Ryan Wieber and Michael "Dorkman" Scott, both considering a submission to the very first Lightsaber Choreography Competition at the forums of TheForce.net, a Star Wars Fan Site, developed a rivalry over which of them was the better lightsaber artist. The two met in the real world to hash out said rivalry. "Ryan vs. Dorkman" was the result.
Ryan vs Dorkman is a 2003 Star Wars Fan Film which depicts a lightsaber duel to the death between the titular rivals. RvD (as it is colloquially known) stands apart from other Star Wars fan films in that there is not even the slightest pretense of a story or plot; it is the standard fan film lightsaber duel, distilled down to its very essence and made into its own raison d'etre. As such, there are no Star Wars locations or characters or even costumes; Ryan and Dorkman wear normal real world clothing and battle in real world locations, with the only nod to Star Wars being that they use lightsabers (and a little bit of The Force).
A couple years later came the rematch: Ryan vs Dorkman 2. The sequel is, in practically every way, bigger and arguably better than the original — it's longer, Darker and Edgier, with better effects work and tighter choreography; it has a full crew, using professional grade High Definition equipment; it even has an entirely original score. Submitted to Lightsaber Choreography Competition 3, it won in a landslide. The films' special effects (put together by Wieber and Scott themselves, along with the film editing and fight choreography) were highly praised, even leading into a successful (and award winning) FX career for Wieber.
The pair have expressed interest in continuing the series, but were holding off until they could think of new and creative ways to continue the Sequel Escalation; plans were further put on hold when Dorkman was struck by a car in 2014; he suffered significant physical and neurological damage, and, as of this writing three years later, has not fully overcome his injuries. In the meantime, these films are free to watch / download from the official RvD website. Ryan Wieber has also gone on to work with Brandon Flyte, another lightsaber enthusiast, in the similarly named and similarly styled Ryan vs. Brandon shorts. Both won their LCC years.
In true Star Wars fashion, the original RvD was remastered by Wieber himself. The effects were updated and uploaded on a higher quality video transfer, as the original was heavily compressed for internet distribution. Wieber also gives a rundown of the changes on the website.
This Fan Film series provides examples of:
- An Arm and a Leg: Dorkman loses his right arm in RvD2.
- Ascended Fanboy: Thanks to these films, Ryan Wieber went to work for LucasArts, and eventually became a lead effects artist on Heroes. Michael Scott continues to pursue a career as an independent filmmaker.
- Bullet Holes and Revelations: At the end of RvB2.
- Call-Back: Dorkman loses his glasses near the end of each film.
- Combat Pragmatist: Typically played straight, but spoofed on one occasion: after they both drop their sabers, they square off for a fistfight, but then just turn around and Force-grab their sabers. The reason for this is they didn't have time to choreograph a fistfight, so they added this moment as a gag.
- Duel to the Death: Pretty much the point of the series.
- Excuse Plot: It's just a couple guys swinging lightsabers at each other.
- Eye Scream: Brandon's saber gets cut by Ryan in RvB2; whenever he clicks it, sparks fly around. He uses that to temporarily blind Ryan as they continue their duel.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: When Ryan dies, it's not pretty, particularly in RvD2 and RvB2.
- Flynning: Although it should be noted that it's tightly choreographed enough that the two fighters actually look like they are trying to hit each other.
- Force Tug-O-War: Both films involve a Force fight over a dropped saber.
- George Lucas Altered Version: The remastered version is mostly in a higher quality transfer, but there are some minor changes. The rotoscoping was redone, as Ryan notes that several people worked on the original and the quality and blade consistency changed. The Aspect Ratio and framing was also trimmed up, as it was filmed in 4:3 but unilaterally matted to a 16:9, as well as adding some minor handheld camera shakes to shots originally done on a tripod.
- Good Hair, Evil Hair: Although there's no In-Universe indicator of which one is the hero or villain, it should be noted that Ryan sports quite the sharp goatee in RvD2.
- Hate Sink: Ryan has evil facial hair and outright tortures Dorkman so the audience will think he's a Jerkass, thus making his death satisfying.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: In RvD2, Dorkman's attempt to Force pull his lightsaber back into his hand is interrupted by Ryan yanking down his outstretched arm, causing Dorkman to hit himself in the face with his own weapon. Downplayed in that the setback is only temporary.
- Hope Spot: Double-subverted in RvD, played straight in RvD2.
- Iconic Outfit: Ryan wears the same blue shirt and grey cargo pants in all four of the films listed above.
- Like Reality Unless Otherwise Noted: Other than lightsabers and Force powers, these films take place in the real world. They briefly considered having costumes, but felt it would ultimately be distracting given the real world backdrops.
- Me's a Crowd: Ryan has a lot of copies of himself, which started off as a joke at first. Come RvB2 and it seems to be the Excuse Plot for the reason why they keep fighting even after Ryan keeps losing.
- In RvD, right after (blue-shirted) Ryan dies, Dorkman turns around and gets stabbed by another Ryan, who's wearing a red shirt.
- In RvB2, after Brandon kills Ryan, he reclaims his lightsaber and leaves the premises. Three other Ryans are seen observing Brandon leave. As they start walking towards the door he went through, the Ryan in the middle calls it off and they all leave some other way.
- Negative Continuity: Despite being a Duel to the Death, both combatants are perfectly fine in time for the sequel.
- Ryan at least has the excuse of having clones. (He's actually lost every duel he's ever been in, except for his out-of-nowhere cameo in Alex vs. Nate 2. And his clone in RvD, if that part counts as a duel.)
- No-Dialogue Episode: But, really, what more needs to be said?
- Off with His Head!: In RvB, Brandon beats Ryan by decapitating him.
- In RvB2, Brandon does a variant. Instead of full-on beheading, he slices off the top of Ryan's head.
- The Oner: Both fights begin with a single shot of at least 20 seconds. The second adds an Orbital Shot to the mix.
- Postmodernism: The idea for these films was germinated when a couple of dudes met on a Star Wars internet forum and began a rivalry over who was the better swordsman. The underlying plot of the films? A couple of dudes met on a Star Wars internet forum and began a rivalry over who was the better swordsman.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: The locations are places they had easy access to. The second one, a tortilla factory, was offered for use by a fan.
- Running Gag: Ryan always loses.
- Sequel Escalation: RvD2 all the way.
- Sword Drag: Ryan drags his saber menacingly through a water puddle, giving off sparks.
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works: It's what helped Dorkman win in RvD2.
- Took a Level in Badass: While he was certainly no slouch in the first film, Ryan in RvD2 appears much more confident and in control. Must be the goatee.
- Weapon Stomp: Near the end of RvD2, Dorkman loses his sword hand to Ryan's saber. He tries to summon the saber to him with the Force, but Ryan's foot comes down on it and he proceeds to slice off the working end of the weapon, rendering it useless.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: While Ryan seemed to be tougher and stronger, and managed to cut off Dorkman's right arm and destroy his lightsaber, instead of killing him, he just takes his saber and stabs him through his left shoulder, likely just to torture him. Dorkman was eventually able to reach for Ryan's saber (who was basically shoving the whole lightsaber through his shoulder and the concrete floor), turns it off, then back on, and throws it right at Ryan, cutting him vertically in half and killing him.