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The Challenge (Soundtrack) by Jerry Goldsmith

Tracksounds Rating = 7/10

Composed and Conducted by Jerry Goldsmith
Orchestrations by Arthur Morton
Produced by Ford A. Thaxton; Exec. Producer Luc Van de Ven
Released by Prometheus Records, April 2000

Track Title Time Rating Goldsmith's Challenge
by Christopher Coleman

On the heels of Prometheus Records' two recent Goldsmith releases, Contract on Cherry Street, and Breakout, comes the Jerry Goldsmith’s score for the 1982 film, The Challenge.  Although composer Goldsmith has scored films that centered around, or at least skirted around, the Far East (Tora! Tora! Tora!, The Sand Pebbles), The Challenge uniquely presented just that for the composer.  The liner notes detail the dilemma which Goldsmith faced with this film.  How does one make it fit the setting of Japan without patronizing it or, on the other hand, losing the western audience's attention?  Goldsmith takes the only available road:  an ever fluctuating recipe of eastern and western musical ingredients.

What we have here is release that ebbs and flows like waters of the Sea of Japan.  One minute it is soft and contemplative and the next it is unforgivingly violent.   Composer Jerry Goldsmith has shown, over the years, that he has mastered both types of film music.  The score for The Challenge is a showcase, and a great sampler, for Goldsmith’s range and of his varying styles that span the decades.

The opening track is mesmerizing at it begins solemnly and simply with the Japanese flute, the shakuhachi.  The Main Titles continue to build ever so easily into a beautiful crescendo of strings before being rudely interrupted with a percussive blast in true Goldsmith fashion. 

This little blast brings us into that style of Goldsmith that makes his music so distinctive and which Goldsmith fans hold in such high regard.  After this engaging opening track, he reverts to his famous style of driving percussions, blaring brass, and sizzling strings.  The next two tracks, The Wrong Sword  and Over the Top/ Fish Market  exhibit the brash style of action music that is unmistakably Goldsmith.  This bold style reasserts itself at the conclusion of the film and this CD with tracks 15 and 16, “Surprise Visitor/ Forced Entry and “As You Wish”/ End Title.

Track 4, Half An Equal, finds  Goldsmith simmering things down with a more relaxed piece: one that is somber, slightly sinister and somewhat reminiscent of other scores from this Goldsmith era:  Twilight Zone: The Movie, Star Trek:  The Motion Picture.  Tracks such as this are the true highlights of The Challenge.  A similar mood is found in track 6, “Let’s Talk.  Actually, this track is even more of a “lighthearted” nature and feature beautiful string arrangements as the conclusion of track 1.  Pushing even further is track 13, “Stay With Me,” which actually travels into the realm of musical mushiness, but nevertheless, provides a welcome respite from the aggressive cues.

Remarkably, after 18 years of shelf-sitting, this recording is very clean, thanks to two original two-inch master reels that were obtained from UCLA’s film library.  The liner notes are certainly above average.  Written by Gary Kester, we are treated to a great deal of background information on the development of the film and a few closing paragraphs on Jerry Goldsmith’s music for the film.

Goldsmith’s score for The Challenge is at the very least, an interesting score, mostly due to the Japanese flavor that he was able to successfully mix into his more familiar musical elements.  The Main Title and theme are certainly the most enjoyable portions and as often as it appears, it is always welcome. This engaging mix of east and west helps to set this score apart from many of Goldsmith’s other works and warrants inclusion in most film music fan’s libraries.

1 Main Title 4:55 ****
2 The Wrong Sword 3:50 **
3 Over the Top/ Fish Market 5:20 **
4 Half an Equal 2:54 ***
5 Lonely Road 1:57 ***
6 "Let's Talk" 2:16 ***
7 Interlude 1:02 ***
8 "Can't We do It?" 5:12 ***
9 The Pit 4:48 ***
10 Double Cross 5:50 ***
11 Bamboo Forest 0:30 ***
12 The Traitor 3:22 **
13 "Stay with Me" 4:25 ***
14 "I Will Go" 1:20 ****
15 Surprise Visitor/ Forced Entry 6:17 ***
16 "As You Wish"/ End Title 5:29 ***
  Total Playing Time 60:17    



 Originality 7  

Music Selection


Themes/ Composition


CD Length


Track Order




Final Score

Post your thoughts about The Challenge or this review at  The Dominium

Other reviews:

But what lingers in my memory long after the music is over, is the slower,more lyrical parts. It may be standard emotional Goldsmith of the late 70sand it doesn't offer anything new, but I like it anyway. The 4 minute "StayWith Me" is a highlight and offers traditional lush strings, with soloperformances by horn and woodwinds. Nice and butterish. As is the sound.Well, not butterish, but very nice, indeed.

Andreas Lindahl - Score!

Composer Jerry Goldsmith
Jerry Goldsmith

The Challenge (Soundtrack) by Jerry Goldsmith of the only real reasons score fans would have to watch this film would be to hear Jerry Goldsmith's rich, rousing score, which to date has only been available on a poor-quality bootleg coupled with The List of Adrian Messenger. Having now heard Jerry's terrific music, I almost feel compelled to seek out The Challenge to see how it all fits together on celluloid - surely the sign of a good score.

Jonathan Broxton - Movie Music U.K.


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All artwork from Heaven and Earth is exclusive property of Prometheus Records (c) 2000.  Its appearance is for informational purposes only.