January 2000 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

Lalo SCHIFRIN Rush Hour OST ALEPH RECORDS 005 [47:33]

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According to director Brett Ratner, Rush Hour is an attempt to revitalise the martial arts movie genre, with a combination of Eastern action and Western comedy, using as a template his favourite Enter the Dragon with Bruce Lee. Since Bruce Lee was unavailable, he opted for Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker to deliver the comic element and composer Lalo Schifrin to compose the score. Schifrin is no stranger to American- produced martial arts spectaculars, having previously scored Enter the Dragon.

Schifrin's score is a colourful blend of Chinese music and funky urban grooves. The CD fires off with a dynamic, hard-edged, reminiscent of Schifrin's 70's style main theme spiced with exotic Chinese instrumentation, guitars, tam-tam crashes, layered-upon-layer driving beat. This enjoyable theme is not visited very often in the subsequent tracks, except in a more elaborated version in the final track, but is used as a template for the action themes used throughout the score.

The composer carefully balances the oriental elements in his music with western motifs, producing an entertaining mixture. The action tracks are thrilling and vibrant, based upon eastern orchestrations, percussions and rattling synths, and dominate the largest part of the score. This doesn't mean that the score lacks a sentimental touch though! This is very subtly introduced by "Soo Yung's Theme", a delicate and sensitive piece of music, flavoured with eastern winds, synthesisers and orchestra that provide the track with a touch of magnificence, especially towards the end. There are even tracks of pure Chinese music (at least the western idea of what Chinese music is). These are quite predictable and unoriginal on their own, but well suited in the overall context of the movie. Some slow, atonal passages make their appearance, such as in "$50 million Ransom", building up a sense of suspense. They also act as break from the continuous action.

It is an enjoyable score, containing many highlights and fun moments. It never becomes really boring, except in the ‘pure’ Chinese tracks if you don't have a taste for Chinese music. Schifrin's hippiness is displayed in all its glory in this score.


Kostas Anagnostou

Kostas Anagnostou

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