The Magistrate proves a worthy physical opponent in The Mandalorian; just as well, given the actor’s connection to martial arts legend Bruce Lee.
The Magistrate proves a worthy physical opponent in The Mandalorian; just as well, given the actor’s connection to martial arts legend Bruce Lee. Played by Diana Lee Inosanto, Morgan Elsbeth — the Magistrate of Calodan (on the planet Corvus) — makes her first Star Wars appearance in chapter 13 of The Mandalorian, wielding a Beskar spear and doing battle with Jedi Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson). Tano demands that Elsbeth give her the information that she possesses; namely, the location of Grand Admiral Thrawn — Elsbeth’s master and a fan-favorite Expanded Universe character who was reintroduced into the canon proper in the animated TV show Star Wars Rebels.
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In exchange for peace with Tano, Elsbeth offers to spare Calodan lives — seen to be torturing her citizens and holding them in electrified cages. When Tano and the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) storm the city, Elsbeth engages the former in a duel — her Beskar spear a worthy match against Tano’s twin lightsabers in a sequence reminiscent of Toyisha Fujita’s Lady Snowblood (which, in turn, influenced Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill). Tano, of course, wins the fight and presumably executes Elsbeth off-screen, and later giving her Beskar spear to the Mandalorian, providing him a fighting chance against any lightsaber-wielders he might encounter in the not-so-distant future.
Diana Lee Inosanto, the actor who plays the Magistrate, is an experienced martial artist and stuntwoman. She was trained by her father, Dan Inosanto, who was a student and friend of Bruce Lee. Diana is, in fact, Bruce Lee’s godchild (her middle name: an homage to the late actor) and recently contributed a foreword to Fiaz Rafiq’s biography Bruce Lee: The Life of a Legend. Inosanto writes that she grew up calling Lee “Uncle Bruce” and was fairly oblivious to his stardom at the time.
That said, Inosanto also writes that Lee “broke down the barriers of racism, kicked his way through the walls of Hollywood discrimination, and bridged the worlds of East and West” with his work. Funnily enough, “bridging the worlds of East and West” was basically George Lucas’s pitch for Star Wars; his sci-fi epic inspired largely by western and samurai films. Sadly, this ethos didn’t ring true in regards to representation within the franchise — something that Disney are slowly correcting.
As for Diana Lee Inosanto, the actor and stunt-performer has appeared in numerous productions since the late 1980s, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek: Enterprise, and Alita: Battle Angel to name just a few. Alita director Robert Rodriguez is also set to direct an episode of The Mandalorian season 2 — a fitting addition, given his history with the show’s cast. His influence is especially prominent in Inosanto’s episode, which also features Dawson and actor Michael Biehn (who both starred in Rodriguez’s Grindhouse).
While the Magistrate is presumed dead, this wasn’t explicitly referenced, nor witnessed on-screen, meaning Inosanto could return to the role, though this is admittedly unlikely. Either way, Diana Lee Inosanto was a wonderful (if brief) addition to The Mandalorian, and the Magistrate will no-doubt be explored in other media.
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