Sword of the Assassin

Musical Score By: Christopher Wong

Distributed by: MovieScore Media

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                The Vietnamese martial arts action film, Sword of the Assassin, tells the story of Nguyen Vu, the sole survivor of a family executed by the empress of Vietnam.  Learning his family may have been framed for crimes they did not commit, Nguyen sets out to clear his family name and find justice for those lost.

                The musical score of Sword of the Assassin was created by Christopher Wong, a composer whose interest in film music began in college when he was selected by the music department to study under Jerry Goldsmith.  Wong’s first major scoring credit was for Journey from the Fall.  Since then, he has created musical score for such notable films as The Rebel, How to Fight in Six Inch Heels and Yellow Flowers on the Green Grass.

                According to the composer, “Sword of the Assassin was the rare opportunity to work on a historical fantasy epic which used Wuxia style martial arts sequences for its action pieces.  This film was my fifth feature film collaboration with director Victor Vu, and whereas some of our previous projects had been fairly serious, this was really the first opportunity for both of us to cut loose and have a lot of fun because of the fantasy elements.  Even though it’s not my first nature, I had always thought it would be fun to write a score with big adventure themes, in the vein of so many of the great Hollywood scores of the 80s.  The film has an epic fable feel to the storytelling, involving royal bloodlines and a quest to right past wrongs.  The main musical themes carry these qualities and impart a feeling of fatalistic resolve.”

                While he may have wanted to create a score emulating that of the 80s Hollywood scenes, I have to commend Wong on staying clear of the action scores of the karate films of old.  A big fan of martial arts film of the late 70s/early 80s, I cringe thinking back on the music of many of those films – canned and off key at times, other times very twangy and not at all epic sounding.  For Sword of the Assassin, Christopher Wong used a mix of guitars, orchestral instruments, piano and exotic sound.  The exotic instruments were a nod to the film’s locale, while the use of orchestral instruments added an epic feel to the score.  Guitars and pianos offered up a dramatic element, but nothing added a more dramatic element than the drums used for the fight scenes.

                I truly enjoyed the Sword of the Assassin Soundtrack.  It had all of the elements of a great martial arts score, managing to capture the exotic instrumentation of the locale, the drama of the storyline and the action of the fight scenes to create an epic score well-worth the listen.  I enjoyed it so much that I have been inspired to see the film.


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