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Impressive romantic action score
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 2007 Cinema Pictures; review copyright (c) 2009 James Southall.
A Vietnamese film released in that country in 2006, I don't suppose too many people elsewhere have seen The Rebel, but from its description it sounds like it could be more than worth it. The film concerns the French colonialists' attempts to quell the growing resistance against their rule during the 1920s, with an old-fashioned romance at the heart of it all. I'd certainly like to see it, though don't much fancy my chances. It's mentioned here, of course, because its original score has been released by MovieScore Media. It's the second time they have worked with composer Christopher Wong once before, in 2007 releasing his excellent music from Journey to the Fall.
You don't find too many particularly good themes in Hollywood action scores any more, but there's one here in this Vietnamese one - introduced in the opening "A Letter to the People", the sweeping, romantic piece is developed further in "Shower and Wine" and in particular the excellent "If We Could Forget Who We Are", which sounds like a cheesy song title (lyrics no doubt by Will Jennings) but is one of the album's standout pieces. It doesn't go over the top, but makes quite an impression.
Elsewhere, the undoubted highlight is the action music. Wong develops it beautifully, with a distinctly Goldsmithian approach, building the smallest fragments up into rollicking pieces. The orchestra is small, but he makes it sound large, not just through the use of percussion but also - it's not a lost skill after all - through the orchestration. Pieces like "The Assassination", "Escaping from the Army" and "Motorcycle Escape" are fine examples of how to construct this type of thing on a budget. There's some decent suspense music too, particularly in "Cat and Mouse" - a slightly old-fashioned feel to it certainly helps, a reminder of when film music used to prod and gently poke rather than hit you over the head. A fine album - highly recommended.