Curse of the Golden Flower (soundtrack) by Shigeru Umebayashi



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Curse of the Golden Flower
by Shigeru Umebayashi

Music from the Films of Zhang Yimou

Curse of the Golden Flower (Widescreen DVD)








Curse of the Golden Flower (Soundtrack) by Shigeru Umebayashi

Curse of the Golden Flower
Composed by Shigeru Umebayashi
Lakeshore Records (2007)

Rating: 7/10

Buy Curse of the Golden Flower by Shigeru Umebayashi  from


Listen to this soundclip of Curse of the Golden FlowerTai-He Song (353 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of Curse of the Golden FlowerEnding Title (419 kb)

More clips from Curse of the Golden Flower at


[Shigeru] Umebayashi's work here contains similar foreboding percussion and choral work as HERO did; however, it would be going too far to call his work any sort of "rip off."  Umebayashi infuses enough of his own sound to keep this score freshly entertaining. 

Golden Flower Blooms
Review by Christopher Coleman

After successes like HERO and HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, director Zhang Yimou's next historical, action-drama had quite a lot of expectations to meet.  Taking a brief hiatus from the genre with RIDING ALONE FOR THOUSANDS OF MILES, Yimou returned to tell the story of the secrets and corruption of an Imperial family of the Tang Dynasty.   Man cheng jin dai huang jin jia (CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER) is based on a play written by Cao Yu in the 1930s, entitled Thunderstorm.  Along with YE YAN (THE BANQUET), CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER was one of the most anticipated Chinese films of 2006 and went on to attain numerous award nominations.

Zhang Yimou's films have come to be known for their visual flare and use of color.  CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER is certainly no exception.  Yimou's latest film focuses on relational dynamics as opposed to stunning wuxia fight sequences. In depicting the extravagance of the period, especially at the imperial level, Yimou's palace and inner quarters are blinding in color and detail.  Add to the striking sets and costumes the likes of legendary actors Chow Yun Fat and Gong Li and the score has quite a bit to live up to. 

For CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER, composer Shigeru Umebayashi follows in Tan Dun's footsteps from the film HERO.  One has to wonder if Zhang Yimou first sought out Tan Dun for this project only to have missed out due to Dun's commitment to score director Xiaogang Feng's THE BANQUET.  Umebayashi's work here contains similar foreboding percussion and choral work as HERO did; however, it would be going too far to call his work any sort of "rip off." Umebayashi infuses enough of his own sound to keep this score freshly entertaining.

The almost fifty minutes of music presented by Lakeshore Records has a thread of foreboding and tragedy running from start to end.  Pieces featuring slow tempos and hallowed, male chorus add a very deliberate drive to the score.  "Return to the Castle" (3), Theme of the Emperor (4), and "End of the War" (21) are the best examples of this.  The Empress, on the other hand, is represented by higher, female voices.  She is portrayed as both a loving mother and victim, which the wordless vocals help to communicate.   "The Empress" (5) features a solo vocalist who's part seems to also hearken back to the female vocalist, You Yan, from HERO as well.  The ominous and powerful music for the Emperor and battle scenes, and the melodic theme for the Empress and her plight, play well off of one another and bring a good balance to this score.

Musical similarities and all, CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER is a potent listening experience.  Shigeru Umebayashi delivers some powerful cues that hit low-frequencies that will give your home theater's subwoofer a run for its money.  If you'd like to give your audio system a workout try: "Tai-He Song" (2), Shadow and Escape (7),  "Huang Jin Jia" (15) or "Heroic Battle" (19).  As poundingly-pleasurable as these tracks are, the score reaches it's zenith at track 23, "Curse of the Golden Flower."  The piece, lead by flute similar to last year's FEARLESS, brings Umebayashi's score to its high point.

Surprisingly, Sony Classical seems to be releasing less and less soundtracks that some would consider worthy of a full release.  One of last year's best scores THE PROMISE (Klaus Badelt) went to Superb Records, this release to Lakeshore Records, and it looks like Sony Picture's blockbuster SPIDER-MAN 3 will go elsewhere as well.  I guess there should simply be thanks given for an official release of any kind.  In the end, CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER delivers much:  incredible costumes, magnificent set-pieces, solid acting; however story-wise, it didn't quite close the bag.  It, like THE BANQUET, failed in providing a satisfying conclusion and that failure likely kept more Oscar nominations away.  Still, Shigeru Umebayashi's score can be counted among the great assets of the film and while it doesn't match the intimacy of HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS or the poignance of HERO, it is , overall, an entertaining listen.

Rating: 7/10

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Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Opening 0:55  ***
2 Tai-He Song 1:17  ****
3 Return to the Palace 1:22  ****
4 Theme of the Emperor 1:28  ***
5 Theme of the Empress 1:45  ***
6 Empress's Solitude 0:46  ***
7 Shadow & Escape 1:34  ***
8 Again 1:38  ***
9 Mother and Jai 3:58  ***
10 Portrait 0:41  ***
11 Theme of the Empress' Fate 2:05  ***
12 Fight of the Sickle Troops 2:29  ***
13 Emperor & Empress 2:47  ***
14 Behind Pageant 3:10  ***
15 Huang Jin Jia 0:56  ****
16 Rebellion 2:52  ***
17 Price Yu's Ambition 1:26  ***
18 Betray to the Emperor 2:40  ****
19 Heroic Battle 3:38  ***
20 Wan's Last Moment 1:04  ****
21 End of the War 1:18  ***
22 Imperial Ceremony 1:41  ***
23 Curse of the Golden Flower 2:38  ****
24 Ending Title 5:03  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 49 minutes  




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