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Brokedown Palace (Soundtrack) by David Newman

Ambassador Newman
Review by Christopher Coleman


Brokedown Palace (Soundtrack) by David Newman

Brokedown Palace




Originality 8
Music Selection 8
Composition 8
CD Length 7
Track Order 8
Performance 8
Final Score 8/10


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David Newman


Quick Quotes

"David Newman has always been a very versatile composer. From his dramatic orchestral score to Hoffa and his swashbuckling score to The Phantom to his funky jazz score to Bowfinger, Newman has proven his abilities to lend just the right score to whatever film he might be working on. With Brokedown Palace, Newman took the traditional dramatic approach, but with a few twists. There is quite an Asian flare to the score, and the appropriate ethnic instruments are used quite prevalently throughout. The additional use of a hip-hop rhythm track for some cues adds just a dash of surrealism, since it tended to be married to either the Asian instruments, or the full orchestra. 

Dan Goldwasser - Reviews Brokedown Palace



Composed and Conducted by David Newman
Produced by David Newman
Orchestrations by David Newman, Alexander Janko, Andrew von Oeyen
Executive Producer: John J. Alcantar III
Promo Release from Supertracks 1999

Yet another westerner has gotten themselves into a bit of a jam in the Far East…well, actually two westerners this time.  The Nineties has seen a barrage of such films set in the Far East which have generated a number of noteworthy scores- among them:  Heaven and Earth, Beyond Rangoon, and Return to ParadiseIn 1999,  David Newman plays the musical Ambassador to the Orient with his score for Brokedown Palace.

Brokedown Palace was released with little hoopla but was actually one of the better films of the year.  Sporting superior acting, engaging plot and exotic locals, the film came and went without much talk.  David Newman's score was certainly shortchanged by the official soundtrack release which chose to highlight the more marketable alternative rock and dance music used in the film.  Once again, Supertracks comes to the rescue by releasing almost 40 minutes of Newman's high quality score for the film.

For Brokedown Palace, David Newman has combined eastern musical elements with contemporary western components and has done so with a good deal of success.  The net result is what one might expect from the mind of Graeme Revell and not David Newman.  The score relies heavily on loops, samples and synths and also upon is cleverly crafted main theme.  David Newman's score helps to balance out the teen giddyness and party-mentality reflected in the pop-tracks used in the film.  The premise of the film is actually quite serious as two high school grads find themselves accused of drug possession by Hong Kong officials and placed in jail.  The score alone neatly balances the youthful exuberance of the two Western girls with the dark and serious nature of their predicament.

The opening track begins positively, expressing this exuberance of youth utilizing an almost late-Nineties-Thomas-Newman technique.  Layered in is piano, erhu, some instrument along the lines of a sitar and finally sampled rhythms are introduced.  It is a rather fun mix to listen to until just about half way through the first track when a much more foreboding tone is assumed.  Clanging, crashing, throbbing horns and strings make it clear that our young graduates are in trouble.  Even more twists are found before this track ends.  Unexpectedly, we are returned to the contemporary, upbeat rhythms for a moment or two and the track finally ends with an eerie bit of solo piano.  

Your Friend is Pardoned (2) is the gem of the CD as it features the most emotional depiction of the Brokedown Palace's main theme.  The flute plays lead over beautiful string accompaniment and is very much in line with Mark Mancina's great work for Return to ParadiseThis theme creeps into several of the following tracks, but none of them display it as nicely as track 2. Hank Meets the Girls (14), places the theme over strong electronic rhythms while Alice & Darlene Argue (22) performs the melody in an abbreviated form. 

The beginning and end of this CD provide the best listening moments; however, if focused enough, an enjoyable moment or two can be experienced within the barrage of short tracks that comprise the middle. The middle tracks tend to be short and vary greatly in style.  The tracks are not in chronological order and was most likely done to enhance the listening experience. The only problem with the track ordering is that the CD concludes with a rather dark cue, No Pardon.  A more positive or reflective cue, like Alice's Story (6), would leave the listener in a better state of mind.

This effort from David Newman is nothing short of surprising.  Such music is not the type one would associate with this composer.  Those who enjoy the contemporary style of a Graeme Revell or James Newton Howard will find this work most appealing and hopefully it signifies some new areas David Newman will be exploring more fully in the future.


Track Listing and Ratings

 Track Title Time



The Arrest



Your Friend is Pardoned



"I Didn't Do It"


4 Alice is Beaten 0:50  ****

The Escape



Alice's Story



The Girls Go to Prison



Darlene's Ear



The Bracelet



Beth Ann's Fantasy Man



Friends In High Places


12 Pool Boy 1:09  ***

In Their Cell


14 Hank Meets the Girls 0:53  ****
15 Alice Meets Nick 0:47  ****
16 Hong Kong 0:27  ****
17 Arrival in Thailand 1:03  ****
18 Night in Prison 1:00  ****
19 "Thirty-Three Years" 0:44  ***
20 Alice's Conversation 1:50  ***
21 Pool boy Testifies 2:06  ***
22 Alice & Darlene Argue 1:48  ***
23 Making Plans to Escape 1:28  ***
24 Blackmailing Jagrite 1:30  ***
25 "You Didn't Do It" 1:22  ****
26 "No Pardon" 1:10  ***

Total Running Time



Referenced Reviews
Return to Paradise 



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