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Broken Arrow
Album Cover Art
1996 Milan
2011 La-La Land
Album 2 Cover Art
Co-Composed, Arranged, and Co-Produced by:

Co-Composed and Co-Conducted by:
Don Harper

Co-Conducted by:
Bruce Fowler

Baritone Guitar Performed by:
Duane Eddy

Co-Produced by:
Jay Rifkin

Orchestrated by:
Ladd McIntosh

Additional Music by:
Harry Gregson-Williams

2011 Album Produced by:
Nick Redman
Labels Icon
Milan Entertainment
(February 13th, 1996)

La-La Land Records
(February 15th, 2011)
Availability Icon
The 1996 Milan album is a regular U.S. release. The 2011 expanded La-La Land album is limited to 3,000 copies and available through soundtrack specialty outlets for an initial price of $25.
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you wonder what Hans Zimmer would write if given a Spaghetti Western, because Broken Arrow is his best merging of his passion for Ennio Morricone's music and his early Media Ventures blockbuster sensibilities.

Avoid it... if you love being pounded into submission by the overbearing staccato movements and bass domination of Zimmer's later action scores, a sound that eventually had very little do with the kind of instrumental nuances heard in this surprisingly well-balanced score.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 10/18/09, REVISED 3/15/11
Broken Arrow: (Hans Zimmer/Don Harper) Although legendary Hong Kong action director John Woo had already created a substandard Jean-Claude Van Damme entry in America, 1996's Broken Arrow was his official big budget debut to international audiences. All the techniques of filming that made him famous in those Hong Kong years carried over directly to the 20th Century Fox spectacle, which resembled Speed in many ways because the two projects shared a common writer. There wasn't much merit in the substance of Broken Arrow, the plot detailing an Air Force Major who decides to steal the two nuclear weapons on his stealth fighter and has to elude his flying partner in order to complete his demand for a ransom from the American government. For some viewers, the introduction of the first trailer to Independence Day before the film, complete with an exploding White House during an election year, was the lasting highlight. For others, John Travolta's charming charisma in the leading villain's role was enough to compensate for eye-rolling supporting performances from the rather bland Christian Slater and football analyst Howie Long. As mindless as Broken Arrow truly was, its somewhat cheeky blend of Western and technology elements allowed for composer Hans Zimmer to have a fair amount of fun with the assignment. Zimmer's collaboration with Woo would extend to Face/Off and Mission: Impossible II, during and after which Zimmer would pass Woo over to protege John Powell. The director, while appreciating the Media Ventures sound in conjunction with his most commonly associated genre of action pictures, eventually sought composers outside of this group (including James Horner) for his less stereotypical action flicks. In 1996, Zimmer was still in the lead when it came to defining the fledgling Media Ventures sound, and Broken Arrow was something of a model of success for the key original members of that collaborating group (led foremost by Jay Rifkin). It came after Drop Zone, Crimson Tide, and Beyond Rangoon had all solidified Zimmer's ability to effectively blend sampled orchestral sounds with his masculine synthetic tones but before his involvement in (or influence over) assignments like The Rock began to muddy the waters of this sound.

While many casual listeners associate Broken Arrow with Zimmer alone, it was indeed a collaborative compositional effort. He handed over the responsibility for several reels late in the picture to conductor Don Harper, who wrote at least three substantial cues leading up to the "Hammerhead" climax (including the train fight sequence). Fortunately, his material leans heavily on Zimmer's themes and instrumentation, so little difference can really be deciphered between the two men's contributions. More ambiguous is Harry Gregson-Williams' role in Broken Arrow, though licensing documentation credits him with some material in the main titles cue more commonly known as "Brothers." Otherwise, Broken Arrow is a score mainly reflective of Zimmer's sole efforts, and the commercial album emphasizes his own material. His long-standing preference for Ennio Morricone Spaghetti Westerns was an influence in his method of tackling the Travolta character in Broken Arrow, with melodic aspects of Once Upon a Time in the West distinctly informing Zimmer's music here. It could be said that Broken Arrow is Zimmer's best venture into the Western genre, though most listeners will likely associate the general sound of the score with the composer's more action-oriented sensibilities. This includes the performances by legendary guitarist Duane Eddy, who famously brought life to Henry Mancini's theme for "Peter Gunn." Eddy's bass guitar is the embodiment of the self-absorbed coolness conveyed by Travolta's character on screen, dominating one of three major themes by Zimmer for Broken Arrow. Heard first in full on the commercial album in the latter half of "Brothers," this theme receives extended treatment in "Broken Arrow" and is an almost omnipresent reminder of Travolta's control over the picture. For a brainless action flick aspiring to be taken seriously, the theme is almost too quirky in spirit, but it is undeniably hip and serves the character well enough to avoid detracting from his menace. The melodic line performed by Eddy is a bit simplistic, but that once again reflects the character and also aides the listening experience. This theme (in the form of its original recording) would humorously become the identity of the character of Dewey in Scream 2, replacing some of Marco Beltrami's material. Beltrami, however, would cleverly reference these performances at the end of Scream 3.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.34 Stars
***** 110 5 Stars
**** 123 4 Stars
*** 107 3 Stars
** 69 2 Stars
* 56 1 Stars
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Alternative review at
Southall - April 9, 2011, at 10:28 a.m.
1 comment  (1474 views)
Good review
Ravi Krishna - November 15, 2009, at 8:37 a.m.
1 comment  (1855 views)

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
1996 Milan Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 59:08
• 1. Brothers (7:05)
• 2. Secure (4:48)
• 3. Stealth (7:34)
• 4. Mine (5:43)
• 5. Nuke (10:48)
• 6. Greed (11:01)
• 7. Hammerhead (4:43)
• 8. Broken Arrow (7:31)
2011 La-La Land Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 115:56

Notes Icon
The inserts of both albums include extensive information about the score and film.
Copyright © 2009-2021, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Broken Arrow are Copyright © 1996, 2011, Milan Entertainment, La-La Land Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 10/18/09 and last updated 3/15/11.
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