors must’ve done a lot of training prior.
There are no slashes of empty air seen in most Hollywood movies which makes this movie almost as instructional and helpful for sword enthusiasts out there. On top of that, the movie is entertaining. It is about courage and honor sought by a young noble in a chaotic warfare type of scenario during the 17th century Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth.
4. Seven Samurai (1954)
One of the best Japanese films ever made, Seven Samurai was directed by the late great Akira Kurosawa. To protect themselves from robbers, a poor hamlet in 16th-century Japan hires a gang of seven samurai.
The swordplay in this film showcases Kurosawa’s creative camerawork and use of slow motion. These together provide some of the best breathtaking action sequences and inspired a lot of modern anime shows.
5. The Mark of Zorro (1940)
In the classic swashbuckler The Mark of Zorro, created by Rouben Mamoulian and featuring Tyrone Power and Basil Rathbone, the action takes place in California in the late nineteenth century. The film chronicles the exploits of Don Diego Vega, a powerful and wealthy nobleman who assumes the identity of the disguised hero Zorro to overcome oppression. This film is a classic because of its thrilling and expertly choreographed swordplay, as well as its adventurous and romantic tone.
There are a few over-the-top, theatrical sword moments throughout the film, but they aren’t quite as outrageous as they are in other movies. As for the fencing, it’s all here, and it’s all correct, from the footwork up. This tradition carries on in the later The Mask of Zorro too.
6. The Princess Bride (1987)
The Princess Bride is a cult classic romantic fantasy movie featuring Cary Elwes and Robin Wright, directed by Rob Reiner. Westley, the film’s protagonist, is a young swordsman who goes on a quest to free his beloved Princess Buttercup from the grips of a wicked prince.
People of all ages can enjoy the film’s humorous swordplay, which is surprisingly realistic at times. They will also enjoy the excitement of its action sequences, the film’s witty dialogue and the endearing characters.
7. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a kung fu epic created by Ang Lee, featuring Chow Yun-fat and Michelle Yeoh. The narrative follows two warriors as they become entangled in a search for a stolen sword.
The film’s swordplay is magnificent in its artistry and athleticism, which is widely considered to be some of the finest of its kind, primarily thanks to the wonderful acting by Shu Lien, credited with bringing the movie an Oscar.
8. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
Kill Bill is a vengeance thriller starring Uma Thurman and directed by Quentin Tarantino, who was inspired by the iconic martial arts movies of the 1970s. The plot of the film centers on a former assassin known only as “The Bride,” who seeks vengeance against those who betrayed her.
This film features some of the most dramatic and graphic sword battles in recent memory. Kill Bill is a must-watch for fans of swordplay movies and action pictures because of Tarantino’s unique flair and appreciation for older genre films.
9. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – 2001
Filmmaker Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring into an epic fantasy adventure is widely regarded as a modern classic. Hobbits, humans, dwarves, and elves (among others) embark on a dangerous mission to destroy a magical ring that could bring about the end of the world in this epic fantasy film.
While it’s a fantasy, it features many medieval sword elements, and the fights are similar. Maybe not realistic in its entirety, but it does feature very well-thought-of sword chemistry and battles, whether in large-scale armies or one against many types of scenarios.
10. The Three Musketeers (1973)
No matter what year or version of the Three Musketeers you might be watching, you are going to almost always see the acrobatic dueling and fencing moves done by the long European Rapier sword. These movies are set in motion by adventure and sword fighting by the legendary characters from the Alexandre Dumas novel.
While the dramatic effects can be overdone at times, it is still a joy to watch how the heroes overcome the odds with the simple slashing and thrusting of their pointed swords.
11. Star Wars series
Star Wars is a box office science fiction classic and global hit that can be considered inside the sword-fighting category as well. The film was directed by George Lucas and featured Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill.
In the movies, Luke Skywalker, a farm boy, becomes drawn into a war between the tyrannical Empire of Darth Vader and a team of rebels led by Obi-Wan battling for freedom across the galaxy. Star Wars isn’t about sword-fighting per se. Still, its lightsaber clashes are among the most famous and memorable in film history. Some of the battles are actually authentic and exactly how they should be if somebody had lightsaber duels.
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