2. Qui-Jon Ginn and Obi Wan Kenobi vs Darth Maul – The Phantom Menace
After 14 years on hiatus, Star Wars returned to theaters with the prequel trilogy in 1997. Expectations were high but unfortunately, the consensus amongst fans was that this movie did not come close to meeting them.
Despite their poor overall initial response, the one thing that fans did openly praise was the speedy lightsaber duels, particularly that of the climax of The Phantom Menace, pitting Jedi Master Qui Gon Jinn and his apprentice, a young Obi Wan Kenobi, against the mysterious new Sith Lord Darth Maul.
Featuring the first live-action appearance of a double blades lightsaber, the three force users had an intense matchup against each other during the battle of Naboo, featuring flips and flurries of offense unlike that of what fans had seen before. The fight choreography was the best we had seen in Star Wars to this point, and they character progression the duel made for Obi Wan made it even better.
Although it was a two-on-one assault, Maul held his own and managed to isolate Qui Gon from his apprentice, and one on one, Maul was able to slay the Jedi Master while Obi-Wan helplessly watched. Obi-Wan then had to face Maul alone, and while he managed, Maul eventually got the upper hand, knocking away Kenobi’s lightsaber and taunting him as he hung for his life in a reactor shaft.
Obi-Wan manages to focus and summons the force to help him leap out of the shaft and pull his master’s lightsaber to him, slicing Maul in half and seemingly killing the Sith Lord, sending both halves of his body falling down the reactor shaft.
No matter what you think of the films, this duel was a very good ending to the movie, and was one of the most redeeming qualities of the prequels. It served as a great story of growth for Obi-Wan Kenobi, established these new Sith Lords as credible threats being able to kill Jedi and provided one heck of a finish. It’s a shame the rest of the movie isn’t at the same high quality.