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Original Title:

South Korea 2006

Kenji Kawai

Running Wild - OST

Review: The popularity of composer Kenji Kawai has already exceeded the borders of his home country Japan. Thus, it's no big surprise that he was asked to do the soundtrack for Korea's blockbuster action-thriller "Running Wild". The OST stands out with some very action-loaden pieces, that are always melodious, yet also seem a bit too commercial-ridden at times. Often we feel reminded of action flicks like "Speed" or Michael Bay works, movies which scores mainly serve the purpose of keeping the adrenaline pumping. Granted, Kawai does a good job with that and he also delivers enough alternation with some more calm and emotional pieces, yet we always have the feeling that we, in some way or another, have heard the stuff we listen to before already. Kenji Kawai doesn't only quote from famous Hollywood composers in his work, he also cites himself, which may be nice, yet gives the end product a somewhat unoriginal taste.

Nevertheless, the "Running Wild" OST is very captivating and thrilling, which becomes already appearant in the first track "The Running Wild Overture". Here, we are also introduced to the score's most important motif. The fast beat, the strings and the modest use of e-guitars in the background, which create an adrenaline-loaden rhythm along with the synthesizer drums, make this piece a track that soon sticks to you. We will run across this melody in many alternations during the OST, especially in tracks "Fight" 1-3. "The Fight (Part 3)" even made it into the list of my favorite tracks of the CD, because of its great combination of rising and dropping tension, as well as the good use of an e-guitar that stands a bit more in the music's foreground than in the other tracks.

Kenji Kawai can also do different stuff than this as he proves in "Sad Dream" where he shows more of his melancholic side. This sad, but beautiful piece is played by a piano and is accompanied only minimally by some strings in the background. Kawai's handwriting is absolutely recognizable in this track, and therefore this piece may also remind you of other works of his, like "Dark Water". The theme he introduces reemerges during several other tracks as in "Mother & Son", where it sounds even more tragic because of the use of a cello, or it also reappears in "Two Different Destiny" (no, this is no typo on my part!), where the piano makes the melody a bit more serene and wistful. The theme also resurfaces in several other short tracks, so that you will be able to recognize it at the latest at the end of the CD.

"Broken Dream" is one of the best songs of the CD, as it first heads into the more melancholic direction of "Sad Dream", yet after this the beat gets more hasty and action-loaden and brings more color to the track, without the melody falling by the wayside. "Light & Melody" is an interesting track, which doesn't want to decide in which direction it's heading with its slightly dissonant tunes, also thanks to dark, mysterious sounds on the one hand and more bright tunes on the other.
"I'm Alone" is a saddening piano piece with somber synthesizer sounds in the background. Then there are also some more dark tracks, which are mainly creating just some mood and atmosphere without sticking out with any kind of memorable melody. One example is "Dark Side of Time".
A small deviation in style is to be found in the sung piece "Nothing without You". A slow jazz-piece, which will inevitably make the picture of a female singer stretching on a piano come to mind. I can't help it, but this is just not my cup of tea, therefore I'm always skipping this track and never lost any sleep about it.
In "Intrigue", which starts off rather melancholic and depressing, there are eventually some of Kawai's horror movie roots shining through. Suddenly, you think you are in "The Ring" or the already mentioned "Dark Water". "Mother's Dead" goes into the same direction, but covers more of Kawai's melodic side of melancholic synthesizer sounds.

"Sad Fighting" is a song full of sorrow, which fades into the quite unspectacular "Duel of the Fates" (Star Wars anyone?) and eventually builds a bridge to "Stairway to Inferno", some kind of reprise, which yet remains surprisingly tranquil and melancholic. "All The Criminals" is of a similar kind and delivers a worthy finale with its more tragic tunes.
All in all, the soundtrack to "Running Wild" is a neat piece of work and is quite appealing with its two main themes, one more action-orientated, the other a more sad piece. I often find myself listening to this OST, yet have to point out that the enthusiasm for the two main themes eventually runs out because of the many repititions. Furthermore, the soundtrack also appears to be a bit too commercial for my ears at times. Still, Kawai also manages to remain true to its own style, which is something he deserves a thumbs up for. Bottom line: This is a recommendable score for actionmovie- or Kenji Kawai fans. And who can resist buying this OST, when it's as cheap as you can get it at some online stores?!

Copyright 2007 AsianMovieWeb

Track listing

01. The Running Wild
02. Release from Prison
03. Sad Dream
04. Light and Shadow
05. Broken Dream
06. Night Investigation
07. Mother & Son
08. A Revenger - The
      Fight (Part 1)
09. I'm Alone
10. Two Different Destiny
11. The Fight (Part 2)
12. Dark Side of Time
13. Delicious & Thankful
14. Investigation & Crime
15. You Shall Lose
16. Nothing Without
      You (Kawai Kenji/
      Omoto Tomoko)
17. The Fight (Part 3)
18. Just Wanna Be Happy
19. Lighter
20. Intrigue - Tell Me
      the Truth - Vertigo
21. Fallen Justice
22. Wounded Birds
23. Why Am I Thrown Over
24. Mother's Dead
25. Sad Fighting
26. Duel of the Fates
27. Stairway to Inferno -
      Life Between Joy and
28. All the Criminals

Running Time = 53:02

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