ATLA/LOK Major Fight Analysis Part 2: S1 LOK

In this second part to my fight analysis blog, I'll be talking about some of the main fights from Season 1 of Legend of Korra. (Unlike my last post, where I did all of ATLA in one blog, I'll be breaking up LOK by season. That way it doesn't take as long).

So yeah, let's get started. Enjoy my incredible insight and brilliance.

That was sarcasm, btw.

1. Korra vs White Lotus Firebenders

The very first fight scene we see from Korra makes it very clear that our new Avatar is not Aang. Korra's aggressive, powerful, eager to prove her bending abilities.

This is the only time we see Korra in a fire vs fire battle, and she doesn't disappoint. We can see plenty of traditional fire bending is this fight-from offensive strikes to circular blocks.

While these fire benders aren't exactly high tier benders, they aren't incompetent fodder either. They showcase decent raw power and skill, above that of, say, your average Fire Nation soldier. Still, they are no challenge to Korra.

2. Korra vs the Triad

If you haven't realized yet that Korra will be a different Avatar than Aang, this fight scene should convince you. Korra sees an injustice, and she quickly steps up to put down the aggressors. She's strong, decisive, and confident-with good reason. In quick succession she takes down the three Triad benders in their respective elements, showcasing both her bending ability, physical prowess, and reaction abilities (Remember how Toph outreacted the Boulder? Korra essentially does the same thing here to the poor Triad guy).

Granted, once again, these guys are hardly high tier benders. They're not a challenge to Korra, merely an opportunity for her to demonstrate her abilities, all with a distinctive Korra flair. Waterbending involves redirecting attacks and shifting defense to offense-Korra does that with characteristic speed and directness. Earth bending involves neutral jing-Korra strikes the earth bender at just the right moment. Fire bending involves direct attacks and focused offense-Korra casually charges through the fire bender's attacks (and then physically overpowers him instead of using fire bending, but hey-it worked).

This fight also shows the consequences of bending battles when Korra inadvertently causes damage to multiple shops while subduing the Triad. Republic City is the most urban environment we have seen in Avatar, and the large scale bending battles more common to ATLA would have consequences here. There's a reason for benders to focus on more concentrated and (maybe) less powerful attacks.

3. Mako, Korra vs Chi Blockers

Ah, the infamous chi blocker fight. This is an interesting one.

Yes, Mako and Korra lost to a couple of no-name chi blockers. There's no denying that. But does it mean Korra's therefore a terrible fighter? Not really.

First, these chi blockers are quite good. Like, the closest we're ever going to see to Ty Lee good (that doesn't mean they're as good as Ty Lee, just the closest to her we see from the Equalists). They show impressive agility, making impressive leaps and dancing around firebendng attacks. They also have quite respectable chi blocking skill, quickly landing strikes on Mako and Korra to disable their bending ability. It's quite evident that these chi blockers are very well trained to deal with benders.

Second, Korra's completely unfamiliar with these kinds of opponents. She's spent her whole life training to fight benders, not chi blockers. She doesn't even know what chi blocking is, so there's no reason for her to expect it. This lack of knowledge leads her to underestimate the chi blockers, and by the time she realizes what they can do it's too late.

So yeah, Korra lost. But that is due more to inexperience and surprise than to weakness.

Really, if anything, it's kind of refreshing to see nameless opponents actually be skilled and provide a challenge. Not to mention the surprise revelation that the Equalists had chi blockers. They're dark, mysterious, and menacing, the complete opposite of Ty Lee. This scene makes it clear that, while Korra's enemies will be mainly non benders, they are well prepared and more than capable of taking on benders and winning. This is the first time we've seen Korra lose a fight, showing us she has her work cut out for her.

Also the Naga save-reminiscent of the multiple times Appa saved Katara and Sokka from the non benders Ty Lee and Mai.

