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.


Hired by Nazi intelligence agents operating in Cairo during 1936, the Arab Swordsman was under orders to kill Indiana Jones. He challenged the archaeologist to a duel during a frantic search for the kidnapped Marion Ravenwood. 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. However, Jones, deciding he had no time for a protracted fight against the flamboyant swordsman, simply took out his revolver and shot him. The Cairo onlookers cheered Jones' action and ran off with the assassin's sword.

Behind the scenes

The Arab Swordsman was portrayed by the late Terry Richards in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

During the development of the third draft of the film's script, written by Lawrence Kasdan, the Arab Swordsman was originally going to be a chinese samurai, because it was originally planned that Indiana Jones would steal the Headpiece to the Staff of Ra from the Chinese Emperor Tengtu Hok in his palace, but that would have to face his samurai and have to escape in a gong. However, the idea was rejected and most of the elements planned for that scene were later recycled for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, although the samurai was finally included in Raiders and introduced as a swordsman on the Cairo scene.[1][2]

The scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark as shot for the film was dramatically shortened; the original script intended Indy to fight the swordsman with a lengthy choreography and usage of his whip. However, Harrison Ford along with most of the crew were suffering from dysentery, and could not wear their trousers for more than a few minutes. Ford then suggested they "just shoot the f***er". Steven Spielberg agreed, resulting in the biggest laugh of the film and one of its most memorable sequences.[3]

The player fights this character in the Cairo mission of Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures. The swordsman will not attack the player, and as in the film, the player defeats him by shooting him with the pistol.


Indy searching his empty holster.

The 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 whip after he remembers that his gun was lost by Willie Scott earlier in the film. The music cue confirms the homage to Raiders of the Lost Ark.

In LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues, the swordsman will block all of Indy's bullets, but after a Monkey steals his sword, Sallah Mohammed Faisel el-Kahir take advantage of this and knocks out the swordsman with a banana.



Notes and references

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.