Kung Fu Super Sounds CD review

A collection of music from the Shaw Brothers' martial arts films, and a very strong one at that...

Anyone who is anyone has watched Enter The Dragon a million times, but real kung fu aficionados know that the martial arts action was always made in Hong Kong, for Hong Kong.

Jackie Chan was never the same after he moved to America and only a fool would prefer the Hollywood remake of Internal Affairs.

Between 1965 and 1985, the biggest movie producers in Hong Kong were the Shaw Brothers, who churned out flick, after flick, after flick. Movies like Dirty Ho, Shaolin Handlock and Flag Of Iron became huge hits in Asia, while never breaking free of their cult status here in the West.

And as every self-respecting martial arts movie fan knows, the soundtracks were almost as important as the action, which makes Kung Fu Super Sounds a very special CD indeed.

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Put simply, it is 43 unreleased cuts from various Shaw Brothers martial arts films, all from between 1976 and 1984.

No music cliché is left unturned in this collection, from sweeping strings to ephereal voices, and the listener can chart the rise of some very early – not to mention dodgy – electronica as the Shaw Brothers started to embrace the 1980s.

As a compilation of B-movie soundtracks, this is absolutely indispensable and DJs and samplers will find themselves in heaven with such obscurios as ‘The Mystified Man’, which has been taken from the 1980 flick Flag Or Iron.

You mark my words, half of this stuff will turn up in six months time, but with thumping techno-beats or buried beneath the latest Girls Aloud song.

‘Electro Beat 5’ , which was taken from the 1979 film The Kung Fu Instructor, is a pure joy for any analogue keyboard anoraks out there. The rest of us can sit back and enjoy the orchestral pieces, which have more ham than an exceedingly large pig farm.

It’s sometimes hard to get into movie soundtrack compilations, particularly when some of the music is so short, but any lovers of obscure lounge and exotica will dig Kung Fu Super Sounds and it is also a fitting testament to the backroom musicians, who often came up with some truly fantastic stuff, which was either overlooked at the time by the movie-going public (who, let’s face it, were more into the action anyway) or looked down upon by their music peers, for doing soundtrack work.

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My personal favourite was ‘Dr Witch Wot’ – a truly unique piece of music, which makes Tom Waits sound like High School Musical.

Now, if only they would bring back Hai Karate!