Anyway, part of what makes Highlander so awesome is that it manages to bring the ancient art of sword-fighting into the modern world. Because, clearly, if you're wanting to kill someone these days, using anything other than a modern weapon of some sort (gun, bomb, etc...) is going to make you look like a bloodthirsty psycho.
So, our hero needs a reason to resort to using a sword to combat the villain, if our story is set anytime after the invention of practical sidearms. Highlander neatly brings swordfighting to the modern world by making the protagonist and antagonist immortals that can only be killed by having their heads cleaved from their bodies. Neatly sidesteps the issue of why they don't just shoot each other, and also lends a certain gravitas to the final battle. Like I said, Highlander is awesome.
Anyway, this got me thinking about other films/books that bring swordplay out of the past and into the present/future. Star Wars is an obvious example. At first glance, duelling with lightsabers does seem a little pointless - why can't they just shoot Darth Vader? The first film hints at the reason, as we see Luke training in the art of deflecting blaster bolts with the lightsaber itself. However, in the second film we see that Darth Vader can stop a blaster bolt by force of will alone (well, by willing with the Force). So, unlike in Highlander in which getting shot isn't fatal, in Star Wars actually shooting a powerful Jedi/Sith is nigh-on impossible. Hence the lightsaber.
Similarly, Dune has the concept of the personal shield that can stop anything fast-moving. So any kind of gun will be unable to penetrate it, necessitating the use of a rather odd slow-moving duel with edged weapons.
Can anyone else think of any good examples of books/movies that gives a good reason to bring sword-fighting out of the past? Does anyone have any examples in which sword-fighting was conspicuously anachronistic?