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Dragon (Wu Xia) by Chan Kwong Wing and Peter Kam Pui Tat

Dragon (Wu Xia)

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Dragon (Wu Xia) (Soundtrack) by Chan Kwong Wing and Peter Kam Pui Tat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dragon (Wu Xia) (Soundtrack) by Chan Kwong Wing and Peter Kam Pui Tat

Dragon (Wu Xia)
Composed by Chan Kwong Wing and Peter Kam Pui Tat
Moviescore Media (2013)

Rating: 5/10

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“…when it boils down to it, this Dragon (Wu Xia) only flies on one wing.”

One Wing Style
Review by William Bard

 

2011’s DRAGON is a positively received, Hong-Kong-produced martial arts thriller set in 1917. DRAGON’s score served as my introduction to the music of CHAN KWONG WING, and I’m very thankful that it did. Unfortunately, I cannot say I am equally grateful for it serving as my introduction to the music of PETER KAM PUI TAT, whose contribution to the score may be more substantial in terms of amount of tracks, but as music it is just sort of… there.

KWONG WING’s main theme, “Blood of the Dragon” (1), is easily one of the highlights of the score, beginning with a James-Bond-esque theme in the strings that quickly builds, eventually throwing in a traditional Chinese flute to complete the soundscape. More of KWONG WING’s brilliance can be heard in “The Village” (3), which begins with a medieval-sounding harp solo, before adding a full string section to the mix. Absolutely gorgeous, if not short.

Tracks like “The Thieves” (2) and “Hidden Dragon” (5) are much more instrumentally experimental than the previous tracks, employing extensive percussion, electric guitar, ambience, etc., not unlike some of the work of BEAR MCCREARY on the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA series. Good filler music, but not much more.

Now, PETER KAM PUI TAT’s half of the album: tracks like “The Heart of Fear” (8) make me ponder why they were even included on the album to begin with. There are a couple mediocre, standard tension-building string segments in “You Have to Die” (10) and “Infinite Sorrow” (12), but these do not make up for all the minutes of lost opportunities that fill the remainder of his tracks. The closest connection to the KWONG WING score I feel is in the closing minute or so of “Aftermath” (11), which contains a nice harp solo reminiscent of “The Village”.

This music is, as a whole, noticeably less refined than KWONG WING’s work, and at times feels like a completely different score. His usage of Chinese traditional instruments may seem like a natural thing for a movie made in Hong Kong, but when you’ve been preceded by a largely orchestral score with only a hint at ethnic instruments, utilizing them as the foundation for some of your tracks is not a good idea. As a listener, it took me out of the moment, not to mention PUI TAT’s significantly inferior writing for the orchestra.

A bit more good news, though: the album is bookended by KWONG WING. We get two more tracks, “Blood in the Stable” (14) and “Father, This Is the End” (15), which, while in my opinion are still not quite as strong as his work earlier in the album, serve as a sufficient closing to this score. Overall, the score to DRAGON is a bit of a mixed bag. If the middle 8 tracks were removed, I know for me at least it’d be a much more enjoyable and cohesive listening experience. I guess at least now I know why KWONG WING’s name is listed first on the cover. But when it boils down to it, this dragon only flies on one wing.


 

Rating: 5/10


Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Blood of the Dragon 1:10  ****
2 The Thieves 3:22  ***
3 The Village 0:57  *****
4 The Inspector 2:56  ***
5 Hidden Dragon 6:09  ***
6 Desperation 1:44  **
7 Unforgotten Past 1:44  **
8 The Heart of Fear 2:06  *
9 You Have to Die 1:40  **
10 Sins of the Past 1:30  *
11 Infinite Sorrow 3:04  **
12 Aftermath 1:32  **
13 Return to Perdition 3:28  **
14 Blood in the Stable 3:02  ***
15 Father, This is the End 8:58  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 43 minutes  

 

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