True WMA in film

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Manveruon
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Re: True WMA in film

Post by Manveruon »

Whenever anyone brings this subject up, the Duelists is invariably the single example EVERYONE touts as being the best example of realistic sword combat in any Hollywood movie ever. And... well... they're probably right. The duels throughout the film are absolute masterpieces of fight choreography, and what's more, the entire film seems to be little more than a vehicle for Ridley Scott (in his directorial debut, I might add) to shamelessly show off every possible style of dueling that existed in the early 1800's, one at a time. It even culminates with a really terrific pistol duel (which doesn't end like you'd think). I admit that the plot of the film bored me somewhat, but as a duel-scene vehicle, it was superb.

Other films that come to mind are Master and Commander (great shipboard fight scenes, and just amazing historical authenticity all around), and actually, the old Robin Hood with Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone. It has, admittedly, been a long time since I watched the entire film, but the final duel between Robin and Sir Guy will probably always be my favorite sword fight of all time. Now, as far as WMA is concerned... alright, it's a stretch, to say the least. Leaping over things, fighting up and down stairs, parrying on the edge of the blade, etc. etc. Still though, what I love about this fight is the speed and ferocity with which it is fought by both opponents, the way they use their surroundings in the fight itself, the fact that they trip, fall, knock into things, etc. without blatantly looking like professionally trained stunt-men, and most of all, how the duel ends with one well-timed thrust to the torso. It's almost blink-and-you-miss-it. Robin sees an opening and immediately takes the shot. There's no dramatic crescendo, no monologue, just a savage thrust, and Gisborne falls off the parapet, kaput.

Love that fight scene.

Last edited by Manveruon on Mon Mar 31, 2014 3:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Peter Remling
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Re: True WMA in film

Post by Peter Remling »

The plot of The Duelists is based on an actual event. There were two Napoleonic Officers who did in fact have seven duels with each other over and after their careers.
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Re: True WMA in film

Post by Beornmann »

The Last of the Mohicans ... I was focused on the sword. Uncas / Chingachgook vs. Magua is my favorite fight scene, hands down.

The ambush scene in The Patriot is also good. Gangs of New York, comes to mind also, but I don't remember specifics fighting techniques.
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Greg
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Re: True WMA in film

Post by Greg »

Beornmann wrote:The Last of the Mohicans ... I was focused on the sword. Uncas / Chingachgook vs. Magua is my favorite fight scene, hands down.
Would have been slightly higher in my personal opinion rating had Chingachgook not somersaulted right before delivering the first backhanded blow to Magua. Still a cool fight, and awesome in that they didn't stretch it way out like so many duels wind up...fights were quick, decisive, and then over.
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Re: True WMA in film

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If you're looking for "true" WMA or even "realistic" swordplay, film is certainly not the place to find it. While The Duellists is certainly at the top of the list for believable and engaging period combat, it is also a study in why there is so little in the way of proper historical martial arts in film.

The fight on stage or in film is there to progress the story. In The Duellists the sequence of duels happen to be entirely integral to the plot, but this is rarely the case. They are microcosmic reflections of the characters engaged in them, and of the story arc and its outcome overall. So traditionally, the manner in which they were fought was not so important as the dramatic tension they provided. "Real" fights don't last nearly long enough to have the characters engage in witty repartee or to reveal their master plans or dark secrets to one another. So for the past century, fight drectors relied predominately on modern fencing techniques being applied to, well, everything. This stems from the Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn era, when such actors with fencing experience found employ in swashbuckler epics.

More recently, with the advent of stage combat symposia like the Paddy Crean International Stage Combat Conference (begun in 1991), The Western Martial Arts Workshop (WMAW, 1999), and The Lansing Swordfighting and Martial Arts Convention (now ISMAC, 2000), all of which serve to expose and instruct and increasing number of stage combat choreographers and fight directors in WMA, we will undoubtedly see more WMA influence in film in the future. There is a smattering creeping in already, and even in LOTR a sharp eye will find Aragorn briefly settling into schlüssel just after the breach of Helm's Deep.

It would be remiss in any talk of this subject to not mention The Princess Bride (1987), for while the fight on The Cliffs of Insanity is not exactly realistic, it does mention by name several actual historical fencing masters - Agrippa, Capo Ferro, Thibault, and Bonetti - something I'm fairly certain has not been done in any other fight.

