Monday, June 10, 2013

10 existing songs I'd like to needle-drop as fight scene music in a film or TV show someday

Indonesian Eriq La Salle fucking owns it.
I finally got around to checking out the 2011 silat flick The Raid after recently hearing Yo, Is This Racist? podcast host Andrew Ti's enthusiastic recommendation of it, in which he said it's a great stabbing movie, and it features "the most hilarious stabbing I've ever seen in my entire life." For the American market, director Gareth Evans retitled his stabfest The Raid: Redemption to avoid a rights dispute here in America over the film's original title, but let's face it, man, nobody calls it by that cumbersome American title in regular conversations, and neither do I.

I like the propulsive original score Linkin Park member/Fort Minor founder Mike Shinoda and Oblivion co-composer Joseph Trapanese wrote together for Sony's American release of The Raid, particularly because of its stripped-down sound. As Shinoda said in one of the Raid Blu-ray's featurettes, he and Trapanese wanted to keep the score stripped-down to mirror the film's claustrophobic feel, so that meant ditching electric guitars and Asian or Indonesian flourishes that he and Trapanese felt would have sounded too distracting to the audience's ears, as well as their own.

Oh, and by the way, uh, Hollywood, the fight choreography in The Raid makes your attempts at martial arts flicks (fight scenes in Banshee, Fast Five and Furious 6 aside) look like '80s and '90s Christian pop music videos. In other words, milque-goddamn-toast.

I'm adding to "AFOS Prime" and "Beat Box" rotation the "We Have Company" and "Drug Lab" cues from the Raid score, which Sony's Madison Gate label made available only as a digital download. The Shinoda/Trapanese score has got me thinking about non-"Eye of the Tiger" existing songs I'd like to needle-drop as fight scene music if I ever get to direct a short film, feature film or TV series episode someday, although I don't think I'll ever be put in charge of an undertaking as massive as Furious 6.

1. Ghostface Killah featuring Raekwon and Cappadonna, "Daytona 500"
After The Boondocks brilliantly needle-dropped Raekwon's "Guillotine (Swordz)" when Huey imagined himself as a samurai, the world needs more fight scenes soundtracked with RZA-produced joints. Maybe "Daytona 500" is better suited for a car chase. If I directed a Fast & Furious sequel--though I just said it'd be so unlikely to happen--one of the car chases would have to be soundtracked with a bunch of Wu-Tang MCs spitting fire to a classic break like Bob James' "Nautilus."

2. Method Man, "Release Yo' Delf (Prodigy Remix)"
I hadn't noticed until recently that Prodigy sampled the horns from "El Colpo," a cue from Ennio Morricone's For a Few Dollars More score, during this remix. Prodigy's take on Meth's "Release Yo' Delf" was born to accompany any fight scene, whether it's a jewel thief laying the smackdown on a cop or an old lady beefing with another grocery shopper over the last loaf of bread.

3. Jeru the Damaja, "Ya Playin' Yaself"
Because Jeru did it before in his own music video, and it looked fantastic.

4. The Roots, "75 Bars (Black's Reconstruction)"
Black Thought's lyrical tour de force, in which he, as David Brothers once said, "stacks threat on crack on snap like the world's fastest game of Jenga," is a perfect cue for that great post-MMA black action flick that hasn't been made yet.

5. The Heavy, "That Kind of Man"
So many Heavy tracks work well as action genre music (Cinemax's Strike Back opens its episodes with "Short Change Hero"), and Madison Avenue must agree because ad agencies have played the shit out of "Short Change Hero," "How You Like Me Now" and "What Makes a Good Man?" (every other Dwayne Johnson flick that comes out always seems to have TV spots that feature Heavy songs). The angry groove of "That Kind of Man" is sort of like the retro-soul equivalent of Gerald Fried's exhilarating Star Trek fight theme (a piece that, by the way, was recently quoted by Michael Giacchino during the "San Fran Hustle" cue in his Star Trek Into Darkness score). If you removed all the vocals about relationship woes, "That Kind of Man" would have been a dope cue during the climactic knife fight in The Man from Nowhere.

6. E.S. Posthumus, "Kalki"
Because no one--other than the trailer house that cut together trailers for Starz's The Pillars of the Earth--has touched "Kalki" yet and turned it into a slightly overplayed staple of trailers like Posthumus' "Pompeii" or another Posthumus track, "Unstoppable."

7. Dennis Coffey, "7th Galaxy"
Because it sounds like Coffey's Black Belt Jones theme.

8. Booker T. & the M.G.'s, "Chicken Pox"
I always loved Yoko Kanno and the Seatbelts' off-kilter method of coming up with jazzy score cues for Spike Spiegel's fight scenes during Cowboy Bebop, as well as Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story's equally off-kilter idea of soundtracking a back alley battle with "Green Onions," although Dragon director Rob Cohen used a not-so-hot re-recording instead of the grittier-sounding Booker T. & the M.G.'s original. The Dragon end credits claim that it's actually Booker T. & the M.G.'s performing their most famous tune, but it can't be them because that re-recording is weak sauce, which would also be a great name for a Booker T. & the M.G.'s cover band.

9. The Dave Brubeck Quartet, "Castilian Drums" (live)
Speaking of jazz that's suited for fight scenes, get a load of 9:04 to 12:48. The sounds of applause and cheers from the quartet's Carnegie Hall audience would take the fight scene into surreal Guy Ritchie territory.

10. Marcel Marceau, "Silence"


  1. I remember someone put together a video for one of my favorite martial arts-based games to Eric B and Rakim's Don't Sweat the Technique.

    Another one that came to mind for me is Roni Size/Reprazent's Morse Code and Destination

    1. I'm not familiar with the game that's featured in this mash-up with "Don't Sweat the Technique," but this video's most likely the one you're referring to: "God Hand - Don't Sweat the Technique."

    2. That is totally the game and video I was talking about.