Blood-stirring Darth Maul fan film pulses with lightsaber action

Darth Maul steps into the spotlight for fast and furious fight scenes in a lovingly made Star Wars short. Spoiler alert: There's no Jar Jar Binks.

He's back and badder than ever.

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

The Star Wars prequel films have a shaky reputation based on issues like Jar Jar Binks, flying R2-D2 and cheesy digital effects. But they also have a red-and-black-faced fighting machine with a double lightsaber. You can't get much cooler than Darth Maul, one of the most compelling Siths in the galaxy. The horns really help sell the look.

Darth Maul is the subject of a loving and well-shot fan film called "Darth Maul: Apprentice." The film is over 17 minutes long and is stuffed with great makeup, good effects and raging fight scenes. YouTube filmmakers T7Pro published the video on Saturday.

The short kicks off with a voice-over growling, "Our enemies will pay for what they have done to us. The annihilation of our people will not be left unpunished." That's always a great setup. "Hate makes us powerful," the voice intones.

Let's start with one of the most pressing issues. How is the makeup? Darth Maul's full-head look is a challenge, but T7Pro pulls it off with aplomb. It's not perfectly screen accurate to the original, but it looks fantastic, crisp and menacing. The crown of horns, yellow eyes and funky teeth are intact.

The plot quickly moves on to some Jedi-on-Sith battle action. The lightsaber fight scenes are athletic and furious. It took T7Production two years to make the short and that care and dedication shows through in everything from the flying drone special effects to the cinematic lighting.

Darth Maul's popularity hasn't waned since the movies first came out. The action-packed video has already topped 1 million views, a testament to fans' love of the character. So the next time you're tempted to reach for the prequels, you might want to load up "Darth Maul: Apprentice" instead.

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