As for other films with "realistic" period fights, I have heard good things of Alatriste (2006, also featuring Viggo Mortensen), and Le Bossu (1997) has some fantastic scenes. Ironclad (2011), while not a particularly good film, does capture some of the essence of brutal and bloody swordplay and even has some half-swording and a mortschlag. I was impressed with some of the knife work in Solomon Kane (2009), and has noone mentioned Rob Roy (1995)? But again, these aren't "realistic" fights so much as having believable elements. You'll have to define for yourself if you want "realistic," "accurate," or "believeable" and what those terms mean to you.
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Peter Remling
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Re: True WMA in film

Post by Peter Remling »

Odigan wrote:If you're looking for "true" WMA or even "realistic" swordplay, film is certainly not the place to find it. While The Duellists is certainly at the top of the list for believable and engaging period combat, it is also a study in why there is so little in the way of proper historical martial arts in film.

The fight on stage or in film is there to progress the story. In The Duellists the sequence of duels happen to be entirely integral to the plot, but this is rarely the case. They are microcosmic reflections of the characters engaged in them, and of the story arc and its outcome overall. So traditionally, the manner in which they were fought was not so important as the dramatic tension they provided. "Real" fights don't last nearly long enough to have the characters engage in witty repartee or to reveal their master plans or dark secrets to one another. So for the past century, fight drectors relied predominately on modern fencing techniques being applied to, well, everything. This stems from the Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn era, when such actors with fencing experience found employ in swashbuckler epics.

More recently, with the advent of stage combat symposia like the Paddy Crean International Stage Combat Conference (begun in 1991), The Western Martial Arts Workshop (WMAW, 1999), and The Lansing Swordfighting and Martial Arts Convention (now ISMAC, 2000), all of which serve to expose and instruct and increasing number of stage combat choreographers and fight directors in WMA, we will undoubtedly see more WMA influence in film in the future. There is a smattering creeping in already, and even in LOTR a sharp eye will find Aragorn briefly settling into schlüssel just after the breach of Helm's Deep.

It would be remiss in any talk of this subject to not mention The Princess Bride (1987), for while the fight on The Cliffs of Insanity is not exactly realistic, it does mention by name several actual historical fencing masters - Agrippa, Capo Ferro, Thibault, and Bonetti - something I'm fairly certain has not been done in any other fight.

As for other films with "realistic" period fights, I have heard good things of Alatriste (2006, also featuring Viggo Mortensen), and Le Bossu (1997) has some fantastic scenes. Ironclad (2011), while not a particularly good film, does capture some of the essence of brutal and bloody swordplay and even has some half-swording and a mortschlag. I was impressed with some of the knife work in Solomon Kane (2009), and has noone mentioned Rob Roy (1995)? But again, these aren't "realistic" fights so much as having believable elements. You'll have to define for yourself if you want "realistic," "accurate," or "believeable" and what those terms mean to you.

Slightly off topic but, where did you get a copy of Solomon Kane that is playable in the states ? I looked forward to this film coming out and then it never played in theaters here. I was more than slightly pissed !
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Re: True WMA in film

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Peter Remling wrote:Slightly off topic but, where did you get a copy of Solomon Kane that is playable in the states ? I looked forward to this film coming out and then it never played in theaters here. I was more than slightly pissed !
I got the DVD as a gift several years ago and it was all region. It's also currently available on Netflix Instant and I presume elsewhere streaming.
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Re: True WMA in film

Post by Taurinor »

Odigan wrote:
Peter Remling wrote:Slightly off topic but, where did you get a copy of Solomon Kane that is playable in the states ? I looked forward to this film coming out and then it never played in theaters here. I was more than slightly pissed !
I got the DVD as a gift several years ago and it was all region. It's also currently available on Netflix Instant and I presume elsewhere streaming.
I picked up a copy for 5 bucks or so at Walmart or Target, one of the big box stores.
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Re: True WMA in film

Post by mcapanelli »

Peter Remling wrote:
Odigan wrote:If you're looking for "true" WMA or even "realistic" swordplay, film is certainly not the place to find it. While The Duellists is certainly at the top of the list for believable and engaging period combat, it is also a study in why there is so little in the way of proper historical martial arts in film.

The fight on stage or in film is there to progress the story. In The Duellists the sequence of duels happen to be entirely integral to the plot, but this is rarely the case. They are microcosmic reflections of the characters engaged in them, and of the story arc and its outcome overall. So traditionally, the manner in which they were fought was not so important as the dramatic tension they provided. "Real" fights don't last nearly long enough to have the characters engage in witty repartee or to reveal their master plans or dark secrets to one another. So for the past century, fight drectors relied predominately on modern fencing techniques being applied to, well, everything. This stems from the Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn era, when such actors with fencing experience found employ in swashbuckler epics.

More recently, with the advent of stage combat symposia like the Paddy Crean International Stage Combat Conference (begun in 1991), The Western Martial Arts Workshop (WMAW, 1999), and The Lansing Swordfighting and Martial Arts Convention (now ISMAC, 2000), all of which serve to expose and instruct and increasing number of stage combat choreographers and fight directors in WMA, we will undoubtedly see more WMA influence in film in the future. There is a smattering creeping in already, and even in LOTR a sharp eye will find Aragorn briefly settling into schlüssel just after the breach of Helm's Deep.

