Red Cliff

Musical Score By: Taro Iwashiro

Distributed by: Silva Screen Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Red Cliff is a John Woo film that takes us back to 208 A.D. and the legendary battle that ended the Han Dynasty in ancient China.  The movie opens with Prime Minister/General Cao Cao (Zhang Fengyi) requesting permission from the Han Dynasty to crush two rebel warlords Liu Bei (You Yong) and Sun Quan (Chang Chen).  Formerly enemies, the two join forces at the behest of their advisors Zhuge Liang (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and Zhou Yu (Tony Leung), and mount a heroic campaign that changes the face of China forever.

            Japanese composer Taro Iwashiro was chosen to create a musical score for Red Cliff.  Iwashiro is no stranger to composing for epic dramas.  Included in his vast resume of film scores are Shinobi: Heart Under Blade, Azumi and Memories of Murder.  He has also dabbled in musical composition for video games as lead composer for Capcomís Onimusha 2: Samuraiís Destiny.

            The music of Taro Iwashiro, as performed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, is breathtaking, enabling the listener to actually visualize the story as it plays.  Iwashiro perfectly captures the epic proportions of this film.  The listener is instantly transported back to ancient China and the historic battleground that brought about great change in China.  I am a fan of the use of instruments that add an exotic air to soundtracks.  For Red Cliff, Taro Iwashiro uses the Ancient Chinese Harp and the Japanese Transverse Bamboo Flute to achieve this sound.

            The only lyrical songs on the Red Cliff Soundtrack appear at the end of the soundtrack.  These songs - the main themes of the film - are composed by Taro Iwashiro with lyrics by Francis Lee.  Performed by Chinese J-Pop star alan, they add a singular beauty that truly can not be described, but must be experienced.

            The music of the Red Cliff Soundtrack does what any perfect soundtrack must - it perfectly describes the story without the use of visuals and is terrific as a stand alone album.  The soundtrack itself was enough to inspire me to see the film and I canít wait to get my hands on the DVD.  This is a beautiful soundtrack that any music aficionado would not want to miss.


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