Home > Reviews > THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM – David Buckley


Original Review by Clark Douglas

Martial arts fans got a small treat during the summer of 2008 when popular genre stars Jackie Chan and Jet Li appeared together in “The Forbidden Kingdom”. The film received generally positive reviews, and was warmly received by most moviegoers. The score was provided by relative newcomer David Buckley, who had previously scored some very minor features and written additional music for several films scored by Harry Gregson-Williams.

As you might have guessed at this point, Buckley comes from Hans Zimmer’s Remote Control factory, but his work on “The Forbidden Kingdom” proved to a be a bit more inspired than one might expect. Considering that this is Buckley’s first large assignment, he really delivered quite well. The score is a rather entertaining outing full of a pleasing assortment of lush themes, large-scale drama, and engaging action sequences, all filtered through a warm eastern vibe. Listeners may be reminded of Klaus Badelt’s “The Promise” at times, to which “The Forbidden Kingdom” makes a satisfying companion piece.

The action sequences here rely quite heavily on percussion, as a variety of ethnic drums are employed to create very busy cues (check out “J & J Temple Fight” and “Tea House Fight” for examples). However, I confess to preferring the more traditional sequences of sweeping drama, such as the gorgeous “Her Destiny was Written”. Choral elements and solo female vocals are also sprinkled throughout the score, which will undoubtedly please listeners such as myself with a weakness for choral flavor. Everything concludes with the somewhat Schifrin-esque “…Another Tale Begins”, which is just fine, but seems a tad out of place with the rest of the score.

The score was not released officially, but this promo album offers a generous 66 minutes of music. If the score ever is given a proper release, I hope they shave off about 15 minutes. It’s all good music, but sitting through the entire thing is admittedly a bit wearisome after a while. “The Forbidden Kingdom” may lack the complexity to survive a lengthy album, but there’s certainly a lot of very enjoyable music here. If you enjoyed “The Promise”, “Kung Fu Panda”, and “The Last Samurai”, then I think you’ll find that this one is well worth seeking out.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • The Mountain of Fruit & Flowers (1:42)
  • The Peach Banquet (1:45)
  • Monkey Business (3:28)
  • China Begins (4:11)
  • Hops’ Shop (3:06)
  • J&J Temple Fight (5:34)
  • The Legend of the Temple Staff (1:58)
  • Two Tigers – Two Masters (2:49)
  • Tea House Fight (5:07)
  • The Tyranny of War (5:23)
  • Don’t Forget to Breath (0:52)
  • Ni Chang & Her Cult Killers (3:36)
  • Drunken Master Wounded (3:39)
  • The Seeker of the Prophecy (5:05)
  • Let the Journey Begin (2:37)
  • Battle of the Bride (3:00)
  • Her Destiny Was Written (4:12)
  • As One Tale Ends… (2:45)
  • …Another Tale Begins (1:35)

Running Time: 66 minutes 43 seconds

Lionsgate Records Digital Download (2008)

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