Colour Blossoms (Tao Si)

Reviewed by Lee Alon

How the hell this one made it to several film festivals, including the Berlin Panorma, remains a suspicious enigma to this day. Can you imagine those lame, late night softcore erotica things Cinemax and Starz feature wowing audiences the world over? Well, it may depend on the audience, but they'd have to be an impressionable lot to even bat an eye at artiste and Fruit Chan collaborator Yonfan's faux-sensational Color Blossoms. In a vein similar to his previous works, stuff like Bishonen and Peony Pavilion (both starring Daniel Wu), this latest release also trades content in for beauty and audiovisual stylization, resulting in the silver screen equivalent of coffee table literature for the clinically bored.

Granted, the movie at least does go a bit beyond the norm in HK cinema to reveal some semblance of frontal nudity and steamy sexual deviance, and manages to deploy the occasional thoughtful pontification from its main characters. But otherwise we have before us a plodding affair, afflicted by a penchant for dragging out its most annoying scenes and ultimately making little sense if any.
Busty Teresa Cheung, who has no other film credits that we know of, surprises via a respectable appearance as Hong Kong real estate agent Meili. True to her bone headedly obvious moniker, our intrepid young urbanite seems the epitome of feminine appeal, carrying herself with grace and expensive outfits galore. One day Meili happens upon a posh apartment in Price Terrace put up for rent by mysterious owner Madam Umeki Satoko, a seductive Japanese aristocrat with more than a wee bit of a tendency to indulge in the decadent and bizarre. Umeki Satoko's the main event here, done by excellent veteran Keiko Matsuzaka, injecting much needed variety and range into the oft repetitive clichés suffusing Color Blossoms.
Meili begins to marvel at Umeki's life of debauchery and adventure, using the apartment to enter the older woman's realm. But soon she finds herself getting more than was ever bargained for, with several other characters penetrating the outrageous concoction. Model and photographer Kim (played by real life catwalker Sho), who the film leaves a near non-entity, dallies in carnal knowledge with almost everyone on hand, seducing Meili to dangerous extremes while partnering with mature Umeki when time allows. New talent Carl Ng's Officer 4708, a silent beat cop who only ever mumbles one word, stalks Meili throughout the barely lit neighborhood but soon falls prey to others' passionate advances. And then of course we have gender-bender Harisu (also seen in Running Blue), beautiful as a woman but too much of a man to qualify for maternity leave, clad in eye-popping minis and doing her best to distract everybody else. As much as one hates admitting to it, she does quite well in this regard, and together with Teresa Cheung at long last resumes breast-baring traditions we thought HK cinema lost to its recently-acquired puritan streak.
Trying to convey Color Blossoms' plot is an exercise in futility seeing as there isn't any that we could put our finger on. Sure, characters go through the motions of being involved in a storyline, but whatever the filmmakers want to say here gets lost not in translation but in heaps of bewildering ingredients like an awkward time distortion routine and one particular SM scene lasting the wasteful better part of 25 minutes. But even so, we can't fault Color Blossoms entirely since it does keep things somewhat in perspective and avoids taking itself too seriously. You may enjoy it for the intriguing soundtrack or for the semi-humorous, largely hinted at fornication going on among protagonists, including man on man, woman on woman and everything in between.
Although not the ground breaking avant garde piece its promoters would like us to think it, Color Blossoms beats watching your martini evaporate for sheer entertainment value, and can serve as a nifty party trick assuming your friends don't mind switching their brains off for a couple of hours.

Rating: 5/10

Directed by Yonfan
Starring Teresa Cheung, Keiko Matsuzaka, Harisu, Sho
2004, Japanese/English/Cantonese, 110 minutes

Contact Lee Alon here

Editorís Note/Opinion: The DVD comes with a CD of this soundtrack which is by far the best thing about this film that goes so far beyond pretentious that I donít think there is a word for it yet. Maybe a word could be named in his honor so that if you meet someone especially shiny, shallow and pretentious you could just say "He is so Yonfan" and everyone would know what you meant. The pain inflicted here isnít in the S&M scenes but on us, the poor unsuspecting audience!