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"...don't call me Junior!"
The title of this article is a nickname. This article is about a canonical subject that lacks a proper name, and is known only by its nickname or callsign. Please see the relevant discussion on the talk page or explanation in the article itself.

The Arab Swordsman, also known as the Cairo Swordsman, was working for Nazi intelligence agents operating in Cairo in 1936. He was a member of the city's underworld, who had a reputation as a feared assassin and muscle-man, but his actions led him to meet his death at hands of the American archaeologist Indiana Jones, putting an end to his threat to the Egyptian underworld, though ironically, Jones would find himself in similar situations years after their short-lived faceoff.


Encounter with Indiana Jones[]

The Arab swordsman was based in Cairo, Egypt,[3] operating as a thug for hire,[2] an assassin, muscle-man and bandit in the city's underworld. In 1936, much like the Monkey Man, the man was hired by Nazi intelligence agents operating in the city while recruiting diggers for their operations.[3] Along with a number of other men, the Arab Swordsman was brought on to remove or disrupt any threats to the German excavation of the Ark of the Covenant at Tanis, which included American archaeologist Indiana Jones. When the group kidnapped Marion Ravenwood, Jones' associate, the swordsman stepped up to challenge the archaeologist during his frantic search for her.[1]

A busy Cairo marketplace suddenly parted as the black-robed man confronted Jones with an over-sized scimitar. Giving a small laugh, he began displaying his skill with his weapon to intimidate the American.[1] Not wishing to commit the same mistake he did a year earlier when facing two Thuggees in India[4] and deciding he had no time for a protracted fight against the flamboyant swordsman however, Jones simply took out his revolver and shot him, causing the swordsman to drop dead on the sandy street. The Cairo onlookers cheered Jones' actions and ran off with the assassin's sword while Jones proceeded on his search for Ravenwoood.[1]


Later on that year, when facing the sword-armed Cossacks aboard a train during his search to retrieve the Golden Guns of Buffalo Bill from Russia, Indiana Jones recalled his experience with the swordsman by remarking how at least he had his revolver in Cairo to defend himself from "guys with swords", and hours later, when engaging in a brief duel with Ilya Pugachev, who brought a sword to kill him, Indy reminded himself how he was started to get tired by swords.[5]

Three years after his encounter with the swordsman, Indiana Jones faced Sudao, the strong leader of a Panamanian pillager band, in the ruins of an ancient Mayan city in Panama's jungles while looking for access into the Temple of the Cosmos. To threaten Jones into surrendering the Jade Sphere, Sudao showed off his mastery of wielding fire and fighting with a staff. Out of ammo, Indy was unable to shoot Sudao, forcing him to combat the pillager in close quarters.[6]

In 1969, a much older Indiana Jones ironically found himself in the swordsman's situation while facing a group of gangsters led by a buyer alongside his goddaughter Helena Shaw. Indy used his bullwhip to hold them back, but after the initial surprise, the gangsters quickly dismissed his threats by revealing that they were heavily armed, prompting the elder Jones to duck and cover as the criminals shot their rounds.[7]

Personality and traits[]

Of a menacing stature,[2] this Arab man was famous across the Cairo underworld for his fearsome reputation as a bandit and assassin, willing to steal or kill if in that consisted his task.[3] A professional swordsman, the Arab handled perfectly his sword, which served as his weapon,[1] using the oversized scimitar to intidimate or often dispatch others, slicing through his victims as he sliced through air. always accompanying his blade's cut with an evil smile.[3] He was infamously known as having no rival who could match his exceptional swordmanship, hence why his mere sight could make any grown-up man flee.[2] However, he was arrogant and overconfident as he liked to boast of his sword skills, a trait that ended up culminating with his death at the hands of Indiana Jones, who chose not to waste time with the swordsman by shooting him as he showed him how skilled he was.[1]

Behind the scenes[]

The Arab Swordsman was portrayed by the late stuntman Terry Richards in Raiders of the Lost Ark.[1] Richards later went on to provide stunts in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.[8]


A moment from the intended battle between Indiana Jones and the swordsman.

The sequence depicting the swordsman in Raiders of the Lost Ark was dramatically shortened from conception. The film's script, written by Lawrence Kasdan, originally intended to have Indy fight the swordsman with lengthy choreography and demonstration of his bullwhip, including a gag where the swordsman accidentally cleaves through a tough piece of meat from the market stall of a grateful vendor who thanks the swordsman afterwards.[9]

However, Harrison Ford, along with most of the crew, was suffering from dysentery. Ford then suggested they "just shoot the sucker", and director Steven Spielberg agreed, resulting in the biggest laugh of the film and one of its most memorable sequences.[9]

In both Campbell Black's novelization and the comic book adaptation by Marvel Comics, the Arab Swordsman is absent from the story. Indy never fights him in Cairo as he witnesses the "death" of Marion Ravenwood immediately after getting rid of the bandits who first try to kill him.[10][11]


Indy searching his empty holster.

The Arab Swordsman's brief scene is humorously referenced in the prequel Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. After Indy escapes the temple, two Thuggee swordsmen challenge him (even briefly showing off their skill with the sword much like the Arab Swordsman), and he smugly reaches for his gun. However, this time Indy can do nothing but smile sheepishly and fight them with his bullwhip after he remembers that his gun was lost by Willie Scott earlier in the film during the Shanghai car chase. The music cue confirms the homage to Raiders of the Lost Ark, despite the second film actually taking place a year earlier to the first.[4] The first trailer for the upcoming Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny included an ironic reference to this scene as well, featuring a much older Indy cracking his whip to scare a buyer and his men, only for all of them to be startled for a while and then revealing their weapons, forcing Jones to duck for cover as the buyer's men shoot at his direction.[12]

In a 1980s commercial for Kenner's The Adventures of Indiana Jones toyline, as the Cairo Swordsman, the character works with Major Toht to trap Indiana Jones. However, the archaeologist quickly escapes and the pair subsequently decide to flee.[13]

The player, as Indiana Jones, encounters the swordsman in the Cairo mission of Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures. The swordsman will not attack the player and, as in the film, Jones drops him with a single shot.[14]

In LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures, the Arab Swordsman's role is the same as in the movie in that Indy finds and defeats him, which causes him to disassemble as LEGO minifigures do when they die, though no one recovers his sword as only his henchmen are around the scene. This is shown in a cutscene, but in actual gameplay of the Cairo level, the player can encounter multiple swordsmen. In the portable versions, however, the Arab Swordsman (depicted as an old man) is never shot by Indy and fights both Indy and Marion, though mysteriously vanishes upon being defeated.[15]

In the game's sequel, the Arab Swordsman again appears in a cutscene, now sporting a turban like his physical minifigure, and blocks all of Indy's bullets, but after a monkey steals his sword, Sallah takes advantage of this and knocks out the Arab Swordsman with a banana. In actual gameplay, the player must use other bandits’ swords to disarm the multiple swordsmen who attack them before being able to kill them for good.[16]


Non canonical appearances[]


Notes and references[]

External links[]