Fan film: Apprentice

This is an interesting fan film featuring Darth Maul.

This is a really visually interesting film.  The visual animations are very interesting.  The 3D “sphere” of screens contained some really interesting art work of trade federation armaments and battle droids. The ship animation was very interesting as well.  The cinematography is quite striking and very engaging.

But overall, I  don’t like it.  It’s quite well done visually, but it’s clearly a fan/student film.  It’s primary focus, though, is the fighting.  And the fighting isn’t very good.

I’ve studied six martial arts for the last 30 years.  I consider myself somewhat of an expert.  The martial arts in this is pretty unremarkable.  This isn’t anything new – the martial arts in Star Wars (and modern films in general) is generally pretty awful.  A few things that define awful:

  • Flipping: This looks cool at first, but it’s the worst thing to do in a fight.  Anyone who tries to do a flip in a fight is an amateur full of hubris.  Flipping exposes your vital areas and prevents you from protecting them. It’s just really dumb.
  • Real Masters Don’t Move: A real master at fighting moves the least. They don’t induce a rhythm that can be followed.  They don’t move themselves out of position. They don’t put themselves off balance.  They don’t expose their vital targets.  They don’t jump in the middle of a gang of people with light sabers. Masters don’t move.  Amateurs do.  So what do these Jedi do?  Move around everywhere.  They even followed Maul into a boxed in Ravine.  That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.
  • No Reason to fight: The notion of not exposing your vital points extends all the way before the engagement.   There’s no need for this fight to take place. This film seems to take place before the events of Episode I.  The subtext of the Jedi in the prequel era is that they are arrogant and unaware of the Dark Side.  Arrogant or not, it makes more sense for the Jedi to observe Maul from a distance to understand who he is and if he’s the Master or Apprentice.  Like… ya know.  What they said in Episode I.  In fact it was most of the Plot of Episode I.  So why did this handful of Jedi run in guns light sabers blazing?  I mean… they didn’t even take out the cameras?   What were they even thinking?  Nothing.  The story is just weak.
  • Untrained fighters are obvious: the actor playing Darth Maul and the first Jedi look like the only properly trained people (martial artist or otherwise).  The rest were only providing unnecessarily dramatic poses.  Their sword fighting is lacking – just sweeping swipes with no strategic interest.  They’re often off balance.  They’re movements are unrefined.  They look like amateurs.  I think it could/should have been better.

This ultimately doesn’t fit with Canon.  If these Jedi just went missing, nobody went to investigate?  They didn’t find their bodies with light saber wounds all over them?  This didn’t tip off the Jedi Council  that there was an evil Jedi somewhere?

But they get an A for effort. They had a good location.  They had wires.  Special effects.  Elaborate make-up.  A full crew.  Nicely done (just not the fighting).

And if you’re interested, here’s the “making of” film too.