Don Davis - Warriors of Virtue
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Full Length Jewel Case CD
This film was awarded for Best Film at International Fantasy Film Award 1998. We cannot understand why! The music is what stands out as it is very epic, fantasy oriented and adventerous. Two thumbs up to Prometheus for releasing the complete score, an early highlight in Davis' career. This comparatively rare disc contains over 70 minutes of music for full orchestra and chorus. Well worth seeking out for both fans and non-fans alike. On a note of caution: don't confuse this CD with Rhino's wretched song album, which makes the film appear classy.
There have been countless attempts to combine the mysticism of Star Wars and Wizard of Oz through the years, and unfortunately most of them have proven to be lame. Production on Warriors of Virtue began not long after The Pagemaster essentially told the same story. A boy who is a social outcast is guided by nature and a wise man with a book into a fantasy world where the boy must help save the day. In Warriors of Virtue, Hong Kong director Ronnie Yu forces upon the audience the same presentation of good versus evil that requires fine execution to be successful when compared to its peers. Shoddy effects, obvious overacting, and characters (and worlds) that nobody really cares about all plagued Warriors of Virtue, but one of its redeeming factors was a large-scale orchestral score by composer and orchestrator Don Davis. Best known for his orchestration work for James Horner, Davis was branching out into his own composing career in the mid-1990's, and his involvement with the production of Warriors of Virtue began early. Introduced by the filmmakers to the concepts in 1994, Davis wrote a concert piece inspired by the film for the Breckenridge Music Festival in 1995. His continued involvement during pre-production and photography allowed him to become very familiar with the characters and concepts of the fantasy world in the story, and also allowed him to write his material at a leisurely pace. A 1996 album release of the score by the budding specialty label Prometheus (with Davis' usual creative track titles) preceded the wide 1997 opening of the film, which bombed after poor critical reviews. The album remained popular, however, because it was among the first releases of Davis' compositional work, and with his career launched by The Matrix, demand for the Warriors of Virtue score has outlived the film.
The score's themes are only provided in hints in the first seven cues, with introduction cues that seem surprisingly understated. But with "The Lifespring Rhapsody" and "Forces of Nature," Davis unleashes his themes as the opening volley of nearly an hour of symphonic and choral harmony. The title theme for Warriors of Virtue represents the fantasy world, and it receives full treatments at 1:40 into "The Lifespring Rhapsody" and, of course, at the outset of "Theme of Tao." Secondary themes are difficult to pinpoint to individual characters, though the score has a heroic theme often accompanied by choir that announces itself with elegance at the end of "Encounter of the Roo Kind" (and no, the theme doesn't seem to represent the Roo Warriors in any of their other cues). The princess Elysia and the evil Komodo both appear in cues that are surprisingly weak on volume and development. An action motif introduced in "Forces of Nature" is a grand compensation, though, with some swashbuckling spirit raising memories of The Pagemaster. During the score's most robust and harmonic material, concentrated in six cues between "The Lifestring Rhapsody" and "Encounter of the Roo Kind," Davis draws the best performances out of the Denver Symphony Orchestra and its chorus.
On the whole, Davis' music here is indeed derivative of James Horner's works for the same genre, but Warriors of Virtue is entertaining nevertheless. The song album for the film only includes four tracks of Davis' material, so score fans should only seek this Prometheus specialty release!
1. Main Title (01:22)
2. Bootleg Left (02:31)
3. Ryan And The Tunnel Of Temptation (03:34)
4. The Vortex and The Dare (04:17)
5. The Wonder Of Tao (02:08)
6. The Force Of Yun (02:19)
7. Mudlap Rap / Elysa's Entrance (01:01)
8. The Lifespring Rhapsody (03:58)
9. Forces Of Nature (04:33)
10. Challenge Of Yun / The Force Of Water (03:15)
11. Rooz Reunited (02:02)
12. Theme Of Tao / The Komodo Dragontrot (03:48)
13. Encounter Of The Roo Kind (01:39)
14. Komodo's Seduction (01:44)
15. The Mudlap Trap (02:32)
16. Chained Melody (05:03)
17. Tunnel Of Blades (02:24)
18. Lesson Of Inner Strenght (02:04) 19. Death Of Chung (02:53)
20. Komodo's Fury and Elysia's Redemption (01:52)
21. Farewell To Chung / Mudlap's Remorse (02:31)
22. Marsupial Arabesque (05:01)
23. Planet Of The Roo-Warriors (05:24)
24. Ryan's Strenghts (03:02)
Total Duration: 01:10:5