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Street Fighter: the Legend of Chun-Li [Soundtrack]

Various Artists Audio CD

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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun action score shows new side to Endelman Jan. 7 2010
By Jon Broxton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Fifteen years after Jean-Claude Van Damme effectively killed off a potential franchise of films in the original Street Fighter movie, the classic video game returns to the big screen in Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, a rebooting of the story which now focuses on the mysterious female character of Chun-Li rather than the muscle bound General Guile. Directed by Polish action director Andrzej Bartkowiak, it stars Smallville star Kristin Kreuk as Chun-Li, a concert pianist and martial arts expert searching for her father, who has been captured by the evil underworld figure, Bison. The film, which also stars Chris Klein, Neal McDonough and Michael Clarke Duncan, has a score from a most unlikely source: New York-based composer Stephen Endelman, whose film work to date has included such classy projects as The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain, Bride of the Wind and Evelyn.

This is his first foray into the action genre, and if this score is anything to go by, he clearly has the chops to succeed across multiple genres. Endelman's action writing just oozes cool; from the growling brass lines, the piano scales bubbling underneath the orchestra, the rambunctious string runs, the rattling Oriental percussion, and the understated, yet appropriate electronic enhancements, Endelman's score has a life and energy and vitality which is really excellent. The action and suspense cues - like the opening "Chun-Li vs. Bison", "Bison Takes Over", "The Montage", "The Break In", "Running to Vega", "Gen Attacked", "Following Balrog", and several others - are genuinely exciting and musically interesting, often making use of unusual and unexpected instrumental performances, highlighting Endelman's engaging mastery of his orchestra and his hitherto undiscovered talent for this kind of musical expression.

The main theme, heard in the "Opening Credits" (which is not the first cue on the album) begins heroically, before segueing into a gorgeous, expressive erhu piece. The erhu theme is recapitulated later in cues such as the lovely "Gen is Reborn" the bittersweet "Leaving Home" and the conclusive "Going Home" to excellent effect. The quieter moments of the score are often highlighted by breathy bamboo flutes, soft string lines, or solo piano melodies (clearly alluding to the main character's history as a concert pianist); "Mom Dies" is a gorgeous example of this. Other moments occasionally recall John Barry's writing on the Bruce Lee Game of Death movie, especially in his use of wooden percussion under the orchestra in cues such as "Impress Me" and "Chun-Li Training".

One off cues, such as the ultra-groovy finger-snapping "Arrival in Bangkok" or the similar-sounding "Bathroom Fight", just add to the score's general appeal. This a surprisingly good score that belies its second rate action movie roots, and will certainly appeal to those who like creative orchestral writing rather than samey synth loops in their action scores; similarly, it will appeal to those who thought Stephen Endelman was only a `serious' composer, who couldn't let loose and have fun.
4.0 out of 5 stars Not something audiophiles will be scrambling to get but very enjoyable nonetheless March 3 2009
By Z. Freeman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
So, before this score can even be addressed, I think we all need to take a moment to acknowledge something: Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li is a feature film. So, the powers that be - with the rights to the legendary Capcom fighting game - took a look at the current cinematic climate and decided that rather than launching an epic-scale re-imagining of the iconic set of fighters, the best angle to take on remaking the 1994 Jean-Claude Van Damme flop was to tell the "legend" of Chun Li. I'm not quite sure where that thought came from, but they ran with it, attaching Doom director Andrzej Bartkowiak (who also helmed Romeo Must Die and Exit Wounds - giving him both video game and martial arts film cred, I guess) and orderd up a script from first-time feature-length scribe Justin Marks. Needless to say, the film hasn't been particularly well-received by critics or audience (opening to a meager $4.65 millionand currently at a 0% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes). Imagine my surprise then when listening to Stephen Endelman's score, to find a score not only worth listening to, but actually quite enjoyable.

Though Endelman has been around for some time, he's not a composer I'm familiar with (highlights of his work include Ed, the recent Zak Penn mockumentary The Grand, and The Net 2.o - not particularly memorable films). His work here on Street Fighter, though, shows why he's continued to work and why eventually we should be seeing his name on higher profile projects. Sure this score has its downsides - many of the tracks are heavy on action and light on depth - but that's to be expected considering that this is a videogame to film transfer - over a decade after the game has gone out of style. Endelman still manages to capture the exotic action of the game without teetering over into ridiculous cheese or overextended melodies and repetitive beats. The lonely violin on "Gen Is Reborn" provides a bit of contemplative emotion to a score otherwise overburdened with carrying action sequences forward. The themes in this track also carry forward into the highly expressive "Running To Vega" - a memorable track that achieves both action and emotion on equal levels and pop up again in "Impress Me."

This isn't a score that audiophiles will be looking for when scouring each other's soundtrack collections - indeed, it's no masterpiece, but it does offer plenty of excitement and electronic meets classical expressiveness (not to mention enough of a videogame sensibility to remind viewers of the game itself). Of the 27 tracks on the album, the average track comes out to around two and a half minutes, providing a nice balance between developing a sense of place and moving the aural story along. Endelman provides Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li with more of a heart than it deserves, with some of the action tracks feeling more involved that is to be expected from a movie of this caliber. There are lightweight tracks here (such as the repetitive "The Escape") but Endelman's real achievement is that the majority of his score is impressively developed - something that can't necessarily be said for the film itself.
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