Ooo! More music!
CD: Challenge, The (1982)
Review Rating:   Very Good  
...back to Index
Catalog #:


...or start from scratch

March, 2013

Tracks / Album Length:

19 tracks / (76:11)



Jerry Goldsmith


Special Notes:

12-page colour booklet with liner notes by Jeff Bond / Limited to 3000 copies.

Comments :    

Alongside The Yakuza (1974) and Rising Sun (1993), The Challenge represents another rare effort by an American director to tackle the culture clashes between America and Japan in an action / crime vein, and like Rising Sun’s director Philip Kaufman, director John Frankenheimer used several striking Japanese locations, although his film was scored by Jerry Goldsmith, a composer within whom he’d worked on two classic films, including Seven Days in May (1964) and Seconds (1966).

Goldmith’s own experience in blending Asian sounds are found in several exceptional works, especially The Chairman (1969) and Tora! Tora! Tora! [M] (1970), while more grandiose efforts such as Inchon (1981) tended to be rather overbearing in their bombast (even though the fairest assumption is that the film’s makers – the Moonies – wanted Big Loud Heroism! and Self-Sacrifice! which they duly received).

The Challenge is more restrained in its impact – the score is balanced with several quiet and introspective moments, including a lush love theme (“Stay With Me”) but it has its fill of striking action – all of it orchestral and free from the type of percussive and emulative synth elements which would become increasingly prominent in the composer’s scores towards the end of the decade.

The use of traditional Japanese strings, woodwinds, and percussion are blended with western orchestral music, plus sudden twists to overt Stravinsky (The Rite of Spring is quote / mimicked in the swirling “No Defense” and concluding track “As You Wish”), and as was typical of Goldsmith’s scores of this particular period, the orchestrations are remarkable for the dynamism within the twisting rhythms; the sheer elegance and clarity of instrumental nuances in even the busiest of action cues is impressive, be it specific percussion hits or a soft, trilling flute.

For Goldsmith fans, Challenge takes two or three pays to acclimatize because it was written during a very busy period, and some of the themes and ideas are clearly drawn from more iconoclastic scores. The gentle strings in the early cues do recall the softer cues in Poltergeist (1982), and a main thematic section sound like an early version of the skittish main theme from his “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” segment in Twilight Zone: The Movie, scored a year later. It’s a little distracting, partially because some of the harmonics and cadences (especially in “Double Cross / Bamboo Forest” and “The Traitor”) are so close, but Challenge is representative of a composer applying colours and motifs that have a proven effect, such as the clanging pot lids in “Over the Top / Fish Market” that were auspiciously used in Planet of the Apes (1968).

La-La Land’s CD replaces the prior 2000 Prometheus CD, and augments the contents with three alternate cues / edits. The mastering is first-rate, and Jeff Bond’s liner notes providing a good background on this little-seen and very odd Frankenheimer film, plus cue details. The included stills and poster art further the interest in seeing this forgotten film, and perhaps the CD’s release is an indication The Challenge - part of a small cluster of theatrical ventures from CBS Theatrical Films - will indeed materialize one day from oblivion.



© 2013 Mark R. Hasan

iTunes Canada


Movies at


_IMDB Entry______DVD Review_______CD/LP Release History______Composer Filmography
_IMDB Detailed Entry_______________Additional Related Sites___________Additional Related Sites
Select Merchants ------- ------- ------- BSX ------- Intrada ------- SAE
Top of Page__ CD / LP Index "C"
Sony Creative Software Inc.

Site designed for 1024 x 768 resolution, using 16M colours, and optimized for MS Explorer 6.0. KQEK Logo and All Original KQEK Art, Interviews, Profiles, and Reviews Copyright © 2001-Present by Mark R. Hasan. All Rights Reserved. Additional Review Content by Contributors 2001-Present used by Permission of Authors. Additional Art Copyrighted by Respective Owners. Reproduction of any Original KQEK Content Requires Written Permission from Copyright Holder and/or Author. Links to non-KQEK sites have been included for your convenience; KQEK is not responsible for their content nor their possible use of any pop-ups, cookies, or information gathering.