Chinese Zodiac

Composed By: Nathan Wang

Distributed by: Plaza Mayor Company Ltd.

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                Reported to be Jackie Chan’s last movie before retirement, Chinese Zodiac (also known as CZ12 or Amour God III: Chinese Zodiac) finds Chan starring as a procurer of sorts.  Working for a dealer in antiques named Lawrence Morgan (Oliver Platt), Asian Hawk is assigned to find twelve sculpted heads, each representing the signs of the Chinese Zodiac, which were looted from Beijing by European conquerors in 1860.

                The musical score of Chinese Zodiac was composed by American composer Nathan Wang.  Wang’s love for music came very early in life, when he began studying classical piano at the age of three.  His father introduced him to jazz.  By the age of nine, he was studying musical composition and Wang graduated from the University of Southern California at the age of thirteen.  Wang began his career after being discovered performing piano at a five-star restaurant.  Since then, he has worked on scoring music for such notable projects as China Beach, Christmas with Holly, Rumble in the Bronx, Myth and The Patriot Yue Fei.

                The musical score of Chinese Zodiac shows off Nathan Wang’s love of jazz and offers up a nod to older action films, like those featuring 007 or a police detective on a high speed car chase through the streets of 1970s New York City.  As far as I know, the movie doesn’t take place in the 70s, but the score often times seems to belong there.  Wang offers up a few clues as to the locale of the film with some Asian-tinged score, featuring ethnic woodwinds and strings.

Of course, no Jackie Chan action film would be complete without some humor and the score of Chinese Zodiac does seem to contain some lighter, more humorous cues.  But, for the most part, this is an old-school action score that seems to go along well with driving – not causing one to drive too fast, but offering up enough of an adrenaline rush to make the ride go a bit more enjoyable.

The Chinese Zodiac Soundtrack is an enjoyable distraction as a standalone album, but I would have to see it along with the visuals of the film to understand whether Wang’s use of jazz was the right touch in this instance.  Still, the soundtrack is worth taking a listen to for any fan of jazz-based scores.


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