|Director John Woo's Red Cliff is a big-budget ("the most expensive Asian film production of all time," says a press release) historical war epic set in China in the year 208 A.D. But Taro Iwashiro's score, performed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, suggests the influence of Hollywood (and European classical music) more than Chinese history. The orchestra is joined by Michiko Akao on solo Japanese transverse bamboo flute and Tan Jianping on ancient Chinese harp (plus MIDI programming by Hide Fukasawa), but right from the start, with "The Battle of Red Cliff," this is the music of the Hollywood epic, with engaging, uplifting themes played on massed strings. Iwashiro makes much of use of timpani to give things a martial air, but that seems not so much Chinese as military in flavor. He finally introduces a Chinese theme in "Shooooot!," one of the soundtrack album's shortest cues. And Chinese J-pop star alan gets a couple of gentle vocal performances toward the end. But for the most part, Iwashiro has composed a score that might have accompanied a Biblical epic in Cinerama in the 1950s or one of the space operas of the 1970s. Much of this score could have been composed by, say, Jerry Goldsmith or John Williams, implying that the language of film music, when it comes to movies made on a grand scale, has long since become universal.