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Soundtrack review: Loi Bao (Christopher Wong – 2017)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Loi Bao (Christopher Wong – 2017)

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The film tells the story of a man dying of a terminal illness receives an experimental medical treatment and soon discovers he has superhuman powers. But the origins of the treatment are intertwined in a dark history that becomes unraveled in his life. It’s yet another collaboration between Vietnamese-American composer Christopher Wong and writer/director Victor Vu. Somehow I took it for granted that the movie was going to have a supernatural element without even reading the synopsis.

I like the opening titles as they begin with a soft piano motif and then build up into an alert action piece that makes me think of things moving fast and exciting; the music is melodic and fresh and I just love a good start to a score, it helps with the overall enjoyment of the album. In the opening parts of this album even if it’s an action score, it’s the warm emotional moments that get to me, like the reflective and beautiful guitar and piano based “Almost nothing left”; this is a fairy tale like piece that steps away from the story it was written for and finds its own place inside me. When the cello and the soft vocalising kick in as well I am certain I have truly found a gem. The fairy take like piano motifs recur often throughout the score and they balance the darker tones that make up the overall sound of “Loi Bao”. I like how warm and cold naturally blend in the music and ever so often the sound builds up into something epic and believable; it’s also that brand of light epic that doesn’t overwhelm.

As the score progresses the composer gives me nice surprises: “After surgery” is one of those quiet, reflective ambient pieces that will alway be my favourites no matter on which score they might appear; this is my musical comfort zone, this is the mood I am most often drawn to in music. It’s not just one cue, the composer has time in this score to develop this atmosphere and make it count; this is how you use 70 minutes of score efficiently and I love how Christopher Wong builds up the different emotional tonalities, all of them meaningful and fully fleshed.

There’s also that light superhero vibe in the music that I most often associate with “Spider-man” movies. It works very well. For me the a superhero score needs to have an emotional core and I like much more scores where the human side of the hero is addressed through the music; I am not afraid to say that as far as superhero scores go, “Loi Bao” is more enjoyable and multi dimensional than the generic zone Marvel scores (I am talking about the Henry Jackman “Captain America” scores especially) have entered. Christopher Wong develops both action and emotion and gives his score and hero an identity. The 70 minutes pass like a breeze and leave a mark behind them. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this score so much but here it is, one last gem for 2017. Give it a listen.

Cue rating: 89 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 32 / 70

Album excellence: 45%

Highlights:
01 Opening Titles
03 Almost Nothing Left
04 The Fable
05 After Surgery
06 Drawing Frustration
11 Familiar Place
12 Saving The Girl
15 Losing Time
16 Close to Betrayal
20 Losing Mother
26 Going Home
27 Theme from Loi Bao Reprise

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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).

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