November 2001 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Rush Hour 2  
  Conducted by Lalo Schifrin Hollywood Studio Symphony, OST
  VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-6279   [52:30]

Rush Hour 2

Schifrin was director Brett Ratner’s dream composer, having fallen in love with his "Enter The Dragon" score when growing up. He secured him for the film "Money Train" during the 90s simply as away of establishing a relationship to build toward his dream project – "Rush Hour". And now they’re back.

After "Main Title" delivers a grand (albeit truncated) statement of the first film’s theme, Schifrin moves into surprisingly new territory. Neither director nor composer wanted to retread their earlier territory with electric guitars and drum loops. What explodes into action immediately here is a full-blooded orchestral score of the type unheard of for some time. "Out of the Way" has some amazing brass playing atop complex rhythmic structures beat out on all manner of percussion. Also some flittering woodwind elements. The majority of the disc is made up of strong action material, but is thankfully broken up by quieter cues. For instance, "Mu Shu Parlor" is as delicate as oriental music can be with fragile winds and lightly tapped percussion.

The other breaks with pace come from two background source pieces used during a section of the movie in Las Vegas lounges. There’s jazzy lightness from Neil Hefti in "Lil Darlin’" and from Frank Foster in "Shiny Stockings". "Nevada Mood" from Schifrin is an only slightly more upbeat extension of these two.

Back into the thick of the action (which is never written or played for laughs), "The Cosmo is Las Vegas" opens on thunderous oriental percussion while "Parlor Fight" opens on a great variation of the original theme on woods buried beneath some tension sustaining effects.

One note about the recording – some very close-miked sections of the orchestra leads to the occasional noticeable noise. For example early in "Undercover Agents" the bongo entry is preceded by an audible clunk against the instrument. Since volume is generally quite high (!) this won’t overly distract.

Paul Tonks


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