Music Composed by  Christopher Young

For composer Christopher Young, the challenge with scoring The Monkey King 2 was how to top what he had created for the original film.  The Monkey King had already prompted Young to marshal vast orchestral and choral forces to accompany reels of action-packed spectacle.  Young’s hook for the sequel score came from the locale.  Whereas the first film took place in in a fantasy world of Heaven, the sequel takes place on Earth, with a need to musically address the emotional voyage of the characters.  The Monkey King 2 picks up 500 years after the events of the first film, when the brash simian (Aaron Kwok) is freed and commanded by the Goddess of Mercy (Kelly Chen) to protect the monk Tang Sanzang (William Feng) on his holy quest to retrieve sacred Buddhist scriptures from a distant temple.  Along the way, they acquire a menagerie of traveling companions: a horse that was once a fierce dragon, the amiably gluttonous pig demon Zhu Bajie (Xiao Shen Yang) and the imposing, blue-skinned sand demon Sha Wujing (Him Law). They also face mighty trials at the hands of a wicked king (Kris Phillips) and a coterie of demonic shape-shifters, led by the dread Lady White Bone (Gong Li).  New characters afforded Young the opportunity to compose new themes, most notably the haunting theme for Lady White Bone, with its languid, sensuous malevolence.

As with his first Monkey King album, Young’s score has been arranged into movements loosely titled after the film’s characters. In addition to the new themes for Sanzang and Lady White Bone, there is quirky material for the bickering companions Bajie and Wujing. There are also passages of riotous action, including music for the whirlwind final battle against a skeletal army. The lengthy track titled after the bat demon is particularly intense, with aggressive use of electric guitar and pounding drums. The intention of the composer is for each track to flow into the next, culminating in the triumphant return of Sun Wukong’s theme from the first score in the final movement.

Richly scored, colorful and exciting soundtrack for The Monkey King 2. Opulent sequel to 2014 blockbuster from China, this newest chapter takes place 500 years after the first one concludes. Sri Cheang returns to direct, Aaron Kwok, Gong Li, William Feng, Xiao Shen Yang, Kelly Chen star, Sammo Hung directs numerous action scenes, Christopher Young returns with even more resplendent, powerful music! Like chapter one, this new film finds root in the 16th-Century Chinese novelJourney To The West and comes replete with gods and goddesses, monks and demons, kings and dragons, virtually all manner of vibrant special effects to inspire a massive orchestral and choral score. Much of the first film took place in the heavens, Monkey King 2 mostly takes place on earth, with Young bringing weight and color to the emotional journey, as sought by director Cheang, who is much appreciative of grand Hollywood film music. Here is music now emotionally rich, now gently poignant, now riveting and exciting, ultimately grand and powerful! As with the first score, lengthy cues are a major asset, allowing depth and continuity to emerge throughout. And what sweeping melody there is! Themes play a major role while stirring harmony surges underneath. Several cues deserve spotlighting: opening “Jinguzhou, The Golden Hoop” plays over 11 minutes, develops several important ideas in depth, “Xiyi Yaoguai, The Basilisk Demon” offers violent orchestral/choral action with emphasis on edged brass, piercing woodwinds, “Baigujing, Lady White Bone” ushers in with striking, aggressive horn writing, bringing terror to demonic shape-shifter, then melts into haunting, beautifully flowing line for erhu as complexities and nuances of her character come into focus. Special mention goes to “Tang Sanzang, The Monk”: here Young brings incredibly passioned, stirring orchestral crescendoes into focus with strong, thick harmony in tow. Yet another sensational highlight: the final “Sun Wukong, The Monkey King” presents a dynamic, rhythmically charged finale that climaxes in a stunning fortissimo coda, a rare closing device from the composer. Paired with the first score, The Monkey King 2 is arguably Christopher Young’s most spectacular work! Informative notes by John Takis, lavish and colorful art direction by Joe Sikoryak. Allan Wilson conducts the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra and Lucnica Chorus. A mammoth musical triumph.

Label: Intrada Special Collection Volume ISC 358
Date: 2016
Time: 75:24
01. Jinguzhou, The Golden Hoop (11:12)
02. Xīyì yāo, Basilisk Demon (6:27)
03. Zhu Bajie, The Pig Demon (4:12)
04. Baigujing, Lady White Bone (5:32)
05. Tang Sanzang, The Monk (6:13)
06. Guówáng Yun Hai Xi Wángguó, The King of Yun Hai Xi Kingdom (6:25)
07. Ruyi Jingu Bang, Monkey King’s Staff (4:06)
08. Sha Wujing, The Sand Demon (3:18)
09. Guanyin, The Goddess of Mercy (5:20)
10. Biānfú èmó, Bat Demon (10:34)
11. Bái lóng mā, White Dragon Horse (5:37)
12. Sun Wukong, The Monkey King (7:19)
Total Time: 75:24