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Sound Of Colors

Deluxe soaper boasts an A-list cast and the imprimatur of producer Wong Kar-Wai giving it higher commercial prospects than most non-chopsocky Asian imports. Tale of overlapping love stories, "Sound of Colors" finally lacks the complexity or zip to make it shine as brightly as it otherwise could.

With:
With: Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Miriam Yeung Chin-Wah, Chang Chen, Dong Jie, Fan Jik-Wai, Fong Lik-Sun, Eric Kot, Kwan Lun-Mei, Lam Suet, Tsui Ting Yau, Wong Yuen-Ling. (Cantonese and Mandarin dialogue.)

Deluxe soaper boasts an A-list cast and the imprimatur of producer Wong Kar-Wai giving it higher commercial prospects than most non-chopsocky Asian imports. Tale of overlapping love stories, “Sound of Colors” finally lacks the complexity or zip to make it shine as brightly as it otherwise could.

“In the Mood for Love” hunk Tony Leung has a nice change-of-pace role as Ming, a fast-talking, notoriously selfish owner of a slightly shady dating service. A dimpled and great-humored blind woman, Hoi Yeuk (Miriam Yeung Chin-Wah), helps him out of a bind and then asks for his professional services. When he discovers that none of his clients will go for a “handicapped” gal, Ming agrees to fill in her dance card, first out of pity, and then through a growing attraction.

Problem comes when he wakes up one day totally unable to see. His newfound empathy hasn’t gone unpunished it seems, and, despite a gaggle of friends who rally around him for some funny business, he seems determined to push everyone away.

Everyone except Hoi Yeuk, of course, who gets the veteran cynic to accept what is with some kind of grace. But how long can he remain sincere, especially when their situations change again?

Subordinate tale, sweet but less fulfilling, involves a shy office worker (Chen Chang, the handsome nomad from “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”) whose mash note ends up going to the wrong woman — which, in turns, brings him to Shanghai, where he encounters a pretty girl (pixyish Dong Jie) also waiting for the wrong man.

Pic is touted as a Sino answer to “Love, Actually,” and its humorous mishaps and lip-locks do culminate right around Christmastime — although that season’s significance in Shanghai and H.K. can’t be seen as much more than commercial.

But two subplots do not a Robert Altman film make. More balls needed to be in the air, or these needed to roll farther, for the pic to really hit home.

That said, small moments, such as partially animated bits that show what’s happening in the blind woman’s head, display a wonderful imagination at work, and lensing is seductive throughout. Use of romantic French music and other offbeat soundtrack choices ups the hip quotient, too.

Prolific helmer has made 20 other pics, none of which have clicked offshore. This one, which started life as a young-adult comic book, comes close but doesn’t quite hit those universal notes that sound so green.

Sound Of Colors

Hong Kong

Production: A Jet Tone Films production. (International sales: Jet Tone Films, Hong Kong.) Produced by Jacky Pang Yee-Wah, Wong Kar-Wai. Directed by Joe Ma Wai-Ho. Screenplay, Ma, Cheung Pui Wah, based on a comic book by Jimmy Liao.

Crew: Camera (color), Gao Zhao-lin; music, Lincoln Lo; production designer, Ken Ho; art director, Alexandre Jobert; costume designer, Patricia McNeil; assistant director, Julien Fonfredie. Reviewed at Hawaii Film Festival (Shanghai on Screen), Oct. 28, 2004. Running time: 99 MIN.

With: With: Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Miriam Yeung Chin-Wah, Chang Chen, Dong Jie, Fan Jik-Wai, Fong Lik-Sun, Eric Kot, Kwan Lun-Mei, Lam Suet, Tsui Ting Yau, Wong Yuen-Ling. (Cantonese and Mandarin dialogue.)

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