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Saturday, December 11, 2010


The Big Boss
Music by Peter Thomas
All Score Media ASM 034
20 Tracks 40:51 mins

The legendary Bruce Lee starred in only a handful of films, but his star shines as brightly today as it always did. Had he lived, he would have turned 70 on November 27th, and to mark the occasion All Score Media have premiered the soundtrack to his breakthrough film, 1971's The Big Boss (he had only enjoyed moderate success in the USA, prior to his move into the Hong Kong filmmaking scene, most notably in the TV show The Green Hornet), a film I first saw as a double feature with the following year's Fist of Fury at our local cinema (when we had one - oh I miss the many nights I enjoyed there!).
You didn't look for complicated plots with Lee's films. In his first three films at least, he was always the good guy going up against seemingly insurmountable odds. He displayed a certain charm in The Big Boss and Way of the Dragon, whilst was more ruthless in Fist of Fury. I urge you to seek out these early films in particular as, whilst the fights grew ever more spectacular in Enter The Dragon and Game of Death (which had to be completed using a double), the rawness and simplicity of the first three show off Lee's martial arts talents just as well, and let him dominate the screen more so than the latter films with their largely American casts.
So, what of the music on this album? Well, The Big Boss was originally scored by Chinese composer Wang Fu-ling, but the powers-that-be decided it would sound too alien for the majority of western audiences. It was retained in the English release however, but I don't recall if it was still attached when I first saw the film at the cinema. Certainly, every time I have seen it since, it has had the replacement score by the redoubtable Peter Thomas. I know this for a fact, because as soon as I put this CD on the player I immediately recognised the composer's versatile main theme, first heard in the opening track as the "Big Boss Theme," in all its brassy propulsive glory. The theme is reprised in various forms throughout the tracks that follow, in a score that is very much of its time, a jazz-pop concoction, with plenty of groovy, beat-driven source-like cues, action writing and tension, plus a love theme that plays airily in "Girl Loves Cheng Li," and smokily in "China Love." There is also "Communication in Hyperspace" with its simulated satellite electronic chatter, and more weird electronics in "EKG." But overall this is a tuneful and enjoyable listen and a great reminder of the film.
The accompanying 12-page booklet features a number of stills from the film, plus Gerd Naumann's introductory notes in both German and English.
You can sample the tracks by going to, where you can also find ordering suggestions for the album, both on CD and as a digital download.


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