4. Amon vs Lightning Bolt Zolt

This is the first introduction to Amon, and he quickly proves himself a formidable villain for the Avatar. He easily closes the distance against Lightning Bolt Zolt (who, from this limited appearance, seems to be a competent fire bender), even dodging Zolt's lightning from close range. Then he removes Zolt's bending, turning the merciful and just ability Aang gained at the end of ATLA into something dark and sinister. Korra's impressed, and with good reason.

5. Mako and Bolin vs the Lieutenant

This fight introduces us to Amon's Lieutenant, and it establishes him as a capable nonbending opponent. While they're not high tier benders, Mako and Bolin are at least capable fighters, and yet they're completely unable to handle the Lieutenant. He's fast, skilled, and dangerous.

Korra also showcases her decisive action in this scene. She doesn't waste time talking or announcing her presence, and she has no qualms about cheapshotting the Lieutenant, quickly taking him out and rescuing Mako and Bolin.

This sets up (imo) a bit of unresolved conflict between Korra and the Lieutenant, foreshadowing their fight on top of the pro-bending arena.

5. Korra, Tarrlok, task force vs Equalists

This isn't exactly a major fight scene, or a showcase of important bending or even significant opponents. However, I'm including it because it's so very different from the fights we got on ATLA. It's an organized raid, stealthy, quick, clean and efficient. It shows that the Equalists aren't the only ones who can use stealth and ambush tactics. Korra doesn't use her Avatar status, she just participates alongside all the other benders.

This also seems to establish an alliance between Korra and Tarrlok (let's be honest, did anyone ever really think Tarrlok was a good guy?).

Finally, this scene also establishes that not all the Equalist fodder are at the same skill level. While there are some who are as good as the ones that beat Korra and Mako, plenty others are still in training.

6. Korra, Lin vs Equalists, Lieutenant

Probably one of my favorite fight scenes from Book 1. Korra and Lin, who have never exactly gotten along, come together to fight back against the Equalists. They quickly develop into a solid team, with both of them helping the other out of jams.

Lin gets to showcase her fighting style for the first time in the show, and we get to see this new metalbending in action. Her cables are quick, efficient, and quite versatile, proving to be excellent weapons of choice.

The Lieutenant gets another significant appearance, stunning Lin as she attempts to grapple to Amon's airship. His electrified sticks prove highly effective weapons against metalbending armor (again, foreshadowing the Lieutenant's future fight with Lin on Air Temple Island).

Korra and the Lieutenant get their rematch here, resulting in a decisive victory for Korra. Unlike her fight with the chi blockers, Korra's ready for the Lieutenant's tactics, and she's ready to beat him at his own game. She combines her fire bending and hand to hand skills to dominate her intense close quarters battle with the Lieutenant, overcoming him.

Benders are usually mid-range fighters, and often closing the gap is the key for a non bender to be able to beat them. However, Korra shows here that she is more than capable of holding her own at mid or close range.

7. Team Avatar vs Hiroshi and Equalists

A very interesting fight scene full of revelations. Very intense and quite unique.

First, the introduction of mecha tanks. Legend of Korra has already shown significant technological advances compared to ATLA, but this is the most unique technology we have seen yet. Just as Korra was adjusting to fight the nonbending Equalist fighters, the Equalists come up with a new kind of opponent to challenge the benders.

While the mechs are designed to deal with all benders, they are particularly well suited to counter metal benders, as the electric attacks take advantage of their metal cables.

I'd like to take a moment to appreciate Lin in this scene. She's fast, intense, and savage, tearing into the mech and driving it backwards.

Both Korra and Lin get taken out, but both times it was by a surprise attack. Just worth mentioning.

Also Tenzin. People sometimes say that he didn't show he could fight until Book 3, and while to some degree that's true, he's the last man standing against the mechs here for a reason.

And finally, Asami. Major moment for Asami here as she comes to grips with her father's actions and chooses her side. She said she had martial arts training, but this is the first time we get to see it in action. She quickly takes out the Lieutenant, shocking everyone.

