With Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker wrapping up the nine-movie Skywalker Saga, IGN is celebrating the occasion by looking back at one of our favorite parts of the franchise: the iconic lightsaber duels. Each episode of Star Wars: Breaking Down the Duels will focus on one of the many lightsaber fights as we catch up with the cast and crew members that created them. They share behind-the-scenes stories, offer insightful commentary, and even toss in some trivia you might not have known.In our third installment of Star Wars: Breaking Down the Duels, stunt coordinator Rob Inch runs us through the climactic lightsaber battle between Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) in The Force Awakens. This duel took place in a snow-covered forest, gave us our first look at the crossguard lightsaber in action, and showed Rey connecting with the Force for the first time, to astonishing results.
You can watch the episode in the video player above or keep reading to see what the cast and crew had to say. And be sure to keep an eye on our main hub page as every week we add new episodes of Star Wars: Breaking Down the Duels.“Realistically, if you came up against Kylo Ren in the woods for the first time in your life, you'd be like, ‘it's not for me,” Inch joked, before analyzing how Rey’s relative inexperience with a lightsaber sets the tone for the duel. “The beginning of that fight, she doesn't really want to fight anyway. The whole idea of that choreography was that it starts off really basic and she's really on the back foot and she's using [the lightsaber] like a bat, never on the offensive and always on the defensive. But then, being on the defensive with something, you'll learn about offensive.”Kylo Ren’s unique crossguard lightsaber allowed for Inch to incorporate some moves that weren’t possible with your standard lightsaber.“I think the idea of a lightsaber with the crossguard for the first time, seeing it on screen and then the way we used it, it adds a mechanism where you can do locks. You can catch easier at the top, you can let it slide in,” Inch explained.Inch began work on the fight choreography before knowing where it would take place, but once he found out it would be set in a snowy forest on Starkiller Base, it allowed him to incorporate that environment into the battle.The trees and hills were used “so that she could then use her nimbleness to get away, and it actually would keep her on the back foot because she's running away. But have an edge of coolness to it. So, [the forest] gave [the duel] a bigger scale than we imagined,” Inch said.The duel takes a turning point when Kylo Ren backs Rey up against a chasm and locks sabers with her.“That section is really difficult,” Inch recalled. “We actually named it ‘Sticky.’ I can remember it really well because everything was stuck together. Wherever he bound, she would then bind him, so that the sabers just stuck together. It actually played out, in my mind, really cool because it was her just being really clever and not letting him escape those moments.”When Kylo tells Rey that he can teach her the ways of the Force, it makes Rey remember what Maz Kanata told her earlier in the film. Then, Rey was scared of closing her eyes and letting the Force in, but now she embraces it, and that surge of Force power allowed her to turn the tables on Kylo Ren.“From then on in, she's on the offensive, but it's a really controlled offensive, not like a raged offensive,” Inch said. “So all of those cuts and strikes you see, they're not really big swipes. They're actually little prods and pokes of her just going, ‘Wwell, I could finish you at any time, but I'm just picking you apart at the moment and hopefully it can stop there.’ Hopefully, in that narrative you're picking up that she was to begin with not having a clue what she's doing and she's completely on the back foot, but then all of a sudden the Force comes into play and she starts to believe in herself. There's an arc in the story there, which normally you do in a scene with dialogue, but actually we've done it with a fight.”
Joshua is Senior Features Editor at IGN. If Pokemon, Green Lantern, or Game of Thrones are frequently used words in your vocabulary, you’ll want to follow him on Twitter @JoshuaYehl and IGN.