Luke Skywalker’s Fight Scene in ‘The Mandalorian’ Pays Homage to Darth Vader
From men's health
It took over 12 chapters before Disney's The Mandalorian finally gave us a lightsaber fight - Ahsoka Tano competed against hordes of idiotic soldiers, and then the magistrate in a palace garden duel that featured Uma Thurman and Lucy Lius Kill Bill: Vol. 1 Showdown. Thirteen episodes and our first big fight scene were derived. Sigh.
In the finale of the second season of The Mandalorian, Chapter 16: "The Rescue", Luke Skywalker successfully appears as a CGI face substitute and offers the audience our second big lightsaber fight. However, this time the homage wasn't another Tarantino film, but another Star Wars film: Rogue One 2016.
Rogue One ended with perhaps its best non-Donnie Yen combat sequences: Darth Vader massacring rebel fighters on the Tantive IV, the ship that boarded at the beginning of the original Star Wars. The Mandalorian filmed the opening of his own lightsaber battle in the hallway in the same way - with Luke drawing his lightsaber in front of the camera and, after exiting a door, superimposed the sequence that Luke and Vader, father and son, superimposed. The scene takes place chronologically after Vader's slaughter and further highlights the opposing paths of the characters: one to the Syth and one to the Jedi.
It's also worth noting that Rogue One's lightsaber fight ended with another CGI face substitute: Princes Leia, Carrie Fisher. (The film also featured one of the creepier digital faces with Wihuff Tarkin.) Lucasfilm's VFX house, Industrial Light & Magic, which worked on The Mandalorian and all of the Star Wars films, kept getting better, even though the fight scenes didn't.
While Luke's corridor cut looked cool in CGI, the actor's movement was often obscured by the shadows in the scene as well as the constant cutting of the ship's bridge.
It's not the first dazzling fight scene in the series.
Probably one of the problems with Mandalorian battle scenes is armor. Lauren Mary Kim, a stunt actress who doubled up on several cast members on The Mandalorian, including The Armorer, said her work on the series involved some of the most grueling fights she's ever had. Her fight scene as The Armorer - when she takes on two clubs against several stormtroopers and uses Arnis martial arts - is perhaps the best fight scene in the series. But even this scene - although it was filmed as Oner - is torn to pieces in the editing room.
Photo credit: Men's Health
Editing probably makes the movements seem faster, considering how heavy the costumes are. The only way to swing a prop that fast is by carrying weights. Mando often looks awkward running and fighting, which doesn't make it surprising that perhaps his best battle scene was also his only one without armor - the series' Mad Max tribute in chapter 15, when Mando is disguised as a light Imperial soldier.
The most recent Star Wars films have been successful in allowing the cast to perform well. Donnie Yen's work on Rogue One is a good example of how to play to an actor's strengths (though Yen has likely been prevented from doing more elaborate work).
Of course, watching TV is difficult and the movie schedules are tight and fight scenes take time. We understand But we'd love to see a little more originality - and some fight scenes where artists like Kim aren't complained.
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