It would be remiss in any talk of this subject to not mention The Princess Bride (1987), for while the fight on The Cliffs of Insanity is not exactly realistic, it does mention by name several actual historical fencing masters - Agrippa, Capo Ferro, Thibault, and Bonetti - something I'm fairly certain has not been done in any other fight.

As for other films with "realistic" period fights, I have heard good things of Alatriste (2006, also featuring Viggo Mortensen), and Le Bossu (1997) has some fantastic scenes. Ironclad (2011), while not a particularly good film, does capture some of the essence of brutal and bloody swordplay and even has some half-swording and a mortschlag. I was impressed with some of the knife work in Solomon Kane (2009), and has noone mentioned Rob Roy (1995)? But again, these aren't "realistic" fights so much as having believable elements. You'll have to define for yourself if you want "realistic," "accurate," or "believeable" and what those terms mean to you.

Slightly off topic but, where did you get a copy of Solomon Kane that is playable in the states ? I looked forward to this film coming out and then it never played in theaters here. I was more than slightly pissed !
When the movie first came out I "tactically acquired" a region free copy. Now you can just watch it on Netflix.
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Re: True WMA in film

Post by robinhoodsghost »

I have to agree with Ranger Beornmann, ROB ROY had some real sword fighting....quick, ugly and fast. Thats a what a real blade fight looks like.
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Re: True WMA in film

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Rise from the grave! I'm kind of surprised I don't see as many posts in the WMA area. Anyway, I found this little surprise.

I'm a really big fan of anime. I was watching the Berserk Golden Age films, and if you watch the part in The Egg of the King after Guts assassinates Lord Julius, he uses real longsword techniques. Was really surprised here! Apparently, the creators did their research a lot for weapons, apparel and armor for this one. There are little moments like this in the manga as well, in the few moments when Guts isn't using his Dragonslayer sword. Specifically, in the chapter Spring Flowers of Distant Days, there's grappling, half-swording, and even a murder stroke. Never really expected to see anything close to real swordwork, much less western swordwork, in an anime!

If you want to check it out... it is NOT for the faint at heart.
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Re: True WMA in film

Post by Cimrandir »

Not a film per se but I've been told this short fight scene is quite accurate and demonstrates several WMA techniques and methods throughout the fight scene. Appropriate to Middle-earth? Maybe, maybe not. But highly interesting to see a (admittedly slightly dramatized) realistic sword-fight from fencing masters.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cn36Pb8z3yI
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Togon
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Re: True WMA in film

Post by Togon »

These guys are good! I loved their video of rapier vs. messer.
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Re: True WMA in film

Post by Eofor »

Cimrandir wrote: Fri Jul 29, 2022 10:18 pm Not a film per se but I've been told this short fight scene is quite accurate and demonstrates several WMA techniques and methods throughout the fight scene. Appropriate to Middle-earth? Maybe, maybe not. But highly interesting to see a (admittedly slightly dramatized) realistic sword-fight from fencing masters.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cn36Pb8z3yI
Ooooooo errrrr yes and no. I'll start by saying that I do know they are pandering to an audience and that it's better than most movie swordfights but still.

It absolutely does demonstrate several techniques but it goes for far too long, sword fights usually only last until the first mistake. There's also something far too Hollywood about the intensity level - I can't remember ever seeing someone grunting and puffing from exertion like that 10 seconds into the fight and why the hell would you return his sword and not gut him?
It also seems to be only demonstrating techniques which wont 'end him rightly' There are no real sword binds until the one at 1:50 and FAR too many tumbles and falls with zero reason or consequence.

I've fought and watched others fight on more occasions than I can count and two skilled combatants simply don't duel like this, they approach warily (doubly so if the opponent is unknown) they circle around, they probe, they feint, engage and disengage.

For my mind this is the most realistic fight I think I have seen on film - https://youtu.be/MkYjdPCyYjk?t=113

Obviously it's polish sabre and probably different to what you would associate with our stuff but the way the combatants move, strive to stay out of range and even the simple blow to end it all are what makes it quite realistic in my experience.
Togon wrote: Fri Jul 29, 2022 9:49 pm I'm kind of surprised I don't see as many posts in the WMA area.
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Re: True WMA in film

Post by Cimrandir »

Oh, fair enough to be sure. While one day I would love to start practicing WMA, I admit that I really know nothing about it. So it's easy to get swept away by the hype of others. Thank you for the clarification. That Polish saber duel was awesome. I had never heard of the Deluge before and now I'll have see if I can track down a copy of it.
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