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
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
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.