8. Korra vs Tarrlok

This is the first (and really the only) master level bending battle in Season 1. It's a change of pace from the bender vs non bender battles, and a chance for Korra to pit herself against a fellow master.

First, I'd like to point out that Korra doesn't immediately attack Tarrlok. While she's forceful with him, she doesn't start the fight. She hopes that he can be reasoned with, and he ultimately proves otherwise

Tarrlok demonstrates hight-tier skill in this brief fight. His water sphere is an impressive defensive display, and, like a master waterbender should, he turns this defense into an offense with his ice needles. It's a combo well suited to counter Korra's fire bending.

Korra showcases some impressive agility in dodging the barrage as well as respectable speed in blocking one of the needles. Tarrlok does score a hit, but it's not enough to hinder Korra. Tarok's barrage forced her back, but she quickly recovers and transitions from fire bending to earthbending. While Tarok's defense is quite solid against fire bending, it's ill-equipped to handle Korra's earthbending. Korra changes the environment and gains what appears to be a decisive upper hand. If Tarrlok were a normal waterbender, this would be checkmate.

But then Tarrlok pulls out his trump card: bloodbending. An ability even more unexpected than the Equalist's chi blocking, Tarrlok turns Korra's seemingly inevitable victory into a decisive loss. With his incredible ability to blood bend at any time, Tarrlok goes from a highly skilled waterbender to possibly the most dangerous bender we have seen thus far on Avatar (ATLA or LOK).

9. Amon vs Tarrlok (and Korra vs Equalists)

Tarrlok has had his moment of glory, but when Amon makes his return he reminds everyone who the main villain of this season is. Tarrlok just established himself as one of the most dangerous benders ever seen, but his seemingly invincible ability proves itself to be ineffective against Amon (for reasons not yet explained). With this encounter, Amon becomes even more mysterious and powerful than he already was. Korra, who can only hear this event, realizes she's in over her head. Tarrlok was already an insurmountable foe, but Amon showed himself to be even more dangerous.

While the arrival of Amon seemed unfortunate, it also ultimately benefitted Korra. The Lieutenant was looking for some revenge, but he doesn't get it as Korra's quick thinking and powerful bending enable her to escape.

Amon and Korra see each other as she's leaving in a brief, intense moment of recognition and conflict. Korra makes an effort to attack, but after being blood bent and trapped for some time she's hardly in peak condition. She recognizes that she can't face Amon, and she flees.

This fight establishes the idea that Amon may be a villain Korra can't beat in straight up combat. He's more powerful than anything we've seen thus far in Avatar, and Korra will have to find another way to overcome him.

10. Tenzin vs Equalists

Tenzin's first solo fight scene. It's brief and could be easily overlooked, but here's proof from Season 1 that Tenzin knows how to fight. His beard sense warns him of the Equalist ambush just in time, and a powerful airspout easily takes down his attackers, leaving Tenzin unfazed and ready to get back to business.

11. Team Avatar vs Equalist Mechs

Tenzin's been ambushed by the Equalists, and despite putting up a fight he's ultimately overwhelmed. Enter Korra and team Avatar, ready for a rematch with the Equalist mechs.

This time the mechs don't have the advantage of surprise, and while they're still a challenge team Avatar is able to overcome them. Korra gets a chance to showcase her waterbendng, quickly and efficiently disabling a mech. Meanwhile, Mako gets to demonstrate his mastery of lightning bending by redirecting the mech's electrical attack. Asami showcases her skill as she clears through multiple soldiers with ease, and Tenzin gets to demonstrate his strength as he one-shots the final mech.

12. Lin, Jinora, Ikki, Meelo vs Lieutenant, Equalists

Lin gets a chance to show her stuff in this scene, as she fends off the hoard of Equalist with a combination of earthbending and metalbending. She's a capable warrior, dealing with opponents from all sides and more than holding her own.

When the Lieutenant arrives, he gets a chance to demonstrate his own skill. Throughout the series we've seen the Equalists prepared to take on benders, particularly metalbending cops. Nothing shows this better than the ease with which the Lieutenant counters Lin's metalbending attack by shocking her through her cables, almost as though his shock sticks were designed for just such a move. Lin's good, but she's facing an opponent who's well prepared to counter her exact style.

What the Equalists were not ready for, however, was the attack of the airbending kids. In a dramatic rescue, Jinora, Ikki, and Meelo prove themselves to be excellent air benders and fighters, taking the Equalists by surprise with moves they were unprepared to go up against.

13. Korra, United Forces vs Equalists

Once again, the Equalists demonstrate their prep and innovation, abilities that have consistently been crucial to their success. Hiroshi reveals his newly designed airplanes, surprising the United Forces and Team Avatar.

Korra gets to show some skillful waterbending, taking out multiple planes on her own.

Iroh II also gets to make a memorable first appearance, using skillful fire bending to shoot down planes and punch a missile (granted, that didn't go too well for him, but still. He punched a missile. That's pretty cool).

Ultimately, it's clear that the Equalists will win the fight, and Korra makes a strategic retreat with General Iroh.

14. Korra, Mako, Tenzin vs Amon, Equalists

Korra's final encounter with Amon and the final fight of the series. A lot happens here.

Part 1: Rescuing the Airbenders

Somehow Amon managed to capture Tenzin and his family (it's never actually explained how), and it's up to Mako and Korra to rescue them. Mako showcases his instant lightning, and together he and Korra use some nice fire bending to reach the stage and engage the Equalists.

Tenzin quickly joins the fight after he is freed by Korra. He proves his worth by managing to blast Amon off the stage with a nice widespread attack.

With Tenzin having cleared the way, the group makes their exit. Tenzin and kids go to rescue Pema and the baby, while Mako and Korra separate to get Amon to follow them.

Part 2: Removing Korra's bending

Korra and Mako know about Amon's blood bending abilities, and now he knows that they know. With no reason to hide his abilities, Amon easily subdues Korra and Mako, rendering both of them helpless. He then removes Korra's bending, fulfilling his early threat to destroy Korra. After all, what is the Avatar without the ability to bend all four elements?

The Lieutenant makes his final appearance, and it's an interesting moment between him and Amon. We see the Lieutenant's sincerity about the Equalist cause, and the pain Amon's deception caused him. This is the first time we get to start to see the Lieutenant as a character instead of just an opponent to fight. He tries to attack Amon, but it's useless, and Amon casually tosses him aside. There's no love for the Lieutenant to be had from him.

Finally, there's Mako. He's the last person Amon's worried about, but that's a mistake Amon will regret. While Amon's been removing Korra's bending and dealing with the Lieutenant, Mako's had a chance to work against the blood bending ever so slightly, managing to get in just the right position to unleash a bolt of lightning on Amon. It's an impressive skill showing for Mako, and it allows him to make a brief escape with Korra.

Part 3: Korra airbends

Ultimately, however, Mako's effort was not enough to escape Amon. He catches up with them and prepares to take Mako's bending, knowing this time not to underestimate him.

Korra, watching this, finally manages to overcome her airbending block. With her other bending abilities removed, airbending is all she has left, and, to the surprise of everyone, she is able to use it to separate Mako from Amon. Taking advantage of Amon's surprise, she buffets him with repeated blows. He attempts to stop her with blood bending, but his hold is not complete, and she is able to blast him out the window.

When Amon lands in the ocean, his mask and fake scar are washed off. Acting on instinct, Amon comes to the surface on a waterspout, accidentally revealing his bending to all of the onlookers.

Korra did not beat Amon in a bending battle. She "beat" him by causing him to reveal his deception and lose his followers. With his authority broken, Amon has no reason to stay. He could have finished Korra and Mako if he wanted to, but he chose otherwise.

Not exactly your usual finale fight

Well, that's what I've got for Season 1. Enjoy. Season 2 will be out at some point in the future.

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