It’s always great when actual stuntmen comment on movies since it gives people a different and professional perspective that allows them to realize just what’s going on during a scene and how realistic it really is. When it comes to sword-fighting though, there are a lot of experts out there and a lot of them are worth listening to since they tend to have the kind of skill and experience that a person would be wise to listen to. For one, sword-fighting is in some ways like dancing, it requires timing, spacing, and knowing where your partner is at all times. If a sword fight involves multiple people the movements have to be precise and as choreographed as possible for a movie since otherwise they might come off looking kind of lame and not at all realistic when it comes to the finished product. Stuntmen and choreographers can usually pick out just where a stunt went wrong or why a certain fight scene doesn’t make a lot of sense, and when it comes down to a sword fight there are moments in some movies that are a bit confusing. The Last Samurai features plenty of sword-fighting and it’s likely that a good number of scenes might meet with a lot of commentary from those that know something about the samurai and their style of fighting.
One thing that’s clear though is that when fighting with a blade it’s important to know something about the weapon and the style of fighting that it’s generally used for. As in Rob Roy, a rapier isn’t commonly known as a cutting weapon, as it’s a light and very quick blade compared to some that are used for thrusts and, in the hands of an expert, can be quite deadly. A cutlass on the other hand, or a saber, is a heavier weapon and while it can be thrust into an opponent as well, it’s sharpened edge is usually the primary mode of attack. The common misconception in movies concerning the ability of a blade to take so many ringing hits is kind of ridiculous though since at some point the blade will sustain damage and if the hit is strong enough, or the blade weakened to a certain point, it could possibly snap. Swords are meant to cut softer materials than themselves, and clanging a sword against another sword is a defensive and very cinematic effect, but in reality, it’s bound to damage the blade, and the impact of blade on blade is typically quite harsh on the hands and forearms as well.
The remark about a lightsaber being far lighter did make a lot of sense considering that it is a beam of light, and all the weight would be in the handle of the blade. That simple fact makes it sound as though the typical lightsaber would be easy to swing, though likely much more dangerous as well since the level of control needed for such a weapon would have to be absolute. The lightsaber staff though, or double-bladed lightsaber, is a weapon that looks cool and might make a lot of people excited to see it, but there’s a reason why some people would favor handling two lightsabers versus the double-bladed version. For one, a double-bladed lightsaber looks cool and out in the open allows the ability to block more opponents and multiple strikes, but in close quarters it’s essentially useless thanks to its length. In The Phantom Menace, it was a great weapon since the Jedi and Darth Maul were in a very open space and it allowed Maul to keep his opponents at a distance while keeping them both within his sight at times. But the double-bladed saber is definitely harder to learn since it requires a lot more patience and there’s a greater chance of self-harm if the user doesn’t know what they’re doing.
Sword fights aren’t just about banging swords together as is seen in many movies. To be fair, the scenes we’ve been shown throughout the years have been impressive, but they’re not that realistic since many sword fights in history have been far quicker and not nearly as complicated. In a sword fight, the goal is usually pretty simple depending on the situation. In a life or death situation, the quickest person to arm themselves and get moving has an advantage, but only if they know what they’re doing. Speed plus skill tends to trump a big, fancy blade any day, and speed plus skill with the added advantage of experience will usually see a person through a fight unless they’re undone by bad luck or their own arrogance. One thing about a sword fight in a movie is that it’s done to look good, but in real life, sword fights were usually fatal to one individual or the other.