Favorite movie swordfights:
I really like swordfights that show off the skill and imaginative choreography rather than wirework and clever editing. I've heard people rave about the Bride vs. the Crazy 88's but I don't like it. It's a good action scene, but Uma Thurman's swordsmanship is embarassingly bad.
I'm afraid I don't care for any of the fencing scenes in Richard Lester's musketeer movies either. He did something very good in showing that a real rapier is slower and heavier than the prop swords uses in the old swashbucklers. Unfortunately, he overdid it. The actors stagger around like they're swinging 20 lb iron bars. A realistic rapier is still a light and graceful weapon, and a trained swordsman isn't going to overbalance himself with every single attack. In fact it he should hardly ever do it.
In no particular order...
1. Basil Rathbone vs. Tyrone Power in "The Mark of Zorro" (brilliant swordplay and one of the all time great action scenes ever.)
2. Basil Rathbone vs. Errol Flynn in "Captain Blood" (the duel on the beach isn't as sharp as the fight in The Mark of Zorro but it's probably Rathbone's 2nd best ever (he was a competetive fencer and elevated every swashbuckler he was in.)
3. Stuart Granger vs. Mel Ferrer in "Scaramouche" (Excellent sword play but what makes this one is the imaginative use of stairs, furniture and other props an a very exciting scene)
3. Mandy Patakin vs. Cary Elwes in "The Princess Bride" (Very nice swordplay and the best dialogue ever in a fencing scene.)
4. Liam Neeson vs. Tim Roth in "Rob Roy" (It's harrowing rather than elegant but it's a great scene contrasting the use of two very different weapons, the smallsword and the backsword.)
5. Laim Neeson and Ewan MacGregor vs. Darth Maul in "The Phantom Menace" (for my money the very best of the lightsaber duels.)
6. Zhang Ziyi vs. Michelle Yeoh in "Crouching Dragon, Hidden Tiger" (Sparing use of wirework and elegant choreography make this by far my favorite fight scene in the film. The range of weapons used adds a lot of spice and the Green Desting destroying one weapon after another is a great touch. It also doesn't hurt that the principals are both gorgeous
7. Jet Li vs. Tony DeLongis in "Fearless" (Often when you see an east vs. west fencing match it was clearly choreographed by someone who only knew one style well. This was the exception and it is fascinating to watch. My only complaint is that it was much too short.
8. Danny Kaye vs. Basil Rathbone in "The Court Jester" (It's not Rathbone's best but Kaye is brilliant and this ranks right behind "Princess Bride" as the best comic fencing scene of all time.)
9. Hanshiro Tsugumo vs. a castle full of swordsmen in "Harakiri" (my favorite one-against-many fight from Japanese cinema. Honorable mention goes to Shintaro Katsu who was brilliant in the many Zatoichi movies.)
10. Johnny Depp vs. Orlando Bloom in "Pirates of the Caribbean" (this is the scene in the first movie. The swordfights in the sequels were much too contrived and relied too much on sfx to be very good.)