Film scores

Soundtrack review: Man-up (Wendy Wang – 2015)

“Man Up” is a project written, directed and starring Justin Chon which features YouTube sensation Kevin Wu as a 19 year old whose life is turned upside down when he finds out his girlfriend is pregnant. He moves in with a friend and starts a journey of learning how to be a man. The score is written by Wendy Wang.

After scratching my head during the first two trance like and hypnotic cues, something magical happened once “College party entrance” started. I still hadn’t recovered from the 80s awesomeness that was ”Kung Fury” and to be back so soon in my favorite land was just an unexpected gift. If only that moment lasted longer… Not that the trance parts are not enjoyable, but once I had a taste of the 80s I don’t want to hear anything else.

“Man up” is a very strange listening experience, one of the strangest. It feels like I am chasing a very fast creature through various screens of an insane game. The moment I feel I’ve caught it the creature changes its shape and moves to a new scenery where I have to start all over again. Listening to this score I had the same sensation as if someone was channel surfing with my remote, switching channels roughly every 30 seconds no matter what might be on screen, good or bad. I didn’t; have time to form an idea about Wendy Wang’s composition. There were moments like “Best friends talk” I wanted to see last longer with the synth and electronic noises and there were other moments I couldn’t even get an idea of what was about because the channel changed too fast.

However, I liked the general sound of “Man up” It intrigued me, it brought some seconds of pure 80s magic complete with vocal themes like “The challenge” and it generally sounded as if David Bowie had a quick one night stand with Gary Numan. Not a bad thing to imagine, trust me. It’s way too short and fragmented to be memorable but it could have been the beginning of a beautiful friendship. I will smile and chalk this up as one of the alien scores of 2015, visiting from a different world. I will mark Wendy Wang’s name down and curiously wait for something more developed. This collection of samples intrigued and charmed me enough to pay attention to her future works and brought a nice doze of nostalgia. Any score that has something like “The challenge video game” in it deserves multiple listens.

Cue rating: 88 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 6 / 16

Album excellence: 35%

Highlights:

College Party Entrance

I Can See The Change

Angry Mom

Best Friend Talk

The Challenge

Madison Letter

Dos Amigos Party

The Challenge Video Game

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment