Home | Movie-Reviews | Soundtrack-Reviews | TV Series | About the site | Links

Original Title:

South Korea 2001

Lee Jae-jin

Failan - OST

Review: Lee Jae-jin composed a warm and at the same time sad soundtrack for the drama picture "Failan". A score that perfectly captures the movie's atmosphere and mood. Every time the strings come into play, you can clearly hear that this isn't a symphonic soundtrack, but that a synthesizer did all the work instead. Still, that's no problem at all, since the score oftentimes relies on noteable piano pieces, which serve us with some good themes that are easily recognizable after a while and get repeated while undergoing several alternations. Even when the strings are in the musical focus, we are happily willing to "overhear" that they were just created at a keyboard.
The OST to "Failan" has a very flowing and melancholic character, that always manages to bestow a pleased smile on you. As the movie does, this score, too, despite all the grief and drama, also radiates a certain kind of warmth, that is very affecting and creates a fuzzy feeling in the listener.

Cecilia Cheung gives a little introduction with some words in broken Korean, which I first believed to be Cantonese, though. She should work on her pronounciation, I guess.
Right after this a melancholic, yet friendly motif is played by a wind instrument, which often gets outplayed by the strings and is supported by reserved piano sounds. In "Prologue Voyage" we get to hear one of the main motifs, which is slowly introduced to us by a piano, and is accompanied by the modest use of some strings. This motif gets picked up again and is getting many alternations in "First Letter", "Kang-jae in the Picture", "Job Agency" and "Kang-jae's Room". It is obvious that with its sad, and yet somehow hopeful motif these tracks are supposed to represent Kang-jae's theme.

"Morning Bicycle 1", with its more joyful and jumpy tunes stronly reminds us of a dreamy autumn day. "Sea of Failan", "Morning Bicycle 2", as well as "Hope" take up the motif again, whereas it gets played a little bit faster at times or slower at others. Furthermore, in "Morning Bicycle 2" we also get to listen to the scene in which the Korean lady, who gave Failan shelter and a home, tries to teach Cecilia Cheung some words of Korean. That's not only quite funny, but also brings back the pictures of the movie to your mind. Failan's theme is refreshingly blithe, without losing the melancholic aftertaste that naturally comes with it.
It's pretty apparent that most of the tracks on the CD aren't exceeding the 2 or even 1 minute mark. Therefore, you could call many of them pieces that only fill the gaps of the CD. But actually the tracks always fade into the next one very well, so that we don't get the feeling that there are several short tracks, but instead almost think of the CD as one single big track.

With its running time of more than 4 minutes we are lead to believe that "Last Letter" may deliver more than any of the other pieces, but actually we just get reheated old stuff. Even though luckily in a more diverse way than it was the case with some other titles, where you almost had the feeling that they were just pressed 1:1 on the CD for a second time.
The CD's highlight is without a doubt the only sung piece of the soundtrack: "Love". "Kang-jae's Choice" already gave us a little foretaste of this track with its quite acoustic guitar tunes. "Love" starts with a gentle guitar solo and is occassionaly accompanied by a very reserved piano. Cecilia Cheung's voice stands in the song's focus, of course, whereas she sings in Mandarin-Chinese. As we know, Cheung's voice has a distinctive scratchy sound, but when she sings this really isn't apparent anymore. She may not be what you would call a born singer, but at least she can sing. Not for nothing she is also a successful Canto-Popstar. Well ok, latter might not be a good argument...
Still, it remains a fact that "Love" is a very nice, tranquil and sad song full of yearning, which also fits very well into the rest of the soundtrack.

"End Title" is a good title to mark the end of this CD. It picks up Kang-jaes theme again and leaves us with the same warm, longing, hopeful and at the same time sad feeling, that this score conveys all the way through. Lee Jae-jin may not have created a masterpiece, but still composed a nice soundtrack, which will especially please any romantic. With its dreamy and melancholic tunes the different pieces make up for a very good whole, which just lasts 36 minutes. For making up for the short running time the producers try to console us with a few data tracks, like a trailer and a music video, but it just doesn't justify the price you have to pay if you want to get your hands on this CD. Since the soundtrack is just a bit too short there are some deductions concerning the overall rating.
Nevertheless, "Failan" surprises with nice motifs that are even recognizable after a few times listening to them, which is not the norm for a drama soundtrack. The warm feeling the OST can arouse in the listener is definitely a good reason to buy this CD.

Copyright 2007 AsianMovieWeb

Track listing

01. Failan
02. Prologue Voyage
03. Morning Bicycle 1
04. Kang-jae's Winter
05. First Letter
06. Kang-jae in the Picture
07. Sea of Failan
08. Kang-jae's Choice
09. Kang-jae and Failan
10. Kang-jae's Motel Room
11. Morning Bicycle 2
12. Job Agency
13. Kang-jae in the Picture
14. Last Letter
15. Hope
16. Kang-jae's Room
17. Love
18. Kang Beak-ran
19. Voyage
20. End Title

Running Time = 36:08

Buy this Soundtrack here:

Chris' Soundtrack Corner