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FilmsAsia: Asian film reviews
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   Color Blossoms  


Color Blossoms

Reviewed by Toh Hai Leung

Chinese Title: Toh sik
Director: Yonfan
Writing Credits: Yonfan
Cast : Keiko Matsuzaka, Teresa Cheung, Ha Ri Su, Sho, Carl Ng
Genre: Drama
Country: Hong Kong
Language: Cantonese
Year Released: 2004
Runtime: 106 min

Color Blossom explores the pleasures of lesbian/homo-erotic sexual relationships. For Macao-born, Hong Kong-based photographer-writer/film director Manshih Yon Fan (Bishonen, Peony Pavilion), Color Blossoms centers itself on five disparate individuals. They are:

Teresa Cheung nee Bee who plays Meili, a real estate agent drawn into a torrid sado-masochistic relationship with a morose good-looking Japanese photographer, Kim (Japanese male model, Sho) (The lovers cavort in a decadent luxurious flat, owned by an upper-class high-society Japanese mystery woman, Umeiki Satoko (played by legendary diva, Keiko Matsuzaka), while Meili has the hots for patrolling rookie macho cop 4708, conducting patrol checks of Lan Kwai Fong. Later Meili finds Kim is the murdered ex-lover of the young Mdm. Umeki (Korean transsexual Ha Ri Su) three decades ago - a subtle "cross-blending or homage" hint of an apparition B la the Stanley Kwan's 1987 ghost-romance film, Rouge.

True, Yon Fan's highly controversial "erotic art film is more than mere stylish "pretty-to-look-at" pornography packaged in another Pan-Asian film.

The Chinese title of Color Blossoms translates as Peach Color which refers to "eros" or sex desire of both straight and homosexual type ... and its concomitants - lust, obsession, sex and death - all played out in Color Blossoms.

What this critic is fascinated is by the link between Dumplings: Three ... Extremes, and Color Blossoms - is that director Fruit Chan known for his slew of indie "art" Hong Kong films which focus on the universal human condition makes or rather produces more than just the commercial mainstays of raids and violence typified by mainstream commercial films.

And linked with Applause Pictures' Pan-Asian concept, the famous duo gets the uncanny contribution of Hong Kong's butterfly socialite-turned-actress, Teresa Cheung, Japan's diva, Keiko Matsuzaka, South Korea's transsexual icon Ha Ri Su who looks prettier than most really beautiful female-women beauties, Carl Ng, Eurasian son of Hong Kong's veteran comedian, Richard Ng and Sho, the strikingly handsome Japanese male model.

Like the famed French film critic-turned-director, Oliver Asayas' legendary script offer of Irma Vep, written specially for Maggie Cheung, his ex-wife, Yon Fan wrote the literary-like screenplay specifically for Teresa who liked the role of Meili in her world of rich creative life of fantasy and passion.

What with all the various Pan-Asian cast put together and with Yon Fan's previous misunderstood repute as being just another empty, stylish photographer-turned-art-filmmaker (of Conjugal and Bugis Street fame), many "empty-headed" critics just dismissed this landmark erotic S&M (sadism and masochism) films as a pornographic Pan-Asian film. The unfair and unjust remarks come fast and without thinking: Teresa is "no character actress!", Carl Ng like Andy Lau's roving wanderlust street cop in cult Wong Kar Wai's Days of Being Wild is "just an obsessed hunk! and the morose male Japanese photographer (played by Sho) is "a mere exotically and erotically handsome toy-boy".

Suffice it to say at close and more intense critical scrutiny, you would get a fuller and deeper appreciation of the aesthetics of the passion of kinky sado-masochistic sex. Even the much cliched quotes of: "We live with despair." "I like this kind of torment." "People are animal by nature" - might sound contrived and obvious but when put into the right context by Yon Fan, they make sense.

This critic, being a straight hetero man, who though finds the kinkier side of alternative sexuality - transsexuality in the form of Korean Ha Ri Su - a little hard to swallow, still I throw my hat to Yon Fan who dares to be different from boring macho gangland/triad and comical gongfu mainstays that have dominated Hong Kong even past post-1997 Hong Kong.

I would recommend highly this "art" film from a true, unpretentious alternative lifestyle film director who dares to be different. The DVD I got from Hong Kong comes in a 2-disc DVD special edition complete with a disc soundtrack - at that time when I was watching the big screen version, and later when I got the HK$119-DVD version - I found no difference between the big screen version and the two DVD discs.