THE DUEL IN THE PRINCESS BRIDE
SERIOUSLY FUNNY FIGHTING
LEGEND HAS IT that the Fast & Furious 5 punch-up between Vin Diesel and the Rock originally had its own three-act structure. But this scene, described in William Goldman’s script as “the greatest duel ever fought”, has all that and a banana, even fitting in a narrative twist. The opponents are Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), a master swordsman and revenge aficionado, and the Man In Black (Cary Elwes), a mystery.
The two swordsmen feint, testing one another’s form and comparing notes on technique in a flow of patter. They trade blows in a flicker of lightning-fast moves, up and down the uneven ground of a ruined fortress.
Fought to a standstill, Inigo admits that he is not left-handed, switches to his dominant hand and at last challenges his opponent. But, twist! “I’m not left-handed either,” says the Man In Black, as every viewer cheers.
It’s all a tribute to the glory days of Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn (fight choreographer Bob Anderson actually worked with Flynn), and to months of intense training by both actors. But this is not simply a physical masterpiece; it’s one of the funniest duels ever, between the Man In Black’s impeccable manners and overwhelming skill, and Inigo’s growing desperation. Goldman set a high bar for this one; the amazing thing is that the cast and crew delivered.