If the Guardians Of The Galaxy were a Dungeons & Dragons team, they’d have a serious problem with defence. Boasting not one, not two, but three dual-wielders – Gamora with her swords, Drax with his knives, Star-Lord with his blasters – it’s up to Groot to tank it up to the max and take most of the physical flak while the others dance around like Whirling Dervishes. Exceptionally nerdy role-playing commentary aside, Marvel’s latest blockbuster marks a notable return for the armed and ambidextrous on screen, and in honour of that, here are ten of the, well... ten others (and a few more besides, to be generous).
Guns, incidentally, and any combination of guns and other weaponry, will be dealt with in another list. You have been warned...
Joss Whedon’s sci-fi cowboy caper Firefly enjoyed / endured a tumultuous 14 episodes before being taken off air by Fox in 2002, only to return three years later thanks to Universal – and in cinemas, to boot. One of the biggest question marks hanging over the series was the fate of Summer Glau’s River Tam, a child prodigy that had endured invasive experimentation at the hands of The Alliance. Most thought she was a secret psychic badass, and by the end of Serenity, they were proved right, as seen in this movie-ending long-blade-and-axe kill-‘em-all combo.
There’s dual-wielding, then there’s… whatever the word is for sextuple-wielding, as demonstrated by this aggressively-armed Kali idol. The Man Who Would Be The Doctor (Tom Baker) is the Sinbadguy responsible, but, alas, you can’t see him in this specific clip. Still, it’s testament to the talents of stop-motion maestro Ray Harryhausen that even now, over 40 years later, you can’t take your eyes off the Hindu Goddess of Time and Change and her six scimitars.
Count Dooku has trained the Supreme Commander of the Confederacy Of Independent Systems – that’s General Grievous, by the way – in the ways of the Jedi, which explains why he’s so proficient with lightsabers. The four arms thing, mind, is just showing off, as is the whole wrist-spinning Catherine wheel show he puts on to distract Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan. He’d do better just putting one of his lightsabers directly into his enemy’s feeble mortal heart, although that doesn’t seem to occur to him.
Milla Jovovich’s memory-free buttock-prodder Alice will dual-wield almost anything she can lay both her hands on, notably katanas, submachine guns, semi-automatic handguns, revolvers and shotguns. And with five films in the bag, it’s hard to pick just one moment where she causes particularly spectacular double trouble, but this clip from the opening of Afterlife – number four, released in 2010, involves clones – shows off both her blade and big ol’ gun skills, so it’s a decent compromise.
Another ambidextrous death distributor who isn’t that fussy about whether its firearms or sharp objects he’s using to murder people to death, Blade is just as happy – side point: has Blade ever been happy? – turning vampires into orangey dust with a pair of Uzis or, as in this example from Blade II, what looks like two letter openers.
As with the Resident Evil franchise, Sin City features plenty of twin-gunishment as well as side-by-side stabby-stabby funtimes, but Miho and her swords are the standout, if only because she kills people by driving a blade through the roof of a car. She also lops another goon’s head off like a regular human being might top and tail a runner bean, but that’s chicken feed when you remember she stabs a damn car.
Lord Of The Rings won all the Oscars and garnered all the critical praise, but did Lord Of The Rings – or even The Hobbit, with its rabbit-powered sleigh and wizard with bird faeces in his hair – boast a centaur with two swords slicing and dicing his way through a battlefield? The answer is no. Incidentally, both of the Tolkien trilogies don’t feature a Cockney beaver, unless Peter Jackson is planning a pretty drastic last-minute rewrite of The Battle Of The Five Armies.
By no means the most impressive display of martial artistry on this list, seeing Steven Seagal and Danny Trejo walk around and around each other, poking blades in each others’ general direction, is not exactly black belt worthy, but it is Steven Seagal and Danny Trejo, and they deserve some double-handed respect. Not a huge amount, but some, for sure.
Early on in the long-awaited Tron sequel, Garrett Hedlund’s Sam Flynn fights a mysterious masked warror known as Rinzler. Of course, as any fule kno, Rinzler is ultimately revealed to be a reprogrammed Tron, but that really doesn’t matter: what matters is that Rinzler carries two discs, and he slings them about like a balletic baddass in glowing biker leathers. Neither Blade, nor Alice, nor Machete, do this.
Though no-one – not even Ryan Reynolds himself, and certainly not Deadpool, according to this interview – thinks the representation of Wade Wilson in X-Men Origins: Wolverine was exactly what the character(s) deserved, the film does allow for a very cool use of twin samurai swords as a bullet-deflection system. At one point, a bullet gets sliced in two, and both halves go into the noggin of a goon.
Among his co-characters in the movie, Golden Sparrow in The Forbidden Kingdom (2008) warrants a mention, not forgetting serial sabre swinger Solomon Kane in, um, Solomon Kane (2009) and V in V For Vendetta (2005). Also, much of the cast of King Arthur (2004), a movie that has been quickly forgotten, but not by those who like upwards of three different characters in the full heat of a brawling battle deciding to attack their enemies without any form of shield.
In the preposterbrilliant department, there’s Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan vehicle Shanghai Knights (2003), the follow-up to Shanghai Noon (2000), which has the amazingly hammy bad guy Basil Rathbone (as played by Game Of Thrones’s very own Littlefinger, Aidan Gillen) battle Chan by Big Ben, armed with, you guessed it, two swords.
Also, a series of films called Lord Of The Rings, which has Gandalf with a longsword and staff, Legolas with twin fighting knives and Éowyn with two swords on horseback. Pretty much everyone is at it, including Gimli, at one point or another, but not in a disctinctly memorable way. Still, worth